The meeting of Hilux and Tonka. It’s a fantasy of many South African Toyota double-cab owners and hatefully, the Australians are ahead of us in making it happen.
Revealed this week, Down Under, it’s everything that an imaginative child, in charge of Toyota Hilux product planning, would do.
The Hilux Tonka Concept is pretty self-explanatory in its naming convention and was built to celebrate seven decades of the world’s chunkiest toy cars.
Keeping buyers interested
With the double-cab bakkie market as buoyant in Australia as it is locally, brands are desperate to keep buyers loyal, and interested. Toyota’s marketing impetus with this Tonka concept is to show the brand’s ‘fun side’, but be in no doubt: there is an entirely serious strategy behind it.
As double-cab bakkie prices edge ever upward, now encroaching on what was once luxury SUV territory, brands such as Toyota are desperate to provide OEM tuning and accessory options for those double-cab buyers who can’t help but spend on their bakkies.
Toyota’s Tonka concept is absolutely delightful in appearance: beefier front bumper, carbon-fibre bonnet skin incorporating a ‘power dome’ and mini-Monster truck 35-inch tyres, which all combine to style it with the true Tonka toy aesthetic.
The tailgate’s covered in composite skin cladding, featuring an aft spoiler and venting, with removeable stowage boxes, shovel, high-lift jack, fire extinguisher (got to have one of those) and additional diesel jerry cans, all mounted on a retrievable frame.
'Kalahari Ferrari styling'
And what would an OTT Toy concept be without additional LED illumination on the roof and bull bar? Quite. It’s why this Hilux has those.
Beyond the Kalahari Ferrari styling bits, there are fundamental engineering upgrades to enable the greatest possible terrain-survivability for Hilux Tonka.
Tubular slider rails protect the sills, whilst an enormous 150mm ride height elevation might play havoc with high-speed directional stability, but does gift it notable obstacle clearance. Snag point ground clearance is an amazing 429mm, and Toyota’s achieved that by imitation Unimog portal axles, complete with hub-mounted reduction ratios from Marks.
READ: Bakkie review - A year with Toyota's Hilux double-cab
Other technical details which distinguish it from a conventional Hilux 4x4 are its rear disc-brakes, which enable the presence of an on-board electric parking brake, instead of the conventional hand-operated, cable-linked, push-and-pull girdle system.
And to ensure that stock 130kW/450Nm 2.8 turbodiesel isn’t punctured traversing grade 5 rock gardens, there’s a 6mm alloy bash plate underneath. With kerb weight up 325kg on a standard 2.8 double-cab, expect slightly lethargic on-road performance.
Credit given where it is due, and Toyota Australia has done a terrific execution of this Toy, well, Toy. It might be a touring promotional vehicle for now, but expect perhaps one - or a few - of those accessories shown, to possibly become OEM options in future.