Toyota says its refreshed Hilux bakkie boasts both “sharper handling” and a “vastly improved” unladen ride quality.

The updated version of the Japanese firm’s popular bakkie has officially launched in Australia, sporting a fresh look and more grunt from its 2,8-litre turbodiesel heart. In June 2020, Toyota South Africa Motors told CARmag.co.za the launch in South Africa was “still some months away”.

Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia vice-president for sales and marketing, said the first major updates to the eighth-generation Hilux came about thanks to customer feedback.

"Hilux fans will appreciate the bold new look as well as the performance boost from our biggest-selling engine that makes towing and overtaking even easier in all conditions, including heading up a hill on a 40-degree summer's day," he said.

"They will also find Hilux more fun to drive with sharper handling and an unladen ride quality that is now vastly improved, without compromising its body control when carrying a load over undulating roads," Hanley added.

Toyota says it has retuned the Hilux’s spring rates, shock absorbers and suspension bushes as well as introduced revised cabin mounts. Revised leaf spring bushings “enhance ride comfort on rough roads”, while self-lubricating rubber has been adopted on the rear shackle bush for “increased ride comfort”.

Thanks to a “raft of changes” to the 2,8 GD-6 oil-burner, Toyota also promises improvements to acceleration, overtaking and towing performance. Peak power has been hiked to 150 kW, while maximum torque on automatic models has risen to 500 N.m (manual variants offer 420 N.m). Peak twisting force is now available across a wider range; from 1 600 to 2 800 r/min for the auto and from 1 400 to 3 400 r/min for the manual.

While the 2,4-litre turbodiesel engine retains its peak outputs of 110 kW and 400 N.m, Toyota says it has benefited from improvements to cooling and fuel economy, while the alternator has been uprated from 80 to 100 Amps. In addition, the steering has been revised for all turbodiesel variants, while braked towing capacity is now rated at 3 500 kg for 4x4 variants and 2 800 kg for 4x2 diesel models.

Inside Australian-spec models, there’s a new eight-inch display (with “control knobs rather than touchscreen operation for easier use), while the infotainment system gains “enhanced” voice recognition plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Toyota has furthermore added “new-look” instrument dials.

The Hilux for the South African market is, of course, produced at Toyota’s Prospecton plant in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. An upgraded version of the bakkie hit the local market in May 2018 in the form of the limited-edition Dakar, before the updated face was rolled out to other derivatives. The Legend 50 variants followed in June 2019, with this refreshed model likely to hit the market either towards the end of 2020 or fairly early in 2021.