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Juliet McGuire

First drive in the new Toyota Rush

A few weeks back I got in an invite from Toyota with the hashtag, #LivingTheRushLife, on it. That is it. Of course I rsvp’d yes because not only are the Toyota team here in SA some of my favourite people on earth (how huge is that statement?!), but also because I hadn’t a cooking clue what car was launching and I was intrigued. The word “rush” in the middle of the hashtag should have given it away, but I have my days people. Also, I hadn’t a cooking clue what a Rush was anyway. Now I do! It is Toyota’s newest and most affordable compact SUV on offer.

With Toyota providing a car for every type of person with any type of lifestyle, it is no wonder it opted to add this cheeky little guy to its line-up. This country, and the world, love an SUV, but few of us can actually afford one. As Toyota states in its press release, the acronym SUV has come to refer to any vehicle that fulfills a cross-functional role, possesses an elevated driving position, increased ride height and sufficient cargo space. Well, these are all the things that the new Rush offers. It’s all about versatility and space.

Toyota Rush

Another confession moment here, I thought it was a 7-seater and only after I had driven it on the first route did I notice it was, in fact, a 5-seater. Like I said, I have my moments. And in fairness to me, there is a 7-seater available in India, we just have a market that prefers a five-seat setup with a bigger boot. But now that I knew exactly what it is I was driving, I was better equipped to understand it.

The cabin won’t exactly blow you away, but this is an affordable SUV, remember. What did give me a chuckle was the fake leather complete with fake stitching on the dashboard. Kitsch AF. But still, it did put smile on my face, even if for the wrong reasons. The features list is extensive and includes a 6-speaker touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto, CarPlay and a built-in Satellite Navigation system, an integrated reverse camera and park distance control. Keyless entry and start is also standard. As is a host of safety features which includes ABS, hill assist control, vehicle stability control, six airbags as well as an alarm and immobiliser and auto door lock function.

Toyota Rush

There is only one engine of offer in the form of a 1.5-litre four cylinder petrol engine producing 77 kW and 136 N.m of torque. You can choose between a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. I drove the five-speed manual and hells bells, but this car needs a sixth gear. I wasn’t even doing 115 km/h and the engine was shouting at me around 4 000 rpm. It was frustrating to say the least, but around the city, it has enough power and you will be satisfied with robot-to-robot oomph it showcases. We even took it slightly off-road through Addo National Elephant Park and it handled the various terrain with ease. The 220mm ride height is also helped along the uneven road.

Convenience is key when it comes to an SUV, and apparently, Toyota will not let anyone dehydrate in the new Rush. I counted 11 cupholders! There might be more even. The boot is also massive at 609-litres. Push the rear seats down and you have a massive loading area.

Toyota Rush

This car, although it competes with the Ford Ecosport (a new one arrives later this month), the Hyundai Creta, Renault Captur and Renault Duster to name but a few, it is the badge that will pique customers’ interests. The Toyota badge alone is synonymous with a lot of the things people want in a SUV; reliability, versatility, and dependability. At a price of just R299 900, those needing space, practicality and what goes with the demands of a growing family, will certainly rejoice.

A six-services/90 000 kilometre service plan comes standard, backed up by a three-year/100 000km warranty.

PRICING FOR THE TOYOTA RUSH

Rush 1.5 MT – R299 900
Rush 1.5 AT – R 313 500

Can we have a round of applause for me not making one joke about the word “Rush.”

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