What South Africa should have got: Butcherer Toyota Hilux GR Sport revealed
In addition to having the same 165kW/550Nm as the South African model, Toyota has beefed-up the exterior and increased the front and rear tracks.
Wider front and rear tracks and extended wheel arches makes for an imposing look
Toyota has sprung an unexpected surprise overnight by revealing a much more rugged Hilux GR Sport destined for Australia.
What has changed?
According to the production version of the disguised prototype spied undergoing testing in Thailand early last month, the GR Sport receives the same upgraded 2.8 GD-6 turbodiesel engine as the South African equivalent that produces 165kW/550Nm, but adds a more aggressive exterior and slightly different interior.
In the case of the former, the Aussie version takes after the domestic market Hilux Rogue and thus receives not only a thicker underguard protection plate, but also a 4Runner-inspired mesh grille complete with a higher positioned block letter TOYOTA badge.
Mounted on chunkier all-terrain wheels wrapped around model specific 17-inch alloys, Toyota has also fitted heavy duty rock sliders as standard, along with a satin silver front skidplate, rear tow hooks, gloss black mirror caps and a gloss black finish for the rear bumper.
By far the biggest exterior difference from the South African-market GR Sport though is the thicker wheel arch flares that gives away the increased front and rear tracks lending the GR Sport an look similar to that of the Arctic Trucks fettled Isuzu D-Max AT35 and indeed the Ford Ranger Raptor.
Compared to the standard Hilux, the track increases stand at 140 mm and 155 mm respectively, which, together with the same mono-tube shock absorbers and upgraded coil spring suspension as the South African GR Sport, has resulted in a ground clearance of 265 mm, departure angle of 26-degrees and approach angle of 30-degrees.
Besides the more powerful engine, mechanical tweaks carried over from the South African model includes the revised power steering and quicker shifting six-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters, but added are disc brakes all around with those at the rear joining the fronts in being ventilated.
As for the interior, the GR branded steering wheel comes with a red 12 o’clock marking not offered in South Africa, while the imitation carbon fibre trim on the dashboard has been replaced by a darker aluminium-type insert without the highlighted red strip at the bottom.
Also missing are the red inserts on the seats, the red stitch work on the steering wheel, seats, centre console and doors, though included are the alloy pedals, the GR starter button and the GR logos on the front headrests.
Will it come?
Sourced from Thailand rather than the Prospecton Plant in Durban, the Hilux GR Sport will officially go on sale in Australia during the second half of this year with pricing to be announced later.
A certainty though is that it won’t be coming to South Africa soon, not only as a result of a GR Sport variant already being available, but equally in part due to a higher price brought on by the relative exterior and chassis adaptions.