Motoring / Motoring News
Jaco Van Der Merwe
Everyone had an opinion, ranging from jaw-dropping admiration to the more mischievous views of ‘’gangster van’’.It’s not often that so many lookers-on comment on one of The Citizen’s test cars, but I guess that is what you get when inserting Toyota’s very unique Quantum VX Premium into the usual line-up of unobtrusive cars facing the wall in our basement parking lot.
It’s larger than life, generously chromed and extremely boxy by today’s standards. I must admit that most of the chirps were quite accurate, but the gangster ones were a bit harsh. To fit that bill, this van obviously needs to be the more striking Raven Black rather than the Satin Silver Metallic we had on test.
However, even the harshest of critics of the exterior design were forced to eat humble pie as soon as the side doors slid open. The quilted leather the seats are clad in, the elegant wood trim, soft blue lighting and the enormous amount of space on offer – aided by the superb view from the side windows and an open sunroof – is enough to give anyone that only associates Toyota people carriers with overcrowded minibus taxis fresh perspective. But sadly, the first glimpse at this luxurious haven is also the very moment everyday taxi commuters that were so excited up to that point realised this simply isn’t the ride they were so wishing to take them to work and back home one day.
Despite the new generation of Quantum sporting its distinctive semi-bonneted design being available locally since May 2019 already, it’s still not an everyday sight on our roads yet, especially not as a preferred people carrier. After its release, Toyota reintroduced the previous generation 14-seater Quantum by popular demand under the HiAce nameplate, joining the two popular Ses’Fikile 16-seaters. Speaking of which, the two 16-seaters retail for R441 400 and R467 600 respectively, with the said GL 14-seater priced at over a R100k more at R571 900.
In addition, the new Quantum people carrier range starts at R631 100 for the 11-seater, R647 700 for the 14-seater with the top-of-the-range nine-seater VX Premium topping the charts at R947 400. These numbers clearly indicate why the taxi bosses prefers the HiAce over the Quantum, but the need for moving more people than the average passenger car can carry isn’t limited to South Africa’s massive taxi industry.
When the ride isn’t purely bottom line driven, the demand for more space and comfort starts rising. And that is exactly where the new generation Quantum offerings come in. The 11 and 14-seaters offer additional comfort to that of the HiAce range, with the VX Premium a proper bearer of the flagship label.
And even though Toyota says this upmarket van is aimed ‘’to high-end family, hospitality and corporate buyers’’, it’s hard to warm up to the Quantum VX in terms of a family carrier. It is much easier to picture four German tourists and their luggage along with a tour operator and driver making their way from OR Tambo to the Pilanesberg in this ride than it is to see a mother and her three children making their way to school in the morning. For starters, I simply can’t see the ride to school generate the kind of thirst that justifies access to no less than 10 drinks holders to in the second row.
But the dead giveaway that this van is more eager to please its passengers than the driver, is the fact that those very people in the second row have heated seats, a luxury the driver doesn’t have access to. As much as I love my family and would like to make those in the back comfortable during winter, the idea of forking out close to a million rand that doesn’t allow you as owner and driver to have your own warm seat is hard to swallow.
But less of what the VX isn’t good at and more on where it does excel. Being a nine-seater, in addition to the two seats in front, both the VX’s second and third rows consist of a pair of captain’s seats, with the fourth row consisting of a 60/40 split three-seater bench. Like is the case with all variable configuration cabins, the more legroom you opt for across the three back rows, the less luggage space you’ll have available behind the fourth row.
When utilising the cabin’s standout feature, the individual reclining seats in the second and third row, seating on the bench seat becomes near impossible. These four seats all feature power-adjusted backrests and ‘’ottoman’’ leg-rests. Rear climate control, dual power-operated sliding doors, sunshades and multiple USB ports complete the package in the rear.
The Quantum VX is powered by Toyota’s proven four-cylinder 2.8 GD-6 turbodiesel engine which sends 115kW/420Nm to the rear wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox. The van is equipped with Toyota’s state Safety Sense suite, which includes Pre-Collision with Pedestrian detection and Cyclist Detection, high-speed active cruise control, lane departure alert, road sign assist and automatic high beam.
As far as fuel consumption goes, we recorded a number of 12.5l/100km for the duration of our tester’s stay, not bad at all considering the VX weighs in at more than 2.7 tonnes.
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