The Toyota Hilux Dakar Edition is the first to feature a facelift that will debut on other models. Picture: TOYOTA
The Toyota Hilux Dakar Edition is the first to feature a facelift that will debut on other models. Picture: TOYOTA

Toyota has introduced its latest Hilux Dakar edition, a model that, if you look beyond the decals, actually has a lot more to say.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Hilux, which debuted on March 21 1968. Since then more than 18-million have been sold worldwide.

Toyota SA is not making any fuss over the big milestone though, because SA only got the Hilux in 1969, so if you are expecting the imminent arrival of a Legend 50 edition, sorry, but you will have to wait until 2019.

And if you are waiting for the facelift of the Hilux, you will also have to wait a while longer. Or you could buy the Dakar model, because ahead of the facelift being applied across the whole range later in 2018, the Dakar gets the new pseudo Land Cruiser look first.

The interior gets a new instrument cluster and satellite navigation in the infotainment system. Picture: TOYOTA
The interior gets a new instrument cluster and satellite navigation in the infotainment system. Picture: TOYOTA

The facelift includes a more dramatic trapezoidal grille, possibly to give it a more purposeful look to match that of the Ford Ranger. In the Dakar edition, the grille is gloss black with a metallic grey surround and there are now LED head lamps. The honeycomb grille treatment extends into the lower part of the bumper, which has also been revised for the model.

THE HILUX HAS BEEN A BIG PART OF THE SUCCESS OF TOYOTA IN SA SINCE THE DAYS OF THE EARLY MODELS

Inside, the big change is a new instrument cluster with revised gauges and graphics.

The Dakar model gets a graphic in the digital screen that shows an image of the vehicle on starting the bakkie.

It has a black roof lining, metallic black trim accents and black leather. A number of Dakar decals are dotted around the vehicle.

As the Dakar Hilux is based on the Raider, it gets the same engines in the form of a 2.8 GD-6 diesel or a 4.0l petrol.

The model is available in four colours: inferno orange (not the colour of Alicia Reina’s Hilux that burned out on the Dakar in 2018), glacier white, chromium silver and graphite grey.

The Dakar Edition is available in xtra-cab and double-cab versions with pricing ranging from R470,300 to R662,700.

Toyota is not confirming when the facelift will be applied to other models in the range but don’t be surprised to see them arrive in the next few months.

No doubt Toyota SA also has big plans to celebrate its own Hilux anniversary in 2019. The Hilux has been a big part of the success of Toyota in SA since the days of the early models.

The Hilux continues to be the company’s top seller and with it being manufactured in Durban for the local and export markets, also continues to be a model of success for the South African automotive industry.

Globally more than 18-million have been manufactured since the first model rolled off a production line in Japan. In its first few years Toyota sold fewer than 100,000 models each year but then the success story started, reaching a peak when the company sold nearly 750,000 Hiluxes worldwide in 2012.

The Hilux first debuted in Japan in 1968. Picture: TOYOTA
The Hilux first debuted in Japan in 1968. Picture: TOYOTA

The numbers have dropped in recent years, with 521,000 finding new owners in 2017 across the 180 markets where the Hilux is sold.

Asia remains the biggest market for the model and the region that manufactures the highest number, with 310,500 leaving the Thailand factory in 2017 and 24,700 more being produced in Malaysia and the Philippines.

Argentina is the second-largest producer of Hiluxes, building 103,000 in 2017 but the Toyota SA plant in Prospecton, Durban, is not too far behind as the third biggest of the six Hilux plants around the globe, producing 75,500 in 2017.

The success therefore looks set to continue, despite rivals such as the new Nissan Navara, Volkswagen Amarok and Mercedes-Benz X-Class. However, as the automotive world faces its biggest changes since the invention of the motor car, will the Hilux still exist in 50 years and, if so, in what form?

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