Ryan Bubear takes a trip to Mozambique in the new Toyota Hilux 2.4 GD-6 Double Cab 4x4 SRX...
Last month, we sampled the long-awaited eighth-generation Toyota Hilux, the latest version of a nameplate with a deep history and loyal following in South Africa.
At the local launch, we spent much of our time with the new, remarkably civilised 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine, and were left thoroughly impressed by just how comfortable and refined this popular bakkie has become.
Unfortunately, the other exciting new mill in the 23-model range — the 2.4-litre oil-burner — wasn't available to test at that point, since none had yet rolled off the brand's Durban production line. Pity, we thought.
So, when we were afforded the opportunity to evaluate this smaller engine — in this case, doing duty under the bonnet of an all-wheel drive double-cab variant boasting the mid-range SRX trim — we were rather keen, to say the least. Indeed, a jaunt from northern KwaZulu-Natal into Mozambique and back would provide the perfect opportunity to put the new mill through its paces.
Handily, a 2.8-litre model fitted with an automatic transmission was also available to test, allowing us to compare the two new powertrains directly. And, rather interestingly, we found ourselves preferring the punchy 2393cc unit (despite its output deficit), which coped easily with everything from swift overtaking manoeuvres to low-speed sand work.
Admittedly, the 2.4 GD-6 Double Cab 4x4 SRX we drove was fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox (as opposed to the 2.8-litre's new six-cog auto), which lends the driver a little more control, and employs a short lever and light shift-action. Even without the Japanese automaker's new iMT rev-matching function, this transmission is a colossal improvement over the previous generation's manual 'box. But the star of the show was undoubtedly the forced induction diesel unit whirring away up front.
Yes, this 110kW turbo-diesel — which replaces the previous range's trusty 75kW 2.5 D-4D engine — can be had in one of two torque outputs: 343Nm and 400Nm. We sampled the latter, which has its considerable peak twisting force on tap between 1600rpm and 2000rpm. Other than a smidgen of turbo-lag, this high-output version feels strong both through the gears and out on the open road.
Like all xtra- and double-cab variants in the local line-up, the 2.4 GD-6 4x4 SRX features three driving modes — Standard, Eco, and Power — with the latter markedly improving throttle response particularly when cruising in sixth gear. Indeed, with the engine ticking over at well under 2000rpm at 120km/h, prodding this button and leaning on the loud pedal serves up the sort of almost-instantaneous response that makes overtaking a doddle.
Toyota claims a combined fuel consumption of 7.3 litres per 100km for this model, which translates into a theoretical range of more than 1000km from the 80-litre tank. The dash from standstill to three figures, meanwhile, takes a quoted 13.2 seconds, and top speed comes in at 170km/h.
But all-wheel drive double-cabs aren't generally built to chase sprint records, and instead boast other varied areas of expertise. In this case, one of those departments is off-road ability, and it's here that the Hilux continues to shine. Yes, the big bakkie — with its 286mm ground clearance — simply sailed over the same sand track that had us sweating (and a few of our colleagues stuck) in the soft-roading RAV4 late last year.
Shifting from H2 to H4 can be done on the fly (up to speeds of 50km/h) with a simple twist of the electronic rotary four-wheel drive switch, while calling up low-range — which we didn't even need — requires the vehicle to be stationary.
Of course, like the 2.8-litre we evaluated at the local launch, the 2.4 GD-6 delivers a far more refined driving experience than its predecessor. The mill itself is infinitely more sophisticated, while cabin insulation has also been greatly improved. And, despite the rigid ladder-frame chassis, ride comfort, too, is far superior.
That said, road imperfections are far more keenly felt on the rear bench than they are up front, and spending much more than a few minutes back there during anything more strenuous than a light off-road excursion can prove somewhat punishing. Still, at least the rear passenger compartment is roomy enough to comfortably house up to a trio of relatively tall adults.
The mid-range SRX specification means this model has enough bells and whistles to satisfy so-called "lifestyle" buyers, too, featuring standard items such as air-conditioning, electric windows, electric side-mirrors, a multi-functional steering wheel (with tilt-and-telescopic adjustment), an audio system (with USB and auxiliary ports), Bluetooth, remote central locking, and a new anti-theft system.
On the safety front, this model features three airbags, ABS with EBD, brake assist, and outer-rear IsoFix child-seat anchors. Braked towing capacity comes in at a decent 3200kg, while a five-year or 90 000km service plan is also included in the price. Unfortunately, however, the 2.4 GD-6 has to make do with black plastic door handles, and steel wheels rather than alloys.
Overall, though, the new Toyota Hilux 2.4 GD-6 Double Cab 4x4 SRX represents rather good value as a dual-use vehicle at R439 900 (some R90k cheaper than the equivalent if somewhat better-equipped 2.8-litre variant). Like much of the rest of the line-up, it's both more refined and perhaps even more capable than the previous model.
And, thanks largely to its new torque-rich 2.4-litre turbo-diesel heart — which acquits itself remarkably well when compared to the already impressive 2.8 GD-6 — it may just be the dual-use sweet spot in the ten-model double-cab range.
Read more about the new model in our full launch report...
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See page two for specs and pricing.