The all-new Toyota Fortuner launches in South Africa during the second quarter of 2016. Thus its full local range and specifications would only be released towards launch date. But from the pictures released the car is going to attract divided opinions from those who simply just love the new design, those put off by the new design but liked the old design, and, well, by those who never liked the car since its first debut in 2005.
Nevertheless, Toyota executives are apparently happy with the end result. “I like the analogy used by the Fortuner’s Executive Chief Engineer, Hiroki Nakajima, in which he compares the new Fortuner to a well-made suit. The style and quality are clearly apparent on the outside, and this assures you of the fine quality and detail of the lining on the inside, even although you may not be able to see it. In other words, there’s nowhere I can’t go and nothing I can’t do with my Fortuner, but I’m sure going to do it in style,” says Calvyn Hamman, the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Toyota South Africa Motors.
According to Hamman the brief for the new Fortuner design was simple: “Design a Fortuner than can compete in terms of style and aesthetics while staying true to its authentic SUV characteristics and genuine 4WD performance.”
Toyota spin doctors says with the new Fortune, Toyota’s designers have created “a new solid fluidity design language which expresses toughness and wideness through the high body axis, the bulging wheel arch flares as well as the chunky trapezoidal front bumper.”
The statement from Toyota public relations team goes on to speak of “sophistication and refinement on the other hand is reflected in the detailing – slender headlight clusters that are scalpeled into the front fenders, the slanted chromed grille with plating extending around the headlamps, the three lines that score the sculpted roof line and flanks as well as the sleek rear combination lamps and license plate garnish that blend with the complex surfaces of the rear body….”
Let us rather talk about the interior. Features in the new Fortuner would include a tablet-inspired multi-media, touch-screen display that allows easy operation of functions, a Smart Entry & Start system, an electronic 4WD switch and second-row seats with one-touch operation for ease of folding. The third row seats are equipped with a fixed hook attachment for simple and convenient stowage. Oh, and there are no fewer than 15 storage areas in the new Fortuner.
On the ride and handling front, an all-new frame bolstered by cross members, side rails and suspension towers that have all been strengthened, enhancing the torsional and bending rigidity of the frame. This not only improves durability, but also drive quality and safety. The suspension uses a double wishbone at the front and a four-link suspension at the rear combination that has been redesigned for optimised comfort. An additional rear stabiliser has been installed to aid on-the-road smoothness and stability.
Newly developed 2.4- and 2.8-litre diesels are highlights of the new Fortuner engine range, supplementing the petrol variants (details to be disclosed closer to launch). Low-speed torque has been greatly improved. In addition to achieving higher power at all engine speeds, the new units boast improved fuel efficiency and cruising range as well as reduced engine noise.
Propping up these efficient powerplants are the newly developed six-speed automatic transmissions with more steps and optimised gear ratios to maximise engine performance. As with new Hilux, stick-shift Fortuners are equipped with the Intelligent Manual Transmission system (i-MT) supporting smooth shifting with rev matching technology.
Fortuner is the SUV derivative of Hilux that began life in 1998 with the introduction of the Hilux Sport Rider which was built in Thailand and initially sold only in selected Southeast Asian countries. In 2005, however, this model went global, started distancing itself stylistically from its Hilux stablemate and became known as Fortuner, earning admiration around the world for its impressive quality, durability, reliability and off-road ability.