Road Tests

Drive Review: New Hilux GR-S is no Raptor rival

I thought GR was for sportscars

That’s because there’s a necessary distinction to be drawn between GR (Gazoo Racing) and GR-Sport (GR-S). On the performance pyramid, Gazoo Racing is the tip, home to the Supra and Yaris, while GR-S is nearer the broader base, conforming to suspension and cosmetic upgrades. For Toyota, the Hilux GR-S is a litmus test to a more radical, outward-thinking bakkie consumer.

I can also put stickers on my Hilux

Many have, but because Gazoo Racing hasn’t infiltrated the aftermarket scene the Hilux GR-S manages to look authentic and unique at the same time. And even if you could find the stickers, you’d need to be obsessively committed to achieve the same outcome comprising black bonnet, black mirrors, new grille, rubberised load bin, roll over bar, smoked lights and those broad-spoked alloys.

Red shock absorbers. Fancy

Attached to the same leaf spring setup, thereby retaining the payload and towing capacity exactly as before. The shocks have moved away from a dual-tube design to a mono-tube design and while that sounds like a step backwards on paper, the revision manifests much in the way of steering accuracy. A fraction lower ground clearance due to the smaller 16-inch wheels (from 17s) inspires handling nous at the expense of ground clearance. Bring on the moose test!

Time to address the Raptor in the room

These two are not rivals. To achieve the R70, 000 price difference – in the Hilux’s favour – it’s lighter on the modifications. Fewer compromises, but fewer naughty smiles at the same time. Still, as a milder intermediate product it plays the right cards more often than not.

Is that a production plaque on the inside?

Six hundred Hilux GR-S models will be sold to get a feel for the market. If that seems rather scant volume for the best-selling nameplate in South Africa, know that only Argentina, South Africa and Sub Sahara got their names onto this list. Other interior trinkets bearing the GR-S logo include the starter button, side sills and headrests. A GR product with no BMW interior bits, yet undeterred by the absence of a technical partnership the touchscreen now has tactile buttons for the volume. Win.

No extra power?

None. The 2.8 turbo diesel with smaller rolling mass performed on launch like a decent opponent for the Raptor’s all bark, no bite pace. Neither is deserving of being called a performance bakkie – that accolade still belongs to the Amarok V6.

Isn’t there a new Legend 50 GD-6 too?

Piggybacking the launch of the Gazoo Racing Sport with many of the premium features, minus the GR-S cosmetics and suspension. This is echoed in the R40,000 saving. Not coincidentally the same price as Ford’s Wildtrak.


This is the first time a Hilux (together with the new Legend 50 4.0) has hurdled the R700 000 price barrier. That could be a bitter swallow when mainstream flagships – not some specialised tune-up  – orbit around R650 000 including Toyota’s accomplished Legend 50 GD-6, and Ford’s silkier 10-speed Ranger Wildtrak, which is easily the newer modern product.  The credentials are legitimate but it’s no gamechanger because the real gamechangers can be had for a little less, or a little more money. Andrew Leopold

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