It’s a no: Toyota Hilux Champ not yet ready for South Africa
No official date or confirmation for South Africa prevails, however, "options" are being looked into for a eventual market introduction.
Retro-styled Champ has attracted interest from Toyota South Africa, but for now, remains a forbidden entity. Image: Toyota Thailand
A notable absentee at its annual State of the Motoring Industry (SOMI) conference last week, Toyota has hinted at the possibility of introducing the low-cost Hilux Champ to South Africa, but not in the immediate future and not under the moniker it debuted with in Thailand last year.
Timeline of events
Shown as the IMV 0 Concept two years ago in celebration of Toyota’s 60th anniversary in Thailand, the Champ eventually became a reality in November last year as a back-to-basics customisable workhorse lacking not only four-wheel-drive, but a number of features in order to keep costs down.
Its name confirmed in early November last year after having bowed in near production form as the Rangga at the Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show three months before, the Champ, as per its concept sibling’s name, rides on the IMV platform underpinning the current Hilux and Fortuner with bodystyles in Thailand ranging from a chassis cab to a dropside across eight derivatives.
Available with either a five-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic, three engine options currently exists; a normally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol producing 102kW/183Nm, the stalwart 2.7-litre petrol pumping out 122kW/245Nm and the 2.4 GD-6 turbodiesel rated in 110kW/343Nm when mated to the manual and 110kW/400Nm when combined with the automatic.
Positioned well below the full-size Hilux in Thailand, whose nomenclature includes the Revo suffix, the prospects of the Champ debuting locally came after Toyota South Africa indicated shortly after the IMV 0 Concept’s reveal that is looking into introducing and producing a smaller bakkie at its plant in Prospecton outside Durban for African market, albeit not a half-ton aimed at the departing Nissan NP200.
“It won’t be a half-ton bakkie. We believe it will take the market by storm and are still doing a lot of development around it,” Toyota South Africa Senior Vice-President for Sales and Marketing, Leon Theron, was quoted by IOL Motoring as saying at SOMI last year.
Responding to a follow-up about the Champ, Theron indicated that while a local launch is uncertain, “we are looking at various options, hopefully, to bring it into the country, but I cannot give you 100% confirmation. If it does come, it will be much later”.
Despite confirming that the Champ name won’t be used in the event of approval being granted for South Africa, more than likely to avoid possible protest from Nissan, no further details were divulged, with the same applying to speculation of the Stallion name making a possible return.