Tag: 4×4

Why the Toyota Hilux TRD prototype would be a major seller in South Africa

The bakkie market in South Africa has undoubtedly got a very loyal fan base. Month in and month out there are thousands of pick-ups sold in the country, with the two biggest competing brands being Ford and Toyota. Ford has risen to the top recently because not only is their offering very capable, the Ranger also looks very good. It’s the closest South Africans can get to a hardcore looking truck without paying the premium of importing something like a Dodge Ram. In fact I personally know people who have bought the Ford Ranger purely based on its looks. Most of them have probably not even used low range on their cars but as long as they look the part, their happy. Some have even taken their Fords to another level by adding the infamous Raptor kit, making it even more menacing in appearance.

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The ruggedness of the Ford Ranger Wildtrack is something the Toyota Hilux is missing. The Hilux is a pretty car but note the use of the word pretty, something that shouldn’t be said of a bakkie. What the Hilux needed in South Africa was the look of the Hilux TRD prototype that was revealed two years ago in Bangkok. This Hilux is what our market needs because it looks fantastic. Flared wheel arches, a larger and more aggressive bumper and tasteful bits in black make for an aesthetically pleasing look. To add to that, there is black side skirting on the car and red stickers on the bonnet and on the side of the vehicle. The reason why this car would do well in the country is because the traditional bakkie buyer is not the only person interested in this type of vehicle nowadays.

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The traditional buyer is one that is looking for quality and reliability, something Toyota has gotten right over the years. Generally, these buyers will use their cars on various terrains and the cars will be used to their full capacity. The newer bakkie buyer though is generally more lifestyle based, so the car needs to work well for a weekend getaway whilst doing a good job as a normal daily drive. As a result, aesthetic appeal has become of significant importance for many buyers hence the success of the Ford Ranger. If the Toyota Hilux TRD were to come into production and was sold in South Africa, it would be a great answer to the Ford. The merger of the reliable nameplate coupled with some amazing looks would make for a very appealing product. The question then is will Toyota make this rugged machine? If so our Toyota lovers would be very pleased. Especially since the range already sells a boat load every month.

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A Mercedes-Benz Bakkie – Would you buy one?

Over recent years we have seen the Pickup or Bakkie market change, instead of the classic workhorse, Bakkies are used more for commercial and private sectors, simultaneously. Not only have they adapted into vehicles that look and feel great, they also have plenty of space for passengers, especially the double cab models.

Mercedes have cottoned onto this and released the first concept images of their new  X – Class. Mercedes say they will change the segment of mid-size pickups by releasing the world’s first premium Bakkie, fair enough. There are two model variants, the first being entitled “stylish explorer.” As you can see from the designs, this is a more upmarket urban vehicle which maybe gets used for a cross-border family trip once in a while. The interior is true Mercedes style with leathers, woods, and shiny metal. Although being a Bakkie, I can’t imagine this vehicle will be lugging around too much construction/building materials during its life. I feel its more aimed at the owner or big boss of a construction company or architectural firm, maybe once in a while a spanner and screwdriver might slip into the back.

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The second is the X Class “powerful adventurer.” This vehicle, as the name suggests have been aimed at those kinds of people who like to go out, explore and conquer many terrains and lands. This model is my kind of vehicle; it features massive ground clearance, big, chunky off-road tires measuring 35 inches high, by 11 inches wide, the wild offroad styling is finished off by an electric front winch. The interior is still luxurious but has more rugged, out there kind of feel. The Powerful Adventurer is the kind of vehicle which would be loaded up with surfboards and driven over the border into Namibia when the Skeleton Bay surf is firing. Both variants will contain the classic Mercedes tech such as online connected drive systems, lots of sensors, fancy suspension systems and the like. Regarding engines, Mercedes have said top-of-the-line models will be powered by a V6 Diesel, coupled with a very technical four-wheel drive system.

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Mercedes are aiming the X Class at five markets with one of them being the successful adventurer/extreme sports person.( They will need to be successful to afford one of these) Another target market is active families with an “affinity” to premium products( See above, once is a while cross-border holiday). The X class is also aimed at trend-conscious individualists, business owners and landowners in South Africa.

These vehicles are targeting for a late 2017 launch, the question for me is price, the X class is a much more premium vehicle than the R600k Wildtrack, so how much more is it going to cost? Unfortunately for most, I feel this vehicle is going to be out of their league.

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Isuzu KB Launch Namibia

Namibia; located in southwest Africa, is a country of great landscapes. A place where huge sandy hills called “dunes” stretch along the coast for miles, a relatively desolate place filled with natural beauty and minimal people.

Isuzu South Africa thought this would be a perfect place to test out their all new KB, and I tended to agree. In our November (Edition 06) of our digital magazine, we will have a full feature of the whole trip. For now, though I’m here to tell you about the updates to the new Isuzu KB.

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Updates

All the upgrades for this model come in the form of visuals, there are no drivetrain changes in any models of the new KB range.  The front end of the KB has received the most work with a redesigned front bonnet, radiator grill, and front fog lamps. The eyes of the KB have also been upgraded and now feature projector headlamps and LED daytime running lights.

The rear of this vehicle received slight changes with a newly designed rear tailgate and  the integration of a rear parking camera in the handle, which is only available on double cab LX Models. To finish of the exterior changes, Isuzu has supplied all models with newly designed alloy wheels, 18” inch on the LX Models and 16” on all other variants. Though only small, these changes do give the KB a fresh look and slightly more aggressive appeal, which every 4 x 4 should have.

There are two changes inside the cabin of the KB, with the main change being a new instrument cluster, which even has a little gearshift indicator to help keep the planet green. The second change comes in the form of roof mounted rear speakers to increase audio and volume inside the cabin.

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Driving

On launch we had the KB 300 LX models in manual and auto, this specific KB produces 130kw and 380nm of torque. I  enjoyed cruising on the road and sand; it had plenty of power and performance when tackling challenging terrain and a surprisingly comfy ride on rough road. Most likely due to the revised rear suspension changes on the 4×4 models. (4 X 2 models received revised changes to the front and rear suspension setups.)  The interior in KB is pleasant; I would not describe it as anything more to be honest. Don’t expect Toyota Hilux or Ford Ranger levels of luxury; this vehicle appeals to me as more of a work/adventure 4×4, rather than a take your kids to school kind of 4×4 and maybe drive in some mud every 6 months. A massive benefit though is that the LX models come with Sat-Nav, even if it is a bit finicky to operate and has a terribly annoying speed warning system which ended up in us shouting at the screen. Turn the Sat-Nav off, and the warning stops, thankfully.

NAMIBIA, DUNES, DRIVING, 4X4,THEMOTORISTS,ISUZU, LANDSCAPES, SAND, AFRICA, SAMAYRES

We had been told that off-road driving is all about the driver and not the vehicle. Even still, you can’t take a front wheel drive hatchback through those dunes, and the KB  proved itself out in the sand; All modes were easy to operate and switching to 4×4 from 4×2 can be done at up to 110kph. Switching to 4×4 low range needs to be done with the vehicle at a stop, which is usually the standard process on all vehicles.  It was a fantastic trip with lots learned and great memories made.  As previously mentioned, we will have a full feature on the journey in Edition 06 of our digital magazine, which you can subscribe to below.

 

Subscribe to our digital magazine here.

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Models

KB 250 BASE SINGLE CAB (LEED) – R 235 000

KB 250 FLEETSIDE SINGLE CAB (LEED) – R 258 800

KB 250 FLEETSIDE (SAFETY) – R 285 600

KB 250 SINGLE CAB LE – R 334 500

KB 250 4X4 SINGLE CAB LE – R 386 800

KB 300 4X4 SINGLE CAB LX – R442 800

 

Extended Cab

KB 250 EXTENDED CAB HI-RIDER – R 337 400

KB 300 EXTENDED CAB LX – R 414 000

KB 300 EXTENDED CAB LX (AUTO) – R 427 900

KB 300 4X4 EXTENDED CAB LX – R 474 400

 

Double Cab

KB 250 DOUBLE CAB HI-RIDER – R 351 300

KB 250 DOUBLE CAB LE – R 435 200

KB 250 Double Cab LE – R 457 400

KB 300 Double Cab LX – R 384 200

KB 300 Double Cab LX (Cloth) – R 486 900

KB 300 Double Cab LX (Auto) (Cloth) – R 501 200

KB 300 4×4 Double Cab LX – R 549 800

KB 300 4×4 Double Cab LX (Auto) – R 563 500