Category: Toyota

We Drive the New Toyota RAV4 in South Africa

New Toyota Rav 4

New Toyota RAV4 Driven

We sample the new Toyota Rav4   

 Life is becoming increasingly difficult for us motoring journalists. Don’t believe me? Picture this, then. We now live in a time where a “bad car” really is a rarity. Sure, there are a handful which you really should steer clear of, but for the most part, buy a new car and you’ll be fine. And so, while it may be easy to whip out my forked tongue and make a few nasty quips about the underwhelming elements of a genuinely bad car, it’s a lot more difficult to write at length about a car with which I can find very little, if any, fault.

This brings us to Toyota’s all-new and particularly wonderful RAV4. In short, its spacious, economical, rather exciting to look at and very competitively priced.

2019 Toyota Rav 4

I was lucky enough to be invited to its local media launch in mid-March which saw us exploit the RAV4’s capabilities both on the open road, as well as on gravel roads, all in the humid climes of Northern KZN.

Of course, there’s no denying that for the most part, Toyota make exceptional vehicles, but even Stevie Wonder could see that the majority of their products haven’t been the most exciting things to look at over the past two decades or so. Then, all of a sardine, the 86 arrived, and then the new Hilux, and the C-HR and then the Corolla Hatch, and now the new RAV4. And they are all impeccably built as Toyota’s always have been, as well as lovely to look at! Perhaps the word I’m looking for is exciting, and that’s a direction in which I am pleased to see Toyota going.

New Toyota Rav 4 interior

The original RAV4 was quite the exciting looking thing when it was launched in 1994, however, the models which followed it while capable, never quite had that youthful appeal of the original. It pleases me to report, then, that the all-new RAV4 has now returned to that edgy and youthful image for which it was once so loved, but in doing so hasn’t departed from its luxurious appeal for which the more recent RAV4’s were loved, too. In essence, it’s the best of both worlds, but of course, it gets better than this…

It would seem that the  Toyota RAV4 has somewhat of a universal appeal, and as such, Toyota has accommodated for this in the new Toyota RAV4 lineup. Built on their new TNGA platform, the new RAV4 is available in South Africa in 3 different trim levels with 2 different engines and the choice of either, Automatic, CVT or manual gearboxes.

GX is where the range starts off and sees niceties such as auto-leveling LED headlamps, cruise control, rear PDC and reverse camera, and driver, passenger, side, curtain and knee airbags all as standard, amongst a few others. This is available in 2WD with either a 6-speed manual with rev-matching or CVT transmission which also features a 10-speed stepped ratio function. Toyota’s new direct injection 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol motor does duty here and doesn’t disappoint with 127 kW and 203 N.m while returning a claimed consumption of 6.8 l/100km on the combined cycle. Pricing for the GX is R416 400 for the manual and R427 600 for the CVT.

Jump up to the GX-R and this is where things start looking really fresh and funky with what Toyota calls “Art-leather” available as an option – it essentially mimics the colours and patterns of a running shoe with a two-tone black and light grey interior, accented with orange stitching and rubber inserts here and there. It really works nicely when combined with the “Urban Khaki” exterior, a flat dark grey similar to Audi’s Nardo Grey. A great deal of effort has gone into setting the GX-R apart from its stablemates, with black plastic cladding and different bumper finishes supposedly appealing more to the “Active Generation Y buyers”. It also features an enlarged upper grill, as well as larger skid plates and wheel arches. The GX-R is also only available in five colours, whereas the GX and VX models are available in nine.

In addition to what you’ll find in the GX, GX-R adds leather seats, power adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar adjustment, seat heating, leather steering wheel and gear-selector, keyless entry and start/stop, auto-dimming mirrors, a wireless charger, 3 x 2.1A USB chargers and dual-zone climate control. Featuring the same direct-injection 2.0-litre motor as the GX, the GX-R is only available with in AWD with the CVT transmission. Its priced at R508 100.

At the forefront of the lineup, we have the elegant VX derivatives which perhaps cater to the more mature RAV4 customer in pursuit of a brogue shoe rather than a grey and orange sneaker. The VX features chrome inserts on the door handles and a metal-finish strip the runs the width of the tailgate. It also features 19” polished alloys which really are lovely, as well as a slightly different grill design which also houses a different Toyota emblem, behind which the radar for the adaptive cruise control and front-end collision warning systems sits.

2019 Toyota Rav4 front

In addition to the specification of the GX-R, the VX features auto high beam LED headlights, Toyota Safety sense (pre-crash, lane departure warning with steering intervention, adaptive cruise control), blind spot monitor with cross traffic alert, memory seats, 360 degree cameras and front and rear PDC. The VX can be had with either the 2.0-litre motor mated to a CVT transmission or a 2.5-litre direct-injection motor with outputs of 152 kW and 243 N.m, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Having had a chance to sample both engines, as well as the CVT transmission and the 8-speed automatic, I feel that if your budget only allows for one of the 2.0-litre models, that’s great – they’re perfectly capable. However, I really wouldn’t suggest trying out the 2.5-litre model if you can’t stretch to that, because its smooth power delivery, as well as how well it is mated to the 8-speed box mean that it is in fact quite a bit nicer than the 2.0-litre models.

New Toyota RAV4 Models

Featuring class-leading ground clearance and luggage capacity, a clever torque vectoring system in the AWD models and a more youthful appeal with the introduction of the GX-R model, the all-new RAV4 really does present an appealing option in its segment. That’s a good thing, then, when one considers just how tough the competition in the ‘Small SUV’ segment is. Keep an eye out for our full test review in the coming months.

2019 Toyota Rav4 Pricing in South Africa

The 2.0-litre VX CVT 2WD is priced at R505 400 and the 2.5-litre VX 8AT AWD is priced at R577 900.

Learn more here




The new Toyota Supra has arrived.

New Toyota Supra

New Toyota Supra

Toyota unveiled the long-awaited new Toyota Supra today at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Anyone that was around in the 80’s and 90’s will remember what an icon the Supra was, giving 911’s and Ferrari’s big frights the world over. And for those who weren’t around then, they’d have undoubtedly come across the mighty Supra in the Need For Speed, Midnight Club or Gran Turismo computer and console games. Paul Walker then cast in stone the cars legendary status in the first Fast and The Furious movie and while that particular example was rather distastefully modified, its something that no true motorhead would pass up the chance to own!

You can only imagine the hype, then, when Toyota announced that they were to revive the Supra name. Not only this, but it was rumored that they were going to partner up with one of the best names in the industry – BMW – a surefire recipe for a dynamically brilliant and involving sportscar…

17 years since the last Toyota Supra rolled off the production line, the all-new Gazoo Racing Supra is here. Silly name, yes, but it’ll likely just be known as ‘the Supra’ so no need to worry there.

We’ll hold off on all of the finer details until we have a proper go in one, but here are the hard facts that you need to know right now – the teasers if you will…

New Toyota Supra

Co-developed with BMW, it shares its architecture and many components with the all-new BMW Z4. This isn’t a bad thing, as BMW has also admittedly repositioned the new Z4 as a more driver-oriented vehicle, so you can rest assured that the new Supra certainly has the good bits beneath its svelte and curvy lines.

New Toyota Supra

The Powerplant

A great deal of attention has been paid to ensuring that the new Toyota Supra is balanced, so it’s no surprise that it benefits from a 50/50 weight split. Featuring the same turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line 6-cylinder motor as the Z4 M40i, the top spec RZ is capable of accelerating from 0-100 km/h in 4.3 seconds with its 250 kW and 500 N.m. The rest of the range is pretty quick too with both the SZ-R and SZ models being powered by the same 2.0-litre in-line 4 motor boasting outputs of 190 kW/400 N.m and 145 kW/320 N.m and 0-100 km/h times of 5.2 and 6.5 seconds respectively. For now, ZF’s 8-speed automatic does duty in the Supra but who know’s what the future may bring. At this stage, we don’t have any word on South African specification either but the usual array of technology and safety systems that you can expect to find on the latest premium vehicles will likely be available, too.

New Toyota Supra

Anybody with eyes will see that the interior is a mishmash of the BMW parts bin, new and old, and you know what? I’m fine with that. If there’s a parts bin that one should take advantage of, it’s BMW’s and I think that Toyota engineers and designers have done a nice job of differentiating the Supra’s interior from that of the BMW Z4.

New Toyota Supra Interior

Quality will likely be top-notch as you can expect from a German/Japanese partnership but the decider will be whether or not the Supra lives up to its name in terms of driver dynamics and sheer seat of your pants excitement – no pressure, then!

New Toyota Supra in South Africa

Expect to see the Supra on South African roads mid-2019. It’s not likely to be particularly cheap, so let’s just hope that it has the driving fizz to match both the hype and its looks!

Toyota extends its Hilux and Fortuner Range

Toyota Fortuner

Updated Toyota Hilux and Fortuner

The ever-popular Hilux range has undergone the knife as a very mild refresher, the changes were very slight and more so to create a mild buzz over the introduction of the Xtra Cab model. Its no secret we love Toyota’s giant behemoths, the Hilux is fantastic at being a bakkie and does this very cleverly now with the added leisure element that the modern bakkie needs to have.

Whats new?

This leisure element has resulted in the updates to the interior of the range where the addition of more durable and soft touch leather armrests has replaced the material ones in the models before.

Toyota Hilux

On the outside, the front headlights have been updated to provide a more modern look, which secretly was the spec offered on European models from the jump but nevertheless, the addition of Xenon lighting with  LED driving lights provide better lighting and helps a great deal in the enhancement and creation of a “New Generation” look of the Toyota design mantra. A set of 18” alloy wheels fitted to 265-60-R18 all terrain tyres now come standard on the higher spec Raider models. No changes to the engines and transmissions but the addition of the 6-speed auto to the 2.4G4D engine should improve the drivability and everyday usability of the lesser diesel.

Updated Safety

The most important update to the Hilux range, is the offering of the safety features that where only exclusive of the more expensive models, with single cab SRX and Raider models now inclusive of the of Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) also incorporating Hill Assist Control (HAC) and Trailer Sway Control (TSC) safety systems.

Toyota Hilux

Xtra Cab

The new offering is the extended single cab version of the bakkie. The same variants of engines and transmissions will be offered and the range is completely identical. The addition of the 6-speed auto to the 2.4GD-6 engine is the only difference, and this should also improve the drivability and everyday usability of the lesser diesel.

Fortuner Updates

Much of the Fortuner remains the same but benefits from the same tech and convenience upgrades seen in the modern SUV. The major feature updates include the new electronic tailgate and a 220v electrical outlet on the 2.8GD-6 and V6 Petrol. The lights have been updated too and now feature LED lighting.

Toyota Fortuner

Again the lower spec 2.7-Litre petrol and 2.4 GD-6, received updated safety spec, with the addition of side and curtain airbags and will complement the range of passive safety systems.The New offering of the 6-speed mated to the 2.4GD-6 is translated to the Fortuner and will offer a good way to enter the range.

Toyota Hilux and Fortuner Pricing in South Africa

The Fortuner range starts art R 462,900, rising to R 675,600 with 8 model variants in between.

Single cab Hilux’s start at R243, 200 for the entry-level model, this rises to R435 700 with the top of the range Hilux SC 2.8 GD-6 RB RAIDER 6AT (NEW). In the Ultra Cab department, pricing starts at R365 300 for the Hilux XC 2.4 GD-6 RB SRX 6MT and rises to R525 500 for the top of the range 2.8 4×4 6 Speed Auto. Double Cab models start at R 394 700 rising to R 465 400.


Toyota Corolla RUNX TRD

Toyota Corolla RUNX TRD

We throwback and drive the Toyota Corolla RunX TRD

Those of you born in the late 80’s and to some degree the early 90’s will understand the shift in motoring focus from the high RPM small capacity atmospheric 20V engines, to the smaller, polar bear friendly turbo mills. See, back in what I’d describe as the good old days, the likes of the Sentra 200STi and Corolla RSI and RXI where the best way to get to places in a hurry. These were the ultimate in cheap, reliable, fast cars, far cheaper than the Germans and an absolute hoot with whizzy little engines with rather silly redlines.  Toyota knew this all too well as we loved the RSI and its 4AGE-20V engine, so much so that when they canned it and replaced it with the bloated Corolla, it was considered a great loss to the world of motoring, This was until 2003 when they slotted a 141 kW @ 7800 RPM and 180 N.m,  1.8-litre naturally aspirated 16V engine into the humble RunX, thus creating the RSi.

The Runx RSi has always been a car that I’ve wanted to own, having driven them plenty times both at the coast where they run GTI’s very close with a few breather mods, and up at altitude, where they run GTI’s very close once more. The drive I’ve always lusted over, however, is the more elusive TRD model. Toyota Racing Developments took the RSi and made everything just a little bit crisper and added some proverbial ‘Vuma’, with a short throw shifter and a set of TRD specific wheels. This lust led me to the hands of a generous owner, sporting a Black TRD with a 63mm sports exhaust,  IJEN cold air induction kit and lightened fly wheel, all mine for the day. Standard the car posted a 0-100 time of 8 Seconds and a top speed of 230km/h. Figures that don’t sound all too impressive, but in the real world this is a seriously fun car.

Driving Impressions

Picking up the car, the vehicle’s unassuming looks suggest nothing out of the ordinary and driving in town, it feels like the typical cold pudding drive that the normal models possess.  It looks like a typical RunX, no flares, no nostrils just some subtle touches like the rear spoiler and the larger wheels. On the inside, the same theme runs its course – the RunX has absolutely nothing interesting about the interior, just a small TRD logo on the on the floor mats and gear knob, but under the skin are stiffer springs and a TRD strut bar. This was very clearly a RunX before it was a TRD project. Interestingly enough, I enjoyed this, the calm nature of the car it was nothing to ring home about, a great ride, loads of space and a light clutch it was great, reminded me a lot of my mother’s Corolla of the same era. This was until a 1.4TSI Polo GTI appeared in my side view mirror at a red light. No sport buttons, no Traction Control to worry about just you and the car. The light turned green and I buried the tiny accelerator into the carpet. The front wheels scrabbling for grip as the Rev’s climbed 4000, 5000, all leading to the epic climax of the glorious VVTL-I system, which kicks in at 6200r/pm. The Variable Valve Timing and Lift-intelligent system transform the engine from potter around town mode, to ‘Kill all hatches’. The car changes it’s demeanour, a more aggressive cam profile takes over and it barks away viciously to the 8 300 rpm Rev limiter. The Polo was not far behind but through the aid of DSG, it was fast catching up but at no point did it ever make the pass. It was deadly close by the time traffic approached but more importantly, the young buck in the Polo was red with rage as though a 10-year-old grocery getter had vomited all over his Twin-charged GTI moniker.

The car is a proper riot, the engine comes alive the harder you push it and frankly, I did a fine job of kicking it about. Driven like this, the TRD is an incredibly quick car and the short throw shifter is precise and direct, very easy to bang the close ratios together in a delicious soufflé like treat.  The chassis feels light and agile like ones riding on the back of an excitable rabbit.  The steering is a tad bit light but is still very good at telling you where the front wheels are pointing.  A point to note is that unlike modern day turbocharged hatched, first-time drivers will be surprised at how hard you have to push the car to make fast progress, flat foot shifting at rev limit is the only way to ensure you stay in lift and the car doesn’t fall on its face. It required an incredible lack of vehicle sympathy as if you want to get the old girl in a hot and bother, you do have to be rather rough. Front end grip is bang on, as the grip is helped by the relatively light weight and the way the power is delivered means you can get on the gas earlier and enjoy the climb to the ‘Lift’ off that the car provides. If I had a single complaint it would be the tiny pedals that make heel-toe shifts somewhat a challenge but it’s very much an enjoyable car, still more than enough to surprise the smaller hatches and catch them out in the game of Robot Jousting. The engine loves to rev and rewards you for doing so but it’s rather easy to fall out of the sweet spot and kill all the fun. In 2017, the TRD is now ten years old but still possess the ability to teach the 2ZZ-GE a lesson. Not forgetting that it’s still a Toyota and on my quest to find one suitable for the test I came across many with over 300 thousand km’s on the clock. That still felt super tight and ran just like new.  

Toyota Toyota Corolla RUNX TRD Pricing in South Africa

Early pre-facelift RSi’s start at around R80 000 with later 2007 TRD models still fetching around R150 000. This is no small amount of money and given the way these need to be driven to deliver rapid progress, the issue of damaged transmission synchros and replaced engines will become common on cheaper and older models.

A major problem with the RunX RSi/TRD is that the engines are thirsty for oil and starvation of oil will result in almost immediate failure, but the only way this can happen is through an over-rev, but I loved the RSi and frankly still do. Nowadays, hot hatches are rather quick so one needs to be awake for you to get the car moving really quickly, but do it right and you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank!