We test the King of Toyotas. The Cruiser 300 with a Dakar heart
Having had more than enough time with its biturbo diesel sister, we were most excited to finally get our hands on that Toyota Land Cruiser 300 3.5T. The 305 kW 650 Nm 3.5-litre biturbo petrol V6 one.
This engine is perhaps best known for the job it does in those Gazoo Racing Hiluxes. The bakkies that won overall last year and came home second and third in the yesterday’s Dakar stage. It is also funnily enough the same silky V6 engine that Lexus uses in its staple LS500 limousine.
Powered by Toyota’s Dakar winning V6
Vastly more efficient, powerful, and torquey than the outgoing Cruiser 200’s V8, this engine is used pretty much as is in those Dakar racers. It’s mated to a slick-shifting new 10-speed automatic with a low-range 4×4 set-up in the LC300.
Based on Toyota’s new ladder frame New Global Architecture, the unmistakably angular and dynamic LC 300 bears more than a passing resemblance to its great ancestors. This flashy dark grey 3.5T ZX is the glitzier boulevard version. It has more chrome, bigger wheels, and lower profile tyres. Let just stay that the Tonka toy looks make it a bit of a conversation starter, from Stellenbosch to Sandton.
Step aboard and you may find that some LC300 bits and pieces will take some getting used to. A glut of buttons and functions, and infotainment logic with three narrow panes on a broad central screen isn’t quite as deft as some upper class European rivals. This may seem foreign to someone more versed in simpler and easier to use MBUX, or iDrive, say. Buttons thankfully back up most of the touch functions are, and one soon learns how it all operates.
Cruiser 300 is more than just comfortable
A deep, refrigerated centre cubby is a boon, the generous front cup holders handle any beverage and the conductive phone pad, and both USB and USB C ports, work a treat. There’s ample legroom in the rear. The seats are comfy, but it’s tauter and rougher in the back. You have do have ample control back there, with four zone climate, roof vents, controls and. Add two USB C ports too.
More than just comfortable, Cruiser 300 is serene on the road. Wind noise is minimal. You must push it to hear the engine. It does however roar bravely when asked. There’s a fair amount of feedback from rougher surfaces. More so perhaps than the fatter tyred off-road oriented GR. But this car is supreme on the smooth highway.
Switch the chassis to Sport Plus and 300 does an impressive performance car take. The best of both. Not bad for a literal block of flats. We kept it in plush Comfort most of the time, thank you very much! We never took it off road, but we are already well enough versed in it to know that Land Cruiser 300 is nigh unstoppable on any regular off-road challenge it may face off the beaten track.
Everyone knows what the Cruiser 300 is
The gearbox is invisible. You scarcely notice the changes. Unless you listen too closely. Top end is 210 km/h and Toyota reckons this petrol version consumes 12.1 litres per 100 km while emitting 291 g/km CO2. That’s a bit optimistic. Albeit that we drove it more in the urban realm, we offset that with a fair bit of freeway work, so to fight it to beat 17 litres per 100 was a bit rich.
Of course, being the King of Toyotas in Toyotaland, the Land Cruiser 300 stops the traffic wherever you may take it. Everyone knows what it is. Powerful and efficient, hugely capable, and vastly versatile, judging by how people react to the omnipotent Land Cruiser 300 is one hell of a car.
If you can take that fuel consumption on the chin, this Dakar proven turbo petrol V6 version has a sportscar alter ego to boot. Maybe you can have your cake and eat it, after all… — Michele Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Toyota Land Cruiser 300 3.5T ZX Engine: 305 kW 650 Nm turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 Drive: 10-speed automatic 4x4 TESTED: 0-60 km/h: 2.96 sec 0-100 km/h: 6.32 sec 0-120 km/h: 8.72 sec 0-160 km/h: 15.67 sec 400m: 14.4 sec @ 159 km/h 80-120 km/h: 4.03 sec 120-160 km/h: 6.12 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 210 km/h Fuel: 12.1 l/100 km CO2: 291 g/km Tank/range: 110 litres/900 km Warranty/Service: 3y 100K/9 service 90K km LIST PRICE: R1.888M RATED: 8