Large and in charge: the Toyota Hilux GR-S III

Back in May I attended the launch of the new Toyota Hilux GR-S III, but I was unable to really tell you too much about it then because it was embargoed until last week (which is when this post should have gone live, but I have been busy people!). Anyhoo, now we are here and I am going to give you a brief overview of what this halo model for Hilux entails. You will have to wait for more info when I get it on test and bring it to you via a video. Because, as you know, that’s my jam!

As if the Hilux couldn’t be anymore popular, Toyota goes and produces a model that is inspired by the multiple Dakar Rally-winning heritage that we have all come to know and love. Let me kick this off with the looks of this new generation. It is pretty awesome in the metal. Imposing even. And that is thanks to its now much wider stance. You see, the lateral distance between the wheels has increased at both the front and the rear when compared to the standard Hilux. Which obviously adds to the overall driving experience, but more on that later. That lateral distance has expanded by 140mm at the front and 150mm at the rear. This means this double cab’s overall width has increased to 2 020 mm. The bold black over-fenders accentuate the GR-S IIIs muscular stance as it rides on 17-inch black alloy wheels as well, with red brake callipers of course. It’s all rather dramatic.

Making it stand out from its Hilux siblings, and the crowd at large, is the black mesh front grille which features the Toyota name logo, as well as the black sidestep, mirrors and door handles. GR logos also give it that edge.

On- and off-road capabilities are also purposefully enhanced, thanks to that wider tread and significant improvements in handling characteristics, such as increased vehicle stability through reduced roll angle, and a precise steering response. Being that the Hilux GR-S was, first and foremost, built as an off-road-biased double-cab bakkie, this all makes sense.

It might be all rugged and rebellious on the outside, but the interior is rather sophisticated. It still gives you the sporty elements you might be after. There is a black and monochrome theme which is rather stylish, and then it’s got red bits and bobs here and there. My favourite being the red seatbelts. My goodness they look good.

There are paddle controls and aluminium sport pedals to just accentuate the performance side of things. And for the fancy side of things, you’ve got black suede and leather seats with silver stitching and perforation. The suede isn’t just for looks though, these seats are meant to minimise sliding when you’re experience higher lateral forces.

There is a new hydrographic ornament on the door trim and dashboard, which also features GR details on the information display and instrumentation. It also boasts Toyota’s multimedia system on an eight-inch touchscreen display. It also now comes standard with a JBL sound system with nine speakers.

Engine-wise, nothing has changed, it sports the uprated 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel which produces 165 kW and 550 Nm of torque (the standard 2.8GD-6 engine does 150 kW and 500 Nm). The GR-S III is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. 

We took this new model on an array of different terrain up the Garden Route. Including tar, gravel and even sand dunes. The GR-S did not bat an eyelid. It eats anything up with ease. It is only really driver error that will see you getting stuck. With it being wider, it feels more solid, more planted to the road and off-road. It is clear that it is quite a bit smoother and stable over most terrain you throw at it. The all-terrain tyres are the perfect size, I think 17-inch tyres are the perfect off-roading size. You don’t need bigger.

There is no doubt that Toyota knows exactly what it’s doing when it comes to its off roaders. It’s hard to imagine how any of it can really be improved. Are we going to be doing Everest in a Hilux soon? Who knows. But the new GR-S III is as good as it gets. It adds that extra bit of flair and drama to what is already a capable and reliable vehicle.


The Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 DC 4×4 GR Sport III is competitively priced at R999 000. It also comes standard with 9-services/100 000km service plan (with intervals of 10 000 km) and a 3-year/100 000km warranty.

I’m Julz, South African motoring journalist with a passion for cars and a questionable sense of humour. I am not your average motoring journalist, and this is not your average motoring website.

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