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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

WATCH: Hilux GR-S gives Ranger and Isuzu a bloody nose

Despite the revised suspension and uptake in power, the Hilux GR Sport is once again not aimed at the Ford Ranger Raptor.

The Toyota Hilux has been South Africa’s best-selling new vehicle for years and one seldomly bettered. In fact, only three times this year had it been topped, but only as a result of the floods in April that, literally, drowned operations at the marque’s Prospecton plant in Durban for months.

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Despite this though, a total of 29 647 Hilux have been sold this year until the end of November, which, while not a record, comfortably beats those of its rivals, the Isuzu D-Max (15 879) and the now discontinued T6 generation Ford Ranger (15 847).

Hilux get serious

The biggest highlight of the year though has been the return of the Hilux GR Sport (GR-S) after a three year hiatus. But unlike the original that premiered in 2019, as a limited edition alongside the then flagship Legend 50, the latest GR-S won’t be restricted to 600 units.

For the foreseeable future until the all-new Hilux debuts either next year or in 2024, the GR-S remains available, but not as the range topping model.

ALSO READ: Toyota Hilux GR-S jumps gun on new VW Amarok and Ford Ranger

As editor Jaco van der Merwe and colleague Mark Jones have pointed out, the Hilux GR-S is in fact based on the Raider grade that sits below the Legend.

And, while this omits a few specification niceties such as the nine-speaker JBL sound system and the automatic roller shutter the Legend RS comes out with, the upshot is a GR tuned suspension with mono-tube shock absorbers and coil springs, a recalibrated six-speed automatic gearbox, unique GR exterior and interior applique and the biggest headline, more power.

How serious?

The result of customer feedback desiring more spunk than tech, the standard issue 2.8 GD-6 turbodiesel engine has been revised thanks a different ECU mapping to produce 165kW/550 Nm, 15kW/50 Nm more than standard.

A tune unique to South Africa as the Thai, Japanese and European GR Sport models do not have any extra grunt, Toyota claims a top speed of 180 km/h while the unannounced sprint from 0-100 km/h is said to be 0.6 seconds faster.

While performance figures for a bakkie might still sound pointless, for bakkie loving South Africa, they are becoming more important as power and torque figures increase with each new model launched.

Toyota Hilux GR Sport South Africa
Toyota Gazoo Racing decal no longer present on the tailgate and rear wings.

For the next month or so, yours truly will be the custodian of KV 95 KV GP, the depicted Graphite Grey Hilux GR Sport Jones-san already let loose at Gerotek in the run-up to its current residence at the coast.

Unsurprisingly, the results are a considerable improvement of over two seconds from 0-100 km/h when compared to the Legend RS, and therefore the original GR Sport that only omitted the roller shutter, but had the same weight of 2 029 kg.

At the same time, it also takes back the crown of fastest four-cylinder double cab 4×4 automatic bakkie cylinder Mark has ever tested by being just over 0.2 seconds up on the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross.

Toyota Hilux GR Sport South Africa
Interior has been spruced up with red accents, faux carbon fibre inlays, red stitching, black leather and GR badges.

While a small hint of turbo lag prevails, the mid-range pull, without or without the PWR mode engaged, is strong and soundtrack a touch aggressive.

Sporting a ride bordering on rock hard, again not a surprise, the adaptations to the gearbox are prevalent as, once in manual mode, the selected ratio is kept regardless of where the revs go.

Paddle shifters add to the GR-ness and as Mark mentioned after his run, the tranny holding on to the selected gear no matter the amount of revs rates as something not seen in recent memory on a diesel vehicle, never mind a double cab bakkie.

For the long haul

No sooner had it left Gerotek, it was time to hit the road to the and another surprise, consumption.

Using a combination of the default drive mode setting, on-and-off usage of the Adaptive Cruise Control and dual-zone climate control, while keeping to the national limit, the Hilux GR Sport showed an indicated best consumption of 7.2 L/100 km on the 1 062 km trek down to the Eastern Cape.

Hilux GR Sport road test South Africa
GR badge means more this time.

Remarkable in itself considering the kerb mass, the fun stuff is yet to come as the Toyota Hilux GR-S will be heading for the rougher stuff its revised suspension was designed for.

It promises to be an interesting transition from 2022 to 2023 with the sportiest Hilux ever made.

Road Test Data results

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