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By Mark Jones

Road Test Editor

Isuzu D-Max AT35 pips Toyota Hilux GR-S in bigfoot bakkie battle

Widebody and extra drag result in a slower sprint time for attractive double cab.

Toyota as a global company have always played by their own conservative rules. The Japanese carmaker has never been forced into rushing new cars and tech to the market and then having to backtrack. In South Africa, this cannot be more obvious than with the Toyota Hilux.

The latest generation Ford Ranger and VW Amarok bakkies offer the freshest tech and powertrains. And the Nissan Navara and Isuzu D-Max can also bring whatever they have to the party. It does not stop the dated Hilux being the best selling bakkie month after month, year after year.

Enter Toyota Hilux GR-S III

This brings me to The Citizen Motoring‘s road test of the recently-launched Toyota Hilux GR Sport (GR-S) III. Just like the Isuzu D-Max AT35, take one look at the Toyota Hilux GR-S III and you can see why they can be considered rivals to the Ford Ranger Raptor.

Flared wheel arches and aggressive styling cues not only make this bakkie look mean. They make it physically wider and longer in the front and the rear. It is just as imposing.

The Toyota Hilux GR-S III also features an optimised front and rear suspension, bigger 17-inch front brake discs and new 15-inch rear discs, and an increased ride height that offers an improved approach angle for those that will always test the “go anywhere” off-road capabilities of their bakkie.

ALSO READ: Hilux GR-S leads exciting band of bakkies heading for SA

Toyota not taking the bait

Almost every comparative box gets ticked. But the Blue Oval has a 292kW/583Nm fire-breathing Ford Ranger Raptor with all the latest tech in the world loaded in the cabin. We can jump up and down all we want calling for a direct competitor from Toyota with something like their 305kW/650Nm 3.5-litre twin turbo V6 from the LC300. But Toyota are quite happy to offer a slightly tweaked 165kW/550Nm version of its 2.8-litre GD-6 for the Hilux GR-S III.

Toyota Hilux GR-S III cabin
The cabin of the Hilux GR-S III. Picture: Mark Jones

And this is why any sensible person will understand why this bakkie and the 140kW/440Nm Isuzu D-Max Arctic AT35 are not genuine high-performance rivals for the Ford Ranger Raptor when it comes going fast on and off-road. This Toyota Hilux GR-S III drives pretty much like you would expect from an older generation diesel bakkie to be blunt. And the numbers offered up were exactly where I thought they would be for a bakkie that runs on chunky all-terrain tyres, while also being slightly heavier and wider than before.

ALSO READ: WATCH: New Toyota Hilux GR-S shows off its rugged footwear

Toyota Hilux GR-S gets slower

Of course, the Ford Ranger Raptor kills them all with a time of 6.90 seconds to 100 km/h. But then it becomes the more realistic battle of the diesels with the older Hilux GR-S II next at 10.32 seconds, the Isuzu D-Max AT35 at 10.91 seconds and the newcomer Toyota Hilux GR-S III a fraction behind them at 10.94 seconds.

ALSO READ: Toyota Hilux GR-S III to lose ground on Ranger, Amarok and D-Max

That widebody and extra drag will do this to the figures. But for those seeking some sort of revenge, I can tell you I didn’t even bother testing the previous generation diesel Ford Raptor Ranger because it was so slow.

Jokes aside, I know people take ownership and prowess of Toyota or Ford bakkies very seriously. The Toyota Hilux GR-S III is not a Ford Ranger Raptor rival, but it is still a very good option. Especially if you are a Toyota man, but my wish would be for some extra horsepower and not having to plug my cell phone in with a cable to charge.

The scoreboard

Toyota Hilux GR-S test data

Read more on these topics

bakkie D-Max Ford Ranger Isuzu Road Tests Toyota Hilux

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