Hilux range welcomes a Legend and a Gazoo racer
Fresh from setting a new sales record, Toyota’s evergreen bakkie revives a popular nameplate and launches a collectors’ model
To make life interesting for its bakkie range in the face of a torrent of activity in the double-cab market, Toyota SA Motors has added a pair of new and exciting models to the Hilux range.
These are the Hilux Legend 50 and the villainous looking Hilux GR Sport.
Let’s kick off with the Legend. Since SA introduction back in 1969 the Toyota Hilux has carved close to a cult following in both private and commercial markets. It not only rules the one-ton bakkie segment but is also SA’s best-selling vehicle overall; in June it set a sales record of 4,770 units.
The company introduced the first Legend 35 in 2004. It was a hit and the nameplate has subsequently spawned the Legends 40, 45 and now Legend 50 in 2019, marking 50 years of Hilux in SA.
This latest edition replaces the Raider nameplate, according to Glenn Crompton, vice-president marketing at Toyota SA Motors, but Raider will make a return some time in the future. It’s the first time the Legend badge is applied to the entire Hilux range meaning it can now be had in single-cab, XTra cab and double-cab body styles.
The Legend 50 comes with more than a party hat and brings significant changes to the Hilux line-up. Physically it’s differentiated by a glossy black-out on the lower grille, a silver lower bumper guard, silver accents on vertical fog-lamp bezels, chrome exterior mirrors, a stylised rear bar, silver roof rails, and a tow bar fitted as standard. There are also smoked tail lamps and LED headlamps with daytime driving lights and Legend 50-specific two-ton 18-inch alloy wheels shod with 265-60-R18 all-terrain tyres.
Interior features are black leather trim with blue perforation and stitching on Xtra cab and double cab, a chrome accent strip running across the dashboard, gloss-black panel trim, branded silver door scuff plates and carpets, instrument cluster with white-faced dials and orange needles and a 20.3cm touch-sensitive Multi-media information Display that displays audio, compass, navigation prompts, trip info and fuel consumption information.
Smart entry (keyless) and push-start ignition are standard in both Xtra Cab and couble cab variants. Safety features list driver, passenger, knee and curtain airbags, while ABS, stability control, and hill-assist control help keep the Legend on the road.
Mechanically all single and Xtra Cab derivatives are powered by the existing 2.8 GD-6 engine with 130 kW and 420Nm on tap in 4x2 or 4x4 in regular or Raised Body configurations. Auto variants get a torquier 450Nm.
Double Cab Legend 50 are also available in 4.0 petrol V6 4x4 auto flavour.
Hilux GR Sport
Only 600 Hilux GR Sport double cab models will be built. It’s only the second GR product to reach SA with the third — the new Supra sports car — to be launched later in July. In Toyota parlance, GR Sport is a second tier of Toyota’s motorsport arm of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s (GR) pyramid and incorporates suspension upgrades and spiced-up aesthetics.
Crompton says this special project was commissioned after the brand’s win at the 2019 Dakar Rally and it has the full recognition as a member of the Gazoo Racing umbrella. This limited range is produced at Toyota’s KZN-based vehicle assembly facilities.
The GR Sport is based on regular Hilux bones but upgraded with a bespoke Gazoo Racing suspension uprated and tuned for a sportier drive. If you were expecting tweaks for Baja-style jumps you’ll walk away disappointed. The shock absorbers are a monotube design with revised damping and increased front spring rates that don’t fiddle much with the civil ride comfort. The rear leaf spring rates have been left alone to preserve the existing payload and practicality.
The GR Sports certainly feels stiffer on tarmac. Road imperfections are more pronounced as the nose dips in hard but the discomfort is quickly ironed out by the stock rear axle. It’s a contradictory experience on gravel surfaces. It becomes more composed here and more focused on turn-in.
The development brief hinged on offering greater off-road handling and steering and enhanced off-road body control and sharper on-road steering feel, says Toyota. This is exactly what I felt when piloting the GR Sport in the dirt roads of Botswana and Zimbabwe last week.
It turns in sharper and has a lesser tendency to understeer under high-speed cornering.
Differentiated by a collection of red, white and black Gazoo Racing decals, it comes in a trio of theme colours: Glacier White, Arizona Red or Attitude Black. The demeanour of aggression is added through an enlarged honeycomb front grille with distinctive gloss-black finish Toyota lettering, much like that of the Dakar race Hilux, and a GR badge.
The vertical fog lamp bezels contrast in a red or white outline, dependent on exterior colour. All 600 units come with a black bonnet and roof, black accents that extend to the side mirrors, GR-branded tubular side steps, over-fenders and GR-Sport specific 17-inch alloy wheels shod with 265-65-R17 tyres.
The red, black and white GR vibe is repeated inside, with Piano Black dashboard treatment and door trim panels matching with red accents, contrast stitching and white faced dials. GR logos embroidered on the headrests and carpets stand out, while black leather seat covers and a GR-branded push start button finish the look. Each Hilux GR Sport includes a branded production plate and serial number.
The touch-screen infotainment system and instrument binnacle layout is identical to the unit found in the Legend 50 and also streams music from DVD, USB, Bluetooth and Aux interfaces.
Steering wheel operability and a reverse camera adds comfort and convenience.
Mechanically the Hilux GR Sport is exclusively fitted with the 130kW and 450Nm 2.8 GD-6 turbo-diesel engine coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. It possesses a sport mode too, which alters throttle response and transmission shift logic.
The GR Sport has collector’s item pasted all over its body. It’s also such a neat and sporty-looking thing owners might be tempted to refrain from value-destroying activities such off-road obstacles, or loading heavy-duty cargo.
I would stick to transporting biltong and crates of ale and travel by gravel only if I have no choice.
Hilux SC 2.8 GD-6 RB Legend 50 MT — R472,000
Hilux SC 2.8 GD-6 RB Legend 50 AT — R491,100
Hilux SC 2.8 GD-6 4X4 Legend 50 MT — R537,700
Hilux SC 2.8 GD-6 4X4 Legend 50 AT — R557,100
Hilux XC 2.8 GD-6 RB Legend 50 MT — R511,100
Hilux XC 2.8 GD-6 RB Legend 50 AT — R530,200
Hilux XC 2.8 GD-6 4X4 Legend 50 MT — R578,800
Hilux XC 2.8 GD-6 4X4 Legend 50 AT — R598,200
Hilux DC 2.8 GD-6 RB Legend 50 MT — R579,100
Hilux DC 2.8 GD-6 RB Legend 50 AT — R598,500
Hilux DC 2.8 GD-6 4X4 Legend 50 MT — R647,600
Hilux DC 2.8 GD-6 4X4 Legend 50 AT — R668,800
Hilux DC 2.8 GD-6 4x4 GR Sport 6AT — R707,400
Hilux DC 4.0 V6 4X4 Legend 50 AT — R712,100
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