Toyota Hilux GR Sport review
The Ultimate Hilux
It may be a bit of a mouthful, the Toyota Hilux Gazoo Racing Sport, but it is also a whole lot of bakkie. In fact, the GR-S, as it is more commonly referred to, has to be the ultimate bakkie available on the South African market.
Unlike most competitors, the GR Sport isn’t just a ‘sticker’ limited edition, where stickers promise much but deliver little. No, the GR Sport has been given significant mechanical upgrades in the form of race-tuned suspension, formulated by Gazoo racing. For those of you who aren’t aware, Gazoo Racing is Toyota’s motorsport division, responsible for the vehicles that participate in events such as the Dakar Rally, Le Mans, NASCAR, the WRC and more. Just 600 Toyota Hilux Gazoo Racing Sports have been made, and that is the end of it – no more will be made.
Up front the shocks are now a monotube design with revised damping, working in conjunction with increased front spring rates to offer a sportier ride without sacrificing ride comfort. The rear leaf spring rates have been left unaltered to maintain the existing payload – the GR-S can still deliver when the job demands it.
Apparently the development brief hinged on offering greater off-road handling and steering, enhanced off-road body control and sharper on-road steering feel. Even a short drive on a gravel road shows that this brief has been met, while around town the GR-S does feel more engaging to drive, with sharper handling.
The GR Sport retains the standard 2.8-litre GD-6 turbodiesel engine from the extended Hilux range, which is why the GR-S is so competitively priced. Yes, Toyota could have tuned the engine for more power, but the 130kW and 450Nm of the standard engine is more than adequate for every occasion and more tuning would have meant an unnecessary price jump.
The more observant of you will have noticed that the GR-S has smaller rims than the Legend 50 (17-inch as opposed to 18-inch), which bucks the trend of ‘sportier’ models getting bigger rims and lower-profile tyres. I think this is a delightfully practical move by Toyota because 17-inch rims have allowed higher-profile tyres to be fitted (265-65-R17), which are more resistant to damage and usually cheaper and easier to replace. The rims themselves are unique to the GR-S model.
The GR-S uses the new Hilux interior, as seen on the Legend 50, but with red accents to reinforce its sporting credentials. The black leather interior, features red contrast stitching and GR logos embroidered on the headrests and carpets. A GR-branded push start button awakes the engine. Each Hilux GR Sport includes a branded production plate and serial number to confirm its pedigree. The dashboard and door trim panels are finished in Piano Black treatment, with a vibrant red accent line running across the fascia to finish off the theme.
The GR-S is available in three colours: Glacier White, Arizona Red or Attitude Black – matching that of the Gazoo Racing livery. Gazoo Racing branding and the red/white/black decals set the GR-S apart from the standard Hilux range, as does a bigger, honeycomb grille with Dakar-inspired ‘Toyota’ lettering.
Sitting as it does at the pointy end of the Hilux range, the GR Sport costs R714 500, but remember that this is a limited-edition model and will probably be in demand for years to come, meaning even better resale value than the normal Toyota fare. It is covered by a 9-service/90 000km service plan and 3-year/100 000km warranty.
Great engine and gearbox
Race-tuned suspension for gravel road driving pleasure
The ultimate bakkie
Looks the part