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'Baby Fortuner' for SA: Toyota in a Rush to take on compact SUV market

2018-06-19 10:38

Ferdi de Vos

Image: Toyota

Remember the Terios, the compact SUV from Daihatsu available here up until March 2015 when the Japanese brand decided to pull out of South Africa? Well, it is on its way back; only this time in Toyota guise…

The local launch of the new Rush, Toyota’s version of the Daihatsu Terios, is set for early next month – as confirmed by a spokesman from Toyota SA and heralded by recent sightings of the compact SUV on transport trucks, as well as a test unit, apparently on its way to a photo shoot, being spotted at the Lanseria Airport.

This is an interesting development, considering a statement by Imperial Daihatsu back in 2015 that it was “unlikely” that Daihatsu will be made available locally badged as Toyotas. 

The new Rush is set to arrive locally in July 2018.

GALLERY: 2018 Toyota Rush

It also underlines a distinct change in strategy by Toyota South Africa, looking increasingly east towards Southeast Asia for a supply of more affordable products – as verified by the recent launch of the Indonesian built XP150 Yaris, the Avanza, a Toyota product also badged as a Daihatsu (Xenia) and produced in Karawang, Indonesia, and the Etios, sourced from India.

The Indonesian connection is important, as the new Rush appears to share quite a few major components with the Avanza, albeit in a more SUV-like form, and is built in the same factory. Sourcing product from the same plant should help Toyota South Africa in its quest to be more price-competitive.

                                                                      Image: Toyota SA

The compact crossover/SUV with 7-seater practicality has apparently been under consideration for local introduction since the second-generation Rush (and the third generation Terios) was launched in Indonesia late last year.

Both are based on the Daihatsu FT Concept, first shown at the 2015 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show, and the DN Multisix concept car displayed at the same show in 2017. Since then it has already been made available (in both Daihatsu and Toyota guise) in Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei and the United Arab Emirates.

SUV-styling, but only 2WD

The Rush adopts some design cues from bigger SUVs in the Toyota line-up, and while the earlier first-generation model looked like a scaled-down version of the RAV4, the new addition has a definite “mini-Fortuner” look to it, entwined with some Avanza cues.

It is larger than the Avanza at 4 435mm long (Avanza 4 140mm), 1 695mm wide (Avanza 1 660mm), 1 705mm tall (Avanza 1 695mm), and has a 30mm longer wheelbase (2685mm versus the Avanza’s 2655mm).

                                                                         Image: Toyota SA

Interestingly, the Rush (like its Daihatsu counterpart) was offered with four-wheel drive in its previous incarnation, but the latest model, even while mooted as an SUV, will only be available with two-wheel drive. 

Yet, unlike most of its competitors like the Honda BR-V, the Mahindra TUV300, Haval H1 and Suzuki Ertiga which are front-wheel driven, the Rush (like the Avanza) is rear-wheel driven. Also, unlike its predecessor (as Terios owners will know), the spare wheel on the latest Rush has been moved from the tailgate to the undercarriage.

                                                                          Image: Toyota SA

The first-generation Rush was initially only available as a five-seater, but after a facelift in 2008 it gained a long-wheelbase seven-seat version – and the latest model is only available with a long wheelbase.

The new Rush’s front is dictated by a large grille flanked by LED daytime running lamps and a high-set bonnet. The side view has considerable Avanza influence but flared wheel arches and a slightly higher ride height (220mm) gives it a more purposeful and resolute stance.

Well-specced overseas

In normal trim (as specified for Indonesia) the Rush comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, six airbags, ABS, EBD, ESP, hill-start assist, emergency brake signal, an engine start/stop button, 2 DIN 7-inch touchscreen audio system with six speakers and an air-conditioning system with memory function.

In top-line TRD Sportivo trim (this nomenclature will not be used locally) the Rush gains sporty body cladding, unique LED tail lamp clusters, 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, auto climate control air-con (in the auto version), a leather steering wheel, shift knob, dashboard and door trim, a coloured instrument panel and eight-speakers audio system.

                                                                      Image: Toyota SA

All derivatives of the Rush are powered by the same dual VVT-i 1.5-litre 2NR-VE four-cylinder petrol engine as in the Avanza. This mill, paired to either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission, develops 77kW at 6000 rpm and 136 Nm of torque at 4200 rpm. No diesel model is available.

The interior is predominantly black, but there is a sprinkle of beige trim and faux stitching on the dashboard, along with some silver accents. The fascia is classic Toyota, and its strong Avanza connection is reflected by the three-row seating arrangement – the middle row that folds and tumbles and has a 60:40 split, while the third row also has a fold and tumble function with a 50:50 split.

                                                                         Image: Toyota SA

There are 12V outlets for each of the three rows, and as in the Avanza, the blower vents for the rear passengers are located on the ceiling just above the front seats. Specifications for the South African versions may differ from the overseas models but expect a lower-grade version and a flagship derivative (both in manual and auto guise).

No prices are available yet, but using Indonesian prices as a guideline, the Rush will probably be offered here from around R280 000 to R300 000. As a compact family crossover, this newcomer will surely offer more practicality and versatility at a lower price than the C-HR and RAV4, and it could prove even more popular than the evergreen Avanza…

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Read more on:    toyota  |  ferdi de vos  |  south africa  |  new model  |  suv  |  rush

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