The last two months of 2011 were hectic for most of us, and it is no wonder most refer to it as the “silly season”. During November I completed more than 7 000 km at the helm of my long-term Hilux, encompassing two lengthy road trips. First I drove the Hilux from Cape Town to Namibia to visit a friend who has a farm about 140 km south of Windhoek, and then the Hilux was called upon as a back-up vehicle for our 2012 Performance Shootout. The latter trip added around 2 500 km to the mileage, but I also drove “my” bakkie back from Gauteng to Cape Town.
During our Performance Shootout the Hilux was tasked with towing duties and as the main vehicle from which colleague Ian McLaren shot the January cover. The luggage trailer wasn’t huge, but bigger and higher than a normal-sized (read Venter) trailer, and it had to carry nearly 20 people’s luggage. The Hilux was obviously a little slower towing the trailer and you had to use the throttle pedal with a tad more enthusiasm, but the bakkie easily kept to a GPS verified 120-130 km/h.
It was the trip to Namibia that stood out for me, and the one I had been looking forward to all year.
Staying over for the first night at Nuwerus in Namaqualand, I arrived the following day at my friend’s farm south of Rehoboth in the late afternoon. Hitting the gravel road after you have done nearly 1 400 km of tarmac was somewhat of a relief! I have to admit that I was happy to let the wheels spin a little with the rear end wiggling. Hiluxes are built for gravel, after all.
The farm has several relatively flat dunes, and with ‘my’ Hilux and my friend’s new Xtra cab (his being a 4×4, mine a 4×2), we drove into the scenic landscape for some late evening pictures. The problem was, when the photo session was finished, the 4×2 wouldn’t budge. Yes, I know you are going to tell me that “a 4×2 isn’t made for the dunes”, but I had to try!
I did learn a couple of valuable lessons though:
- Apart from deflating tyres, you always need to maintain momentum in the sand, even if you drive a 4×4
- Always try to stop downhill, not even on a level surface, if you can help it.
- A normal tow rope is not good enough. Make sure you have a kinetic tow rope. This is the only rope that, in the end, got the 4×2 out of the sand.
- When stuck in sand, try to form tracks. This can sometimes be done – if you are not totally stuck – by driving forward, then backwards. By repeating this manoeuvre you may get lucky and drive out of there without any real help.
On the way back from Namibia (after spending two days riding quad bikes in the dunes outside Swakopmund, which is another story) I drove the majority of the way through the darkness of night. Admittedly, it was not the cleverest thing to do, in terms of safety and visibility, but the vast landscape of Namibia and the Nothern Cape has an appealing allure to it at night.
The Hilux is entering its final two months at CAR and, I have to admit, that although I enjoy driving it, the recent exposure to Ford’s Ranger bakkies have made me realise that for leisure purposes, the Hilux has found its match.
Likes: Versatility, positive customer experience on both 10 000 km and 20 000 km service intervals
Dislikes: Bumpy ride
Fuel economy: 10,3 L/100 km
Have a look at amateur video below, shot in bits and pieces during my trip. Its long, but so was the trip to Namibia.