First Drive: 2017 Toyota Hilux Raider Black

First Drive: 2017 Toyota Hilux Raider Black

Toyota is no stranger to offering limited editions of its Hilux models. In the past many have eluded me, but the most recent in mind were the Legend editions — the 30, 40 and 45 all commemorating the Hilux’s anniversary at varying times of its life.

There were also Dakar editions of the previous generation celebrating the model’s exploits in the race, where the racing model came runner-up on more than one occasion. Now the new model, which was launched in the first quarter of 2016, has received a limited edition variant, dubbed the Raider Black.

Based on the flagship 2.8 GD-6 double cab, the model is said to bring a tinge of black into the Hilux range. So what makes the model, well, black then?

How does a black gloss grille, black bumper insert, colour coded fender extenders, colour coded mirrors, 18-inch alloy wheels and gloss black roof, black styling bar and tonneau cover sound? There are also black leather seats — with an electrically adjustable seat — with white contrast stitching and faux carbon fibre inlays.

Lest you are still in doubt, there are also black badges on either of the front doors. Not black enough you reckon? I have to concur, but then there seems to be method to the madness, according to a Toyota SA spokesperson. One of the reasons is that traditionally, Hilux owners are not particularly open to a radical departure of their trusty Hilux and that black paintwork, which is available as an option, has not had a particularly good uptake.

As a result, Toyota SA has made available the Hilux Raider Black only in white and silver hues, which are said to be popular colours for the range. A total of 1 000 units of the model will be produced over the next three months and these will command a R27 000 premium over the regular models they are based on. So the starting price is R521 000 for the raised body manual going up to R604 300 for the flagship 4×4 automatic.

We spent a few days in the latter model to reacquaint ourselves with the bestseller in the segment and, to be fair, the Hilux still imparts a feeling of being sturdily built, which was quite evident while driving off the beaten track. On the road, I reckon many rivals still show the Hilux a clean pair of heels, as it still displays that ride shimmy that afflicts some ladder frame based bakkies. Both the Mitsubishi Triton and Volkswagen Amarok have a more superior, even SUV-like, ride quality.

The 2.8 GD-6 engine with its 130kW and 420Nm is sufficient for towing, while fuel consumption hovered around the 9.4l/100km figure, more than acceptable in this segment.

Overall performance and refinement is probably not class leading and I believe the 2.4 GD-6 is the one to go for if towing heavy loads does not rank highly in your requirements.

The interior is still relatively fresh, thanks to the floating infotainment screen and well laid-out cabin. There is also good rear legroom and I particularly liked the running boards, which made getting into the cabin easier. The styling seems to have grown on me over time and particularly in this flagship spec, the model cuts a modern pose.

While the Hilux may not be every bakkie to every man, one can understand why it continues to sell in droves every month as it remains capable, sturdily built and, for many, that is all that matters in the end. – Lerato Matebese

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