Will Toyota SA’s New Hilux GR Sport Reset the Bakkie Record Books?

Regular readers will know that Auto arose out ofd what were once Bakkie and Cars in Action magazines. So we’ve specialised in bakkies for a quarter century now. One thing we have learned about bakkies, is that their 0-100 km/h times are probably even more important to new buyers than load and tow ability. Which also means that the 4-cylinder turbodiesel bakkie that’s quickest in our 0-100 tests, is pretty much king. But is the king dead? Is this new 165 kW 550 Nm Toyota Hilux GR Sport the new king?

TURBODiEsel Bakkies Were Once Slow

That we must still ascertain. First however, a little history. Before 2000, it was an achievement for a diesel bakkie to beat 14 seconds to 100. It improved steadily over the years until 2012. Ten years ago, the Nissan Navara DCI 145 was the bakkie drag strip king at 11.2 seconds to 100 km/h. It took the Volkswagen Amarok TDI 132 4×4 DC Auto to unsettle it in a 10.3 second run in 2013. Then, of all things, the Cummins 2.8-powered Foton Tunland shaved another couple of tenths’s off in 2014. Remember it?

All our tests are run on the same strip of road using the same VBox test kit, in case you are wondering. And it took until 2017 for that Foton to be beaten. First, the Toyota Hilux 2..8 GD6 lowered the mark to 10.2. Before the Mitsubishi Triton 2.4 came so close to shattering the ten-second barrier at 10.02 seconds. It took another wildcard to finally clip that ten second barrier. Triton’s Italian stepsister Fiat Fullback lowered the mark to 9.81 seconds later that year.

Then the new biturbo Ford Ranger Wildtrak dropped the mark 9.48 seconds in 2019. And finally, the new Triton kept it in the family to set the current best 9.47 second mark by the skin of its teeth! For the record, the latest Toyota Hilux Legend managed a competitive 9.58 seconds. And most competitive turbodiesel bakkies accelerate to 100 this side of 11 seconds these days. But remember, these are 4-cylinder turbodisel figures only. They exclude five-cylinders and V6 bakkies. Why, would you compare a Ferrari to a Fiesta? Us neither.

They Teased GR SpORT Around the Dakar

Anyway, we asked a few weeks back, what that white Hilux was in Toyota’s Gazoo ads around the Dakar. And here it is. Lo and behold, against all odds, Toyota quietly confirmed that the forthcoming Toyota Hilux GR Sport will benefit a 15 kW power and a 50 Nm torque hike to new record numbers when it arrives. Which will make it a most worthy candidate for our quickest four-pot bakkie crown. Now all that needs to happen, is Toyota must launch it and dispatch one to Auto for that test. Will it, or won’t it? Time will tell!

Getting back to GR Sport, it now seems that there are three different versions for sale around the world. This beefier South African version appears otherwise identical to the European bakkie with bespoke suspension tune. Based on a Hilux Raider, SA’s GR Sport will likely share Europe’s monotube dampers and stiffer front coils. For better response, sharper handling, and increased grip. That’s of course over and above the standard Hilux LS differential Active Traction Control and recent reduced noise dampening.

The SA GR Sport has black trim treatment from the wing mirrors to its side steps and flared wheel arches. There’s a fat TOYOTA gong across the grille, it has GR badges, new fog light garnish and LED headlights. The local one however forsake those shiny machine faced European 17-inch alloys for the third, Thai version’s darker wheels, and all-terrain tyres. The Thai GR Sport has a body colour Legend grille surround and tri, and like the new SA version, Toyota GR inspired war colours on its flanks.

Euroeans, Aussies, et al, Are Jealous!

We expect the made in SA Euro Hilux GR Sport’s red stitched leather and synthetic suede sports seats, and aluminium sports pedals to carry over to the local version. Add paddle shifters on its leather multifunction centre lined GR steering wheel. Also likely are a JBL sound system, smart entry, dual-zone air conditioning and Downhill Assist Control. Only ours will get that more powerful version that it already seems the Europeans, Aussies, et al, are already jealous of, when it arrives ‘around May’ this year.

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