Toyota’s played in the hotted-up ute sandpit before, but it didn’t go particularly well. So we've come up with a new idea for a Toyota TRD Hilux (or even a GR Hilux, as it'd now be called).
This Sweet Dream was first published in the August 2016 issue of MOTOR Magazine.
Its first stab at a TRD-badged Hilux was back in 2008, when it jammed a 225kW/453Nm 4.0-litre supercharged V6 in the front, bunged in a set of tweaked Bilstein dampers underneath, stuck a few stickers on the side and charged $64,990 for the pleasure.
Now, choosing the previous TRD Hilux for its performance credentials was about as sensible as, say, choosing Trump as a presidential candidate, but what might surprise you is that in recent years the Hilux has been honing its motorsport chops.
Each year numerous V8-powered Hiluxes line up to tackle the gruelling Dakar endurance rally, with Fernando Alonso set to have a steer in 2020. These brutal sounding trucks are powered by a re-tuned version of the Lexus RC F’s 5.0-litre V8, producing around 285kW/600Nm.
Full-size utes are exploding in popularity in Australia, with punters proving they are willing to drop big money on their trucks. The Porsche-powered Volkswagen Amarok V6 is the best-selling variant in the Amarok line-up, while Ford Ranger Raptor is, despite a relatively paltry 2.0-litre turbo four under the bonnet, setting new standards for chassis tuning for a street-bound ute.
Combine that with Australia’s traditional love of performance utes and the demise of our own V8 hay haulers and you have a golden sales opportunity.
Here's how we'd do it
1. EIGHT IS GREAT
It’ll surprise no one to learn there’s a dirty great V8 lurking under the bonnet of the TRD Hilux.
It’s not the 5.0-litre Lexus unit like the Dakar racers use, that would be much too costly. But the US Toyota Tundra offers a 284kW/543Nm 5.7-litre V8, linked to a six-speed automatic, which will fulfil our needs nicely.
2. TUNE IT UP
With a 2150kg kerb weight, the TRD Hilux won’t be a rocketship, but it’ll make an awesome noise and those craving extra speed can always turn to any number of aftermarket tuners to supercharge their new toy, just as Tundra enthusiasts in the US have done.
3. GO AHEAD, JUMP
If you’re going to build a high-performance off-road ute, Fox Racing, the company that supplies the shocks for Ford’s Raptor, are the people to turn to. If it can survive 120km/h jumps through the desert, you’re sure not going to break it on the daily commute.
4. GUARD FILLERS
Wheels are 17 inches all 'round, with 35-inch BF Goodrich All Terrains providing grip in the slippery stuff, though they’ll struggle on-road.
The larger wheels will allow fitment of larger brake discs and calipers, which will be required to pull this beast up from unfamiliar speeds.
5. PUSHING UP
The benchmark really is the Raptor, which sells for $75,990. That, and the number of punters putting up $60K-plus for top-spec Rangers and Amaroks (before aftermarket gear) makes us confident Toyota would find plenty of buyers at $75,000.