The new Toyota Hilux is fast earning a reputation, discovers Gordon Legge
I had the pleasure to use one of the new Toyota Hilux utes for a weekend in Southland recently. Rally Xtreme chairman Laurie Brenssell and I were heading to sunny Invercargill to film the Southland Rally, and our trip had been frustrating as it had taken 27 hours to get to Invercargill from a very wet, foggy Auckland.
To get us around the countryside we had been lent a new Hilux by GDM Motors.
Hitting the highway travelling north out of a very sunny Invercargill, it was obvious that the new Hilux had picked up some much better road manners. For a big 4WD ute with high ground clearance, it was smooth and quiet on the open road. It wasn’t long before the road turned to shingle and the new Hilux seemed just as happy on the loose metal.
As we only a very light load on board, we were surprised just how well the rear stayed in place on the loose metal.
The dash and controls are exactly what they should be – purely functional, easy to find and easy to use. The diesel Hilux had plenty of punch in that critical 80-100kph band, which is just what you need to let you pull out and pass with safety. I have been in diesels where you had to pack a lunch and notify all concerned in writing of your intentions to pass.
After an hour’s drive, we arrived at the first of the Rally’s special stages for the afternoon. I set up the camera while Laurie parked the Hilux.
With the Southland sun warming our backs we waited for the first car to arrive. A good crowd of locals was gathering in anticipation at the same corner. As Laurie and I passed the time chatting about the joys of flying a local asked Laurie, "How’s the sheep shagger?"
Well, I was impressed – good old Laurie, a reputation that has travelled all the way into the Southland hills. But Laurie was gazing off into a paddock in the distance and I was hoping that he was looking at the trees, although I did notice his shiny gleaming new gumboots for the first time.
A loud, "Hey, you two", broke the silence.
So I dropped my voice an octave and gave the enquirer a confident "yes mate".
"You two blokes got out of the sheep shagger didn’t you?"
At this point, with Laurie’s reputation either restored or destroyed (depending on your perspective) our new friend continued.
"The ute, the new ute, christ you’re not from bloody Auckland ah yah? Well what’s it bloody like?"
The clever thing isn’t the new Hilux TV commercial, wonderful that it is. What’s really clever is that a Japanese brand has taken ownership of a piece of New Zealand culture.
You would have been retiring on the proceeds if you had taken a bet on that happening 30 years ago.
For more information see your local Toyota dealer or visit www.toyota.co.nz