News of the week:
• Road death toll over the festive season has decreased by 0.6% from previous year and the price of fuel has also decreased significantly.
• Last week, the Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters announced that she was not happy with the 1147 fatalities on South African roads between 1 December and 5 January.
• While the figures are a decrease, we need to do more to kerb the number of road deaths.
• Peters said it was of grave concern that South Africans failed to obey traffic rules, to avoid drinking and driving, and to maintain their vehicles in a roadworthy condition.
• The positives, however, are that local government officials are conducting studies in Australia and Sweden to better understand their methodologies, and which could be implemented locally.
• In other news, the price of fuel has decreased significantly, dropping by around R1.25 for petrol across the country.
• This has impacted positively over the few months with petrol price decreases, especially in these economically tough times.
• The petrol price is largely dependent on two factors – the exchange rate and the price of crude oil. While the Rand hasn’t been favourable against the US Dollar, the price of Crude Oil has come down well below the $50 per barrel mark.
• Hopefully, it does assist to bring down the cost of food, and put more money back into the consumer’s pocket.
• An example, a few months back, I was paying around R570 to refill my Ford Fiesta. I refilled my tank earlier this week and spent just R450. That’s a R120 saving per tank from the same period around six months ago.
Road test: Toyota Hilux 3.0 D-4D Legend 45
We all know that Toyota is working on the eighth generation of Hilux, but remains tight-lipped on exactly when it will be launched. One day, we might catch Toyota out and be able to speculate but in the meantime, many customers remain quite content to stay with the tried and tested Hilux generation seven.
The reason why so many owners (and potential owners) will continue to buy this vehicle is durability, reliability and, if they should decide to eventually trade-in, excellent and unbeatable resale value. The year 2014 represented another milestone in Hilux history; in fact, 45 years of history. So a special edition has been released named the Legend 45.
The history of the Hilux in SA
With just short of one-million sales in SA alone — and a combined 13-million worldwide — the Hilux has been the longest active model range of any vehicle in SA and has been a market leader for an incredible 43 years.
Even with strong recent competition from the likes of the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT50, it continues to hold an average 34% share of the local one-ton market. Sadly, after being the best-selling bakkie for more than 40 years, the Ford Ranger has now become the top-selling bakkie in the country.
The first-generation Toyota Hilux appeared in 1969, had a 1.5L petrol engine, a single cab and cost just R1 525. Today, the new special edition Legend 45 is available in 13 different versions, comprising single, Xtra and double cab bodies, three engines and 4×2 or 4×4 choices, with prices ranging from R300 200 to R533 900.
The Hilux has been built at Toyota’s Prospecton plant in Durban since the early 70s and started dubbing vehicles as Legend Series with the launch of the Legend 35 in 2004.
Meet the Legend 45
The Legend 45 package has the following updates to previous Raider versions: new headlamp and fog lamp design, smoked tail-lamps, stainless steel nudge bar and rear bumper, towbar, matt black side steps, 17-inch wheels finished in anthracite, Legend 45 badging, black leather upholstery, gear lever knob and steering wheel with silver stitching, reverse camera and a DVD touch screen, colour coded door handles and Bluetooth audio streaming. Remember that all models have rear diff locks.
Perhaps the best of the package is the black leather interior. This does suit most of us better than the beiges and greys that are often offered on oriental vehicles.
To fit in with the Legend 45 theme, we drove the vehicles on some routes through the roads of Limpopo. This included Bela Bela, Naboomspruit, and as far up as Polokwane. Although the gear lever is long, the action is positive.
I spent a fair number of those kilometres behind the wheel of the 3.0 D-4D 4×4 double cab, and as one would expect, it didn’t miss a beat. When it came to off-road conditions, there wasn’t anything particularly challenging and it was simply a case of selecting 4×4 high range and enjoying some play on the loose gravel.
On the highway stretches, the cruise control came in handy and enabled us to savour the beauty of the landscape. At times, when we hit an undulating surface, the vehicle would feel slightly light – but I would put that down to the fact that we had no luggage in the large cargo hold.
Power is claimed at 120kW and 343Nm of torque, which is enough to keep you moving, but it doesn’t quite match up to some of its competitors.
The 3.2 TDCI Ford Ranger with a beastly 147kW and 470Nm, while the smaller 2.5L Mitsubishi Triton produces 131kW and 400Nm and the Amarok with a 2.0L TDI produces 132kW and 400Nm. The Isuzu KB 300 produces 130kW and 380Nm of torque, which makes the Toyota’s power figures look rather mundane.
The drive, however, is superb and the engine performs like any Toyota product should… effortlessly. The gear changes were long but did the job nevertheless, while the steering feel cannot be faulted either.
The suspension is firm and can shake you around on really poor surfaces but it is designed to take a full load with full composure and is a suitable blend of a workhorse for the farm with lifestyle tendencies. Leather seating provides good comfort levels over the four hours or so of driving through the not-so-great roads of Limpopo.
During my test period, I averaged around 10.5-litres as a combined fuel consumption. On the highway stretches, I got it down to low 8.8-litres per 100km. Performance isn’t startling, it will get from 0-100kph in 12.7 seconds. But it’s not built for speed, rather, it’s got the grunt to be a true workhorse
A plus is that this size of vehicle is easier to manoeuvre and park than the new generation of double cabs that have grown in size.
The different displays in the facia still don’t match up colour wise but, over the years, I have come to accept that the Toyota designers do things their way, concentrate on the important stuff such as top-rate mechanicals and the electrics and that’s actually fine.
Our test unit was priced at R495 000. That’s a huge amount of money to pay for a special Edition. If I had to pick, I would choose the Ford Ranger Wildtrak equivalent, priced at R474 000 and offers much more value for money. The Legend 45 does include a 5-year/90 000km service plan.
Let’s see what happens with the eight generation, but for now, there’s little to complain about with the current offering.
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