Toyota Hilux pick-up review: ‘A work horse, not a fashion pony’ – The Guardian

Price: £25,556
Top speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 12.8 seconds
MPG: 36.2
CO2: 204g/km

If you ask the internet to name the world’s toughest car, you get the same answer every time: the Toyota Hilux. It is utterly unyielding: there are endless tales of the lengths people will go to in trying to destroy it, most famously by Top Gear. In a breathless example of vehicle cruelty, Clarkson and chums took an elderly 1988 model with 200,000 miles on the clock and tried to batter it to death. They dropped it, drowned it, crashed it into a tree and an office, flattened it with a caravan and then hit it with a wrecking ball. All to no avail. The Toyota won.

That legendary sturdiness has seen it driven to both the North and South poles – and all points in between. In the almost 50 years since it was launched in Japan, more than 18m have been sold. It’s easily Europe’s best-selling pick-up and the workhorse of choice for thousands of businesses.

Full capacity: the Hilux’s huge load bay.



Full capacity: the Hilux’s huge load bay.

This is now the eighth generation of the vehicle. Out goes the old 3-litre diesel and in comes a new 2.4-litre 148bhp turbodiesel. It’s smaller and lighter than the old slogger, but it’s stronger, packs more pulling power (up to 3.5 tonnes) and is way more efficient. In this class of truck it’s all about torque, and the Hilux has that in spades. It can tackle a 31 degree slope without hesitation and makes mincemeat of the most fearsome offroad conditions. Its traction control stamps the ground with the immovable authority of a sumo wrestler entering the dojo. It’s vast, it bulges out of the side of parking bays, it intimidates other road users with its sheer size. It drives exactly as you would expect. It judders and shudders, it’s noisy.

The name is a contraction of High and Luxury. They mean high as in tall – not wasted. And as for luxury, it’s opulent only in the way a rubber handle on a steel mallet feels lavish. The original Hilux boasted a separate frame construction with a double wishbone suspension at the front and a leaf spring arrangement at the rear. Half a century later that’s what it still has. The ladder frame chassis has been updated and the leaf spring suspension revised, but it is in many ways unchanged. As they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and the Hilux will never be broke.

Inside story: the comfortable interior of the Hilux with its new touch screen.



Inside story: the comfortable interior of the Hilux with its new touch screen.

Improvements have, of course, been made. The car is so much more sophisticated than it used to be. It’s loaded with safety features, such as a pre-collison and pedestrian detection system. A smart “locking” rear differential improves traction, while the stability control system, for instance, adjusts the brakes and throttle to reduce “trailer sway” in difficult conditions, like cross winds. (Trailer Sway would be a great name for a breakthrough country and western singer.) It’s comfortable and the cab has been softened up, too. Not that long ago you could hose it down, inside and out. Now the wipe-down surfaces have been replaced with fabrics and leathers. It also has an excellent touch screen and multimedia system, Bluetooth, parking sensors and cameras, aircon and cruise control.

This latest model shows how Toyota is being torn in two directions. The Hilux is a bona fide working vehicle – unstinting labour runs in its veins. Across the developing world it’s the go-to truck for hefting everything from animals to rocks. But by turning it into a leisure 4×4, is Toyota turning its back on that core market? Yes, you can take it to the depot during the week and then the spa at the weekend. But how many of us actually need a vehicle that can do that? It’s a phenomenal bit of kit, but only because it is fit for purpose. It’s a work horse, not a fashion pony.

How the world as we know it will change thanks to driverless cars

Intelligent motoring: how will self-driving electronic computer cars change the way we live in cities?



Intelligent motoring: how will self-driving electronic computer cars change the way we live in cities? Photograph: Alamy

The age of driverless cars could see people truly reclaim the streets and deliver safer, cleaner, less congested cities for everyone, new research suggests. The Institute of Mechanical Engineers predicts that the UK could have a completely automated fleet by 2050. As we prepare for a driverless future, the UK’s leading distributor of motoring parts, Euro Car Parts, has revealed how the introduction of autonomous vehicles will affect city landscapes and the environment across the world.

Cities around the world are already gearing up for a self-driving future. Driverless taxis were trialled in Singapore late last year. Later this year will see Volvo launch its DriveMe programme in Gothenburg, Sweden. Meanwhile, in Greenwich, the GATEway project will put self-driving shuttle buses on London’s streets for the first time.

Illustrating the findings through innovative 3D design and video, Euro Car Parts aims to show how the streets will adapt according to the new technology through a new research project eurocarparts.com/driverlesslandscape.

Key findings from the research include the reduction of parking space in cities, wireless communication with traffic signals, emission-free transportation and constant circulating fleets of self-driving cars as public transport services.

With self-driving cars having the ability to travel closer together than cars of today, motorways could be half as wide as they currently are, while roads and parking spaces – which currently make up as much as half the land area of a city – will shrink.

All this free land area could completely change how people use urban space. Multistorey car parks could be transformed into office space or amenities, boosting local businesses. And with parking no longer an issue, businesses could thrive in places where it previously wouldn’t have been possible.

After the introduction of driverless cars, we’ll no longer need road signs or traffic lights, as busy junctions could have super-hubs which communicate wirelessly with all vehicles in their area, with cars reading information from special road markings.

Autonomous vehicles are also likely to be emission free, leading to cleaner air in cities. Paul Baylis, head of communications and PR at Euro Car Parts said: “The introduction of driverless cars across the globe is a huge technological feat for the automotive industry but we also want to show how this new innovation will affect the world around us. From the width of roads to the reduction of parking spaces and cleaner air across cities, this visualisation and research makes some really interesting revelations about how the landscape and environment will adapt to these changes in the automotive industry.”

Email Martin at martin.love@observer.co.uk or follow him on Twitter@MartinLove166

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