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Picking a fight

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The Toyota Hilux GR-S now gets a rapturous amount of power

WE NEED to talk about the pickup.

While the local market isn’t as crazy about the segment as, say, our Thai neighbors (which puts these vehicles to work in agriculture and a myriad of other fields), we truly have our fair share of pickup enthusiasts — ranging from entrepreneurs who need a spacious cargo bed, flood-averse motorists who want increased confidence, and people who simply love its values.

Last weekend, as the second round of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Vios Cup rumbled on at the Clark International Speedway, an Emotional Red-hued Hilux welcomed everyone at the entrance of the venue. Surely, one needn’t have been eagle-eyed to realize that this was, in fact, a new iteration of Toyota’s iconic pickup model. Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. (TMP) took the opportunity to put on display the newest version of the Hilux GR-S, which now takes its place on top of the pickup totem pole in the portfolio.

Yes, there was a previous GR-S model of the Hilux, and yes, this is a newest version of that. That GR-S suffix, which means Gazoo Racing Sport, denotes more aggressive design intentions and, certainly in the case of this Hilux, enhanced performance.

The first thing you need to know is that this Toyota Hilux GR-S is a “global” version, unlike the ASEAN-spec variant it supplants. “It’s about having a common global design,” said TMP Vice-President for Product Planning Nico Bravante to “Velocity” in an exclusive interview.

“We wanted to highlight the Gazoo Racing, pure-performance capability of the Hilux, and we wanted to improve on the points lacking in the previous version. The upgrades are not merely aesthetic but include performance improvements,” he continued.

Still, there are a lot of changes in the looks department. For starters, this Hilux sports a wider (by 120mm) gait — with its large all-terrain tires strapped onto 17-inch GR-design wheels accentuated by mean-looking matte-black GR-S overfenders. Meanwhile, a smart-looking GR Aero sports bar is ready to accommodate a bed cover, should the owner decide to get one affixed.

While boasting the familiar 2.8-liter, four-cylinder, 16-valve, diesel-sipping mill, the new Hilux GR-S ECU has been tweaked to submit 224ps (versus the original 204ps) and the same 550Nm (with a 1,600-to-2,800rpm torque curve). Toyota affixes GR front and rear disc brakes with GR brake calipers and monotube shock absorbers for improved on- and off-road performance.

Inside the cabin, Toyota wraps the vehicle’s seats in GR-S suede and leather — with tasty GR emblems on the steering wheel and headrests. Red seatbelts are a nice, consistent touch. A nine-inch screen with Display Audio gets wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A wireless charger comes as standard; same with a smart entry and push start system.

For safety, the Hilux GR-S comes with a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert — not to mention a suite of Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) niceties and a panoramic view monitor, anti-lock brakes, vehicle stability control, hill-start assist control, and downhill assist control.

Here’s the pricing of the new Hilux GR-S:

For more information, visit toyota.com.ph/hilux or contact any Toyota dealership nationwide; follow Toyota Motor Philippines on Facebook and Instagram, ToyotaMotorPH on Twitter, and Toyota PH on Viber to get the latest updates.

Also, Toyota is quietly refreshing the entire Hilux lineup, and we’ll fill you in as soon as we get the details.

Lastly, the 224ps we earlier mentioned now makes the Hilux GR-S the most powerful pickup in the segment — surely an important distinction for Toyota to hold as it takes on its rivals. — Kap Maceda Aguila