Straight off launch, we put new King of Africa Land Cruiser 300 to the tow test
The all-new Land Cruiser 300 happened to launch at a most convenient time, considering that Toyota needed to have one of the reveal units shipped back to Jozi at about the time we had to tow our car up for a race. So the stars aligned perfectly — we were probably the first people in Africa to tow with a 300! There was a bit of a rush to have a genuine tow bar fitted. Pretty cool too — complete with a little LED to light up the hitch should you couple up at night.
300 GOBBLED THE WHOLE LOAD INTO THE BOOT
First things first, we had to pack some pretty gnarly stuff in the back. But we were prepared — the bubble wrap went in first, then the ground sheet, to protect the svelte carpet and crisp plastic from the dirty old jack, trestles and the rest. We’d expected to fold the rear bench seat backrest down to get it all in. So were impressed when all it needed was the second row to shift forward and the backrest to go vertical, as it does. Far safer too, with just a couple of soft bags on the back seat.
Hooking the trailer was a synch. Just pull the french letters off the hitch and plug, drop it on, plug in and flop the chain over. Safety first. And we were up an on the road at 4 am. Our tug was of course Toyota’s hugely significant all-new 227 kW 700 Nm 3.3-litre bi-turbodiesel V6 in top of the range GR get-up. We were going racing, so why would it be anything but the Gazoo Racing version?
We had a few ulterior motives though — not least that we wanted to fully challenge the new turbo’s 32 kW and 50 Nm hike over the old V8. Never mind its 8.9 l/100 km and 238 g/km claims versus the hungrier, almost as new turbo petrol V6.
THE UP-TRIP IS TORTUROUS
Towing out of the Cape is a hard job for any vehicle, as it is for any car on the way up to the Ref from any low altitude location. Somewhere not long after you set off, you will start to climb. And you keep on climbing for a while to come. Not that Cruiser 300 even knew there was a trailer full of part-loaded Bullion IT Polo Cup behind. But it did tell on the economy gauge and we were well into the 16 litre per hundred range by the time we passed Three Sisters.
Not so much by dint of the climb, more thanks to the trouble of having to pull past so many trucks and other doddering traffic. That really added to the consumption. We timed it — on occasions we had to overtake two trucks a minute for an almost an hour. And often it needed the 300 GR to be floored to achieve that with the oncoming traffic and all. Besides all the extra fuel that used, there was very little else to complain about though.
Just needed to remember that there was still a trailer out back! You tend to forget, it’s so stump-pulling strong and that 10-speed auto is always pulling the correct cog for what you need. Talking that 10-speed, one barely notices the changes. Unless you listen too closely. And that even though wind noise is minimal. You must push the 300 to even hear the engine. So we were more than comfortable in the serene Cruiser throughout our drive.
CRUISER 300 ATTRACTED A LOT OF ATTENTION
Land Cruiser 300 of course attracted a lot of attention on the road and most people were curious about it. Unmistakably angular, its far more dynamic looking, yet it has more than a passing resemblance to its hallowed ancestors.
There was also lots of time out on the road to get to know all 300’s little bits and pieces. It took a bit of getting used to all those buttons, but by the time we were done, we quite enjoyed the logic of that infotainment and the rest. Even though it’s not quite up to some of its better European rivals in simplicity and ease of use.
Once we were up and out of the Karoo, it was easier to pick up and maintain speed across the gentle hills and dales of Free State veld, which presented the opportunity to economise and we eventually got it back down under 14 litres per hundred, which is pretty good, all considered. We duly reached out dusty Delmas destination after dark, frazzled by the traffic but suprisingly relaxed by our mighty towing steed.
CRUISER 300 — THE TOWING KING OF AFRICA TOO
On the whole, you cannot get much better a tug than the all-new Land Cruiser 300 GR turbodiesel. Powerful, efficient and omnipotent, it’s not the King of Africa for nothing. Whether you ar towing or not. it certainly earns its title. – Michele Lupini
Images: Giordano Lupini