Toyota dismisses GR Hilux and electric versions

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Toyota Hilux GR Sport 2022 1

Toyota’s new flagship Hilux GR Sport isn’t about to be superseded by a high-performance variant, says Toyota boss.

The recently revealed Toyota Hilux GR Sport will remain the top-spec model for Toyota’s ute range, bosses have confirmed. While Ford is forging ahead with the introduction of a new V6-petrol-powered Ranger Raptor, Toyota won’t be following its rival into the performance ute market with a GR Hilux.

Speaking at the 2022 CV Show, Toyota Light Commercial Vehicles manager Garth Matthews said that the GR Sport was the best solution as a flagship in the Toyota Hilux’s range. The GR Sport has launched in Europe, but not Australia, however, and Matthews addressed only that market’s desires. Toyota Australia remains tight-lipped on any sort of GR Sport-inspired model locally, let alone a V6 performance ute to rival the Ford Ranger Raptor.

Toyota Hilux GR Sport 2022 3

“UK customers aren’t complaining that the 2.8-litre diesel is underpowered, so there isn’t a good enough case for us to look beyond that for a performance version,” Matthews said.

“The GR Sport has the looks that customers want while still having the right payload weight, so we’re meeting the demands of performance fans there.”

The other reason that a Toyota GR Hilux is unlikely to materialise is because the Toyota ute isn’t sold in North America. While the Ranger Raptor will be sold in countries such as Australia, South Africa, the US and even in Europe, Toyota has only the larger Tacoma and Tundra models in North America – which are available in high-performance Toyota Racing Development (TRD) guises.

On the subject of future powertrains for the Hilux, Matthews wouldn’t be drawn. “It’s difficult to move away from diesel, because of the payload weights and towing capacity that’s needed for a pickup,” he said.

“For us, full electric doesn’t meet that requirement yet, while heavier vehicles are turning more towards fuel cell technology, which could be a better alternative.”

Toyota Hilux GR Sport

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The 2022 CV Show saw the launch of the new Hilux GR Sport, where it joined Toyota’s expanded Professional commercial vehicle line-up, including the Proace and Proace City vans, Land Cruiser Commercial and newly-launched Corolla Commercial wagon-based van.

Inspired by the Japanese firm’s Gazoo Racing division, which helped develop the GR Yaris hot hatch and GR Supra sports car, the Hilux GR Sport has been “designed to capture the attention of customers whose active lifestyles go well beyond the everyday, giving them an ideal vehicle for adventurous journeys and sporting pursuits”, according to Toyota.

As a result the brand’s engineers have modified the ute’s suspension, and are claiming a more rewarding driving experience with increased control, responsiveness and grip. These tweaks include new, stiffer front coil springs that are damped by new red-painted monotube dampers. This monotube tech results in a larger piston area inside the damper body, meaning the suspension offers faster responses, better heat dissipation and improved performance.

Toyota Hilux GR Sport 2022 4

This should result in a more comfortable and controlled ride for occupants, while Toyota also claims that the truck’s handling and steering response has been improved significantly. The suspension adjustments to the GR Sport model combine with the changes applied to the updated Hilux, which include retuned rear leaf springs and new bushes.

Hilux GR Sport models are distinguished from the rest of the line-up by a new black mesh grille that features a central horizontal bar bearing the Toyota name. Larger fog light surrounds also feature, along with machined 17-inch alloy wheels with a black finish wrapped in all-terrain tyres. Black detailing extends to the door mirrors, side steps, wheel arch extensions and tailgate handle, while subtle GR Sport badging also features.

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Inside, the Hilux GR Sport boasts sports seats trimmed in a mix of black leather and synthetic suede with red contrast stitching, while GR badges on the starter button, seat backs and carpet mats all feature, as well as carbon fibre-style trim inserts and a red stripe in the dash. The Hilux also gets aluminium sports paddles and paddle shifters to take manual control of the automatic transmission.

The Hilux GR Sport is powered by a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine producing 150kW and 500Nm of torque and sends its output to all four wheels through a six-seed auto transmission.

Available only as a double cab model, the Hilux GR Sport offers a payload capacity of 1000kg and can tow a 3500kg trailer.

Dean Gibson

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