Toyota Hilux 2.8GD-6 Legend 50 DC 4x2

Splendid run reminds why Hilux is the best

It's difficult being a champion. I’d forgotten that — how people actually despise you for it and try steal or spoil the glory — no matter what, you're a cheat, people run you down and rivals bitch like babies at every opportunity. That’s one of the things about winning that you easily forget —  you tend to rather remember the positives. So it must be a bitch to be Toyota and the Hilux — South Africa’s champion new vehicle for how long now?

Being reminded of that has prompted my to try better celebrate real success — I too am guilty of occasionally resenting it if it does not suit my means, it’s a human thing — I must do better than that. So I was chuffed to have a splendid opportunity to celebrate this champion in style a week or two back. I had to dash to Caledon to pick up some documents early one morning and I happened to have this Hilux 2.8 GD6 Legend 50 4x2 manual in the driveway, which made me happy.

Now the road from my home to Caledon happens to be among the finest stretches of tarmac anywhere in the world — in fact if you have ever been to an international motor show, be that Geneva, Paris, Tokyo or wherever, chances are good that the videos you see of the latest and greatest new cars projected onto hall wall sized screens, are shot on that very stretch of road. They shoot an annoying amount of cars there - I’ve wasted ample time waiting for them to reopen a closed stretch out there after a car ad filming take. I digress…

So, I was in the Hilux and up and over Franschhoek Pass bright and early as the sun peeped over the peaks and as I'm prone to do, I pushed a bit.  I revelled in the bakkie’s surprisingly sorted chassis — especially considering this 4x2 is nimbler, happier when pushed without all that cumbersome 4x4 kit adding mass, stealing power and dumbing down the whole dynamic affair. Over the pass, I found myself loving this one's supple and silent ride.

When I reached the T-junction on the other side, I hooked a right over the dam and then a short left onto the dirt where thrived in thinking I was Giniel of Fernando as I sped along the dirt on that short cut that dodges the Villiersdorp town limits. Back the tar, Hilux continued to thrill on the twisty run toward the N2. 

Before I knew it, I'd collected my papers and was all the way back in the village, where I inconspicuously stopped for a cup of tea and the crossword. Look, white Hiluxes with CJ plates are the staple in this part of the world, but more than one lad stopped to ponder the newest one, GP plates and all — some even realising it was with me to demand their cursory peek.

We've had more than a few Hiluxes on test over the past few months, so what’s different here? Well all those tweaks that arrived as the Dakar six months ago are now all to be had on this 'run of the mill’ Legend 50 — not that you can call a Hilux run of the mill, really. Legend 50 now comes standard with the more rugged new grille and scowl — even more handsome with those twinkling daylight running LEDs, while chunky new black door mouldings ass a surprising extra dollop of class at Legend 50 spec too. 

This one has a fair bit of cow in it and those pews are typically Hilux satisfactory, never mind that it packs a cool blue themed infotainment system, a reverse camera, automatic climate control, cruise control, seven airbags, stability and traction control and Trailer Sway Control among many other trinkets.

We like the latest touchscreen — it’s now so much better that it has its main functions in little buttons poking through the screen symmetrically down each side. Once you become intuitive with what each button does, its just a quick prod to carry out what you need to, rather than stuffing around trying to achieve the impossible on a flat touchscreen even on the N1. Woe betide on a dirt road. Happily we can now tick that one off our snag list — see, Toyota listens to what everyone has to say... 

The good old 2.8GD-6 Global Diesel still does its business to a comforting and friendly big brother burble and it’s pretty much on the double cab diesel 4x2 pace with early-ten second 0-100km/h acceleration and impressive tractability in our tests, with decent economy too. The Legend 50  is smooth and quiet on the road with decent road holding and fine handling qualities, while steering feel is positive, quick and responsive and its off-road credentials are pretty well impeccable. 

Of course I can tell you this bakkie is better than Hilux here and that bakkie can do this better that Hilux there, but this time I will not. As I said. it’s tough being a champion and this Toyota is without any shadow of doubt the undisputed champion of bakkies. Somehow I am sure it’s going to stay that way for one hell of a long time to come too... – Michele Lupini.  

ROAD TESTED: Toyota Hilux 2.8GD-6 Legend 50 DC 4x2
Engine: 130kW 420Nm 2755cc turbodiesel I4 
Drive: 6-speed manual 4x2
Payload:         750kg
Max Towing: 2750kg
0-60km/h: 4.04 sec
0-100km/h: 10.20 sec
0-120km/h: 14.82 sec
400m: 17.1 sec @ 129km/h
80-120km/h: 7.94 sec
VMax: 180km/h 
Fuel: 7.6 l/100km
CO2: 199 g/km
Warranty/Service 3 year 100K/9 service 90Kkm
RATED:    8