When CAR magazine tested the Fortuner equipped with the marque's 2,5-litre D-4D powerplant back in April 2012, we were mighty impressed. The engine, featuring variable nozzle turbo technology and common-rail direct injection, delivers 106 kW and 343 N.m - only 14 kW less than the highly rated 3,0-litre D-4D and an identical torque figure. For obvious reasons, we immediately started wondering when this engine would make its appearance in the Hilux, which until recently had to make do with the outpunched 75 kW powerplant.

In the end, the wait was longer than expected - Toyota only introduced the engine into the Hilux in December last year - and it is only offered in the Double Cab Raider (Raised Body) 4x2 model. The 75 kW engine continues to do duty in a number of other Hilux models.

Specification level

The cabins of the latest Hiluxs are still competitive with the more modern bakkies on the market, especially after the 2011 upgrade. The centre console is dominated by that touch-screen infotainment system (with USB, BlueTooth) which lifts the ambience to such an extent that it is easy to forget that this Hilux made its debut in South Africa as far back as 2005. The only real drawback remains the limited adjustability of the steering wheel. I prefer cloth upholstery to leather, so the charcoal-coloured cloth featured on this specification is attractive to me.

When Toyota added this engine to the Hilux line-up it also tweaked the specification by adding electrically retractable side mirrors and manual headlamp levelling. It is important to note that although there is no 4x4 model on offer with this engine, this Raised Body 4x2 model does feature a diff-lock and 227 mm of ground clearance.

On the go

Toyota places great emphasis on this engine's ability to punch hard from low revs. Indeed, when we tested the Fortuner with this engine we found that owners were unlikely to miss (or even notice) the power deficit compared with the 3,0-litre D-4D during normal, day-to-day driving. In terms of sprinting ability it was comparable to a Fortuner 3,0 D-4D. We concluded that you may notice the lower output at higher overtaking speeds and during towing.

However, surprisingly perhaps, I found the Hilux somewhat different. There was significant lag below 2 000 r/min, resulting in some stumbling when accelerating away from traffic lights. The Hilux uses the same gear ratios as the Fortuner and the wheel sizes are identical, too, so these could not be the reasons. The off-the-line lethargy took a while to get used to, but by the end of my short test term I had adjusted my driving style to compensate. Admittedly I did test the Hilux at altitude so a direct comparison is not possible. According to technical editor Nicol Louw, the noticeable turbo lag may be contributed to the lower atmospheric pressure to start off with at altitude (when demanding full boost). The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission with a very precise, mechanical shift action.

Once you've overcome the "stumbling", the engine is a real peach with superb refinement. Of course, the big benefit compared with the 3,0-litre D-4D is economy. Toyota claims a combined cycle consumption figure of 8,7 litres/100 km.

As we found during our recent double-cab shootout with Hannes Grobler, the Hilux remains the firmest of the mainstream bakkies on the market. This model is no different, but the upshot is that it does give the vehicle a feeling of robustness. I did not get the opportunity to test the Hilux on gravel during my short stay in Johannesburg, so can't comment on its abilities there, but it is worth noting that from a safety point of view, it features ABS, a load-sensing braking system and six airbags. There is no electronic stability system (ESP). Considering the vehicle's sheer size, I must say I missed rear park sensors on the standard specification sheet.

Value

This model sells for a not-insignificant R365 500 and comes backed with a five-years/90 000 km service plan. Unfortunately service intervals are set at 10 000 km. With the addition of this engine and in this specification, the Hilux now has a much stronger presence against such rivals as the Nissan Navara 2,5 dCi, Ford Ranger/Mazda BT-50 2,2-litre and Volkswagen Amarok. Considering its all-round quality, refined powerplant and comprehensive specification, it can only serve to further add to the Hilux's still market-leading monthly sales tally.

Fast facts:

Model: Toyota Hilux 2,5 D-4D Raider Double Cab

Engine: 2,5-litre, four-cylinder, turbodiesel

Power: 106 kW/3 400 r/min

Torque: 343 N.m/1 600-2 800 r/min

0-100 km/h: n/a

Fuel consumption: 8,7 L/100 km

Top speed: 150 km/h

CO2 emissions: n/a

Price: R365 500

* All as claimed by Toyota