The Hilux Legend has undergone a neat facelift and a power boost. Picture: CHANTELLE OOSTHUIZEN
The Hilux Legend has undergone a neat facelift and a power boost. Picture: CHANTELLE OOSTHUIZEN

Legendary songwriter Jim Steinman penned words along the lines of “If life is just a highway, then the soul is just a car. And objects in the rear-view mirror may appear closer than they are”.

Five friends, five decades in the making for each of us, a fervent need for a flight to freedom, a place to breathe.

At my age, a palpable flush is not abnormal. But our times are. There are three hormonal flushers right behind me, filling my rear-view mirror, and another in my left blind spot. We are all hot.

A manicured finger presses a button and cool air instantly flows to relieve the discomfort. Another simple press of a button and a mighty growl fills the underground parking area at Cape Town International Airport.

The flight from Johannesburg has been surreal. People are bothered, masked, distantly aware of the draining viral noose that monitors our movements. A brief lockdown reprieve provides an opportunity for five 50-something friends to travel to the coast, after nearly a year in waiting.

On arrival in Cape Town, my heart skips a beat, it has been years since I’ve driven a media test vehicle. I eye our muscular Toyota Hilux Legend, and think I’m salivating, but that could be another drop of menopausal perspiration on my upper lip.

Like some of my friends, I immediately notice the Hilux Legend has undergone a neat facelift. Sculptured headlamps are outlined with dark plated inserts that seamlessly flow into an appealing black-outlined bulge of a grille, while smoky 18-inch alloys cement a mature, smouldering look.

Yet, it’s the rear end that gets the girls really cooing. Our Legend RS has a standard accessory package that offers a motorised Roller Shutter with a ribbed and rubberised bed liner that protects the load box, and our baggage crammed with cosmetic nip and tuck creams and other age deterrents.

At the press of a button the shutter rolls back and the assisted tailgate with central-locking function offers seamless entry to the rear where our burgeoning bags are comfortably and safely swallowed.

Cargo loaded, I electrically adjust the elevated leather perforated driver’s seat to begin our road trip to freedom.

First, we agree to set the navigation system on the large new-design infotainment screen, because women have no problem asking for directions. The Legend obliges like a knight in shining armour.

A motorised Roller Shutter with a rubberised bedliner protects the load box. Picture: CHANTELLE OOSHUIZEN
A motorised Roller Shutter with a rubberised bedliner protects the load box. Picture: CHANTELLE OOSHUIZEN

A luxurious and spacious interior offers further comfort as I steer the Legend’s precious cargo to the west coast village of Paternoster.

As the Legend laps up each kilometre towards our destination, a surprisingly smooth drivetrain calms us. The 2.8 turbo diesel engine has been boosted to an easy-cruising 150kW and 500Nm (up from 130kW and 420Nm).

I turn up the premium sound audio system, and we briefly croon along to the melodies pumping out of the JBL speakers.

I am consoled that no amount of women waffle can distract from Toyota’s Safety Sense which now includes a pre-collision warning system and lane departure alert, among its standard active safety features.

Our interlude at the coast is brief but energising.

We drive onto a soft sandy trail near the beach — because we can — to watch the boats bring in live crayfish for export.

We road trip to Port Owen and St Helena Bay. We drive on sandy trails and laugh more mascara as I dig deep to remember my 4x4 training and effortlessly allow the Legend to extricate us from the soft trenches.

A car guard at Vredenburg watches animatedly as we park and five worldly women elegantly disembark the Legend, gleefully press the rear shutter button to grab our handbags and sanitisers, and head to shop.

On our return, he says from behind his mask, with twinkling eyes: “Tannie se lekker ding, nê?”

I’m not sure if he’s referring to the Legend or one of us. “One in a million,” I respond.

As I reverse with the assistance of the large rear camera, I catch sight of Mr Car Guard again. He gives me a high five and shows me a L sign with his fingers. L for “Legend!”

The Hilux is a legend, having enjoyed an illustrious lifespan as SA’s overall top-selling bakkie. Innovative and attractive nips and tucks, a powerful heart and some smooth-sailing performance make maturity a form of finesse.

L is for “Life” too, because life is a highway.

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