Toyota Land Cruiser 300 perfect evolution for ‘Master of Africa’
Petrol and diesels options plus appealing styling means new version is more in demand than the outgoing 200 series.
Range-topping Land Cruiser 300 ZX
Range-topping Land Cruiser 300 ZX
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The hype around the arrival of the Toyota Land Cruiser 300 after a 14 year wait can be compared to the euphoria Springbok fans experience when a World Cup title comes along every 12 years. Both are pretty damn special.
Having been around since 1951, the “Master of Africa” has earned a reputation that precedes itself. First there was a frenzy for the run out of the 200 models by buyers believing they will never get the chance to own a V8 again and now Toyota is flooded with orders for the 300.
Aside from its legacy and the hype, there is a good reason the latest version of Toyota’s flagship SUV is in such great demand. Appealing styling, new engine options, suspension enhancements, safety upgrades and a modernised cabin make the 300 every bit as good as you hoped it would be. And then some.
The Land Cruiser 300 is a new design from the ground up, riding on the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform that also underpins the Prius, Yaris and RAV4. In the case of the 300, the TNGA-F is the first ladder-frame version of the TNGA which has enabled a 200 kg weight reduction over the LC200.
Toyota has stuck to the previous grading system whereby the base model is now badged the GX-R and luxury version the ZX. In addition, a Gazoo Racing performance off-road model called the GR Sport (GR-S) with bespoke styling debuts on the Land Cruiser.
The desperation to cling onto the 200’s 4.5-litre V8 turbodiesel 195kW/650Nm engine should fade when buyers experience the two new six-cylinder engines; a 3.5-litre badged 3.4-litre twin-turbo petrol option and 3.3-litre V6 turbodiesel. The petrol produces 305kW/650Nm with 225kW/700Nm on offer from the oil-burner. Both are paired to ten-speed automatic transmission.
The GX-R trim level is only available in diesel, while both the ZX and GR-S grading offer a choice of either petrol or diesel.
In terms of styling, the angular design of the Land Cruiser 300 pays homage to the Land Cruiser 80 from the 1980s. A prominent grille flanked by rectangular headlights gives the vehicle a seriously imposing presence while keeping the signature Land Cruiser channel down the middle of the bonnet.
The ZX’s exterior features unique 20-inch alloy wheels and chrome detailing, with the GR-S getting bespoke exterior styling which includes 18-inch alloy wheels with higher profile rubber ready to hit the dirt.
Speaking of dirt, the All-wheel Drive Integrated Management (AIM) on the ZX and GR-S uses the 300’s key dynamics to create the right setup for any terrain. This feature adapts the engine and transmission, brake control, steering and drive force via Multi-Terrain Select (MTS).
While this system allows the manual selection of deep snow, mud, sand and dirt in hi-range and rock, mud and sand in low-range, it features an auto mode for the first time on H4 and L4. In auto mode feedback from the Land Cruiser’s terrain logic sensors and cameras determine which mode to use.
The top two trim levels is also equipped with the new 3D Multi Terrain Monitor which uses four cameras to display obstacles around the vehicle and ‘’through” the bonnet. Both gradings also come with Turn Assist Function which brakes in the inside rear wheels to help manoeuvre tight turns on loose surfaces.
The GR-S has a further ace up its sleeve with the Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (e-KDSS). This feature automatically frees or locks front and rear stabilisers for either increased suspension movements on uneven surfaces or reduced roll on even surfaces.
Climate control with rear zone, power driver-seat adjustment and multi-information display is standard across the range, while the top two trims also have 12.3-inch infotainment screen with DVD playback, a 14-speaker JBL sound system, seat heating and ventilation for first-and second-row passengers and heated steering wheel with wood accents.
The ZX takes things up a notch with Wi-Fi enabled screen on the back of the first-row seats with wireless headphones. The Land Cruiser 300 isn’t only as big as a house, but as safe as one too with both the ZX and GR-S equipped with the full Toyota Safety Sense suite.
The Land Cruiser 300’s full repertoire was on display during a scenic media trip around the Western and Northern Cape last week.
A combination of pristine tarred roads, sandy trails around Paternoster, long winding gravel tracks along the Swartland’s wheat fields and rocky paths in the Cederberg provided the perfect showcase to display its efficiency on all surfaces.
While the diesel mill is already a serious upgrade from its predecessor, the petrol powerplant raises the stakes altogether.
It has a super smooth power delivery from low rpms for effortless off-roading, while boasting impressive acceleration for a comfortable cruise ship tipping the scales at just over 2.5 tons. Enthusiastic driving saw the petrol mill’s fuel economy around the 15 L/100 km mark, with the diesel settling around the 12 L/100 km mark.
Toyota has again managed to stick to the core principles of a tried and tested recipe, with the modernisations ensuring the Land Cruiser 300 it should stay relevant for at least a decade. Around the time the Boks are due for another World Cup.
Land Cruiser 300 3.3D GX-R – R1 283 200
Land Cruiser 300 3.3D ZX – R1 765 500
Land Cruiser 300 3.3D GR-S – R1 811 900
Land Cruiser 300 3.5T ZX – R1 797 100
Land Cruiser 300 3.5T GR-S – R1 842 900
All models are sold with a nine service/90 000 km service plan and a three year/100 000 km warranty.
For more information on the Toyota Land Cruiser 300, click here.
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