Toyota Australia wants a replacement for the TRD HiLux and reckons the new generation chassis can handle more grunt.
Tradies with a performance bent apparently loved the 225kW supercharged V6 model that was developed locally by the Toyota Racing Division (TRD) and launched in 2008.
The hi-po ute was a rough-and-tumble example of more engine than chassis, but in some ways it was ahead of its time.
With the 2016 HiLux – the first fresh generation of the top selling ute in a decade – the company has in development prioritised a huge increase in body rigidity, steering response and chassis refinement.
Car-like behaviour is what new ute customers apparently want, and that plays into the hands of those wanting a sportier ute offering.
At the same time, the ute market is enjoying a boom at the upper end of the pricing realm – meaning $50K-plus, right where the old TRD HiLux was positioned.
“It’s one of those things that has grown dramatically and continues to do so,” says Toyota Australia executive director marketing and sales Tony Cramb of the expansion in popularity of pricier utes.
“That’s exactly where we’ll be going with [new HiLux] and that’s not only the growth in our sales, that’s also the growth in the market.”
So will there be a performance HiLux replacement?
“There’s always calls for that actually, there appears to be a latent demand for something like that,” tells Cramb
“It’s calls from the market, from the customers who talk about such a thing. I think the HiLux TRD was really well accepted actually and so we understand there’s a demand there for small volume of a variant like that.”
Toyota Australia has been pushing those messages to Japan, and says if a performance version were to become available it would “absolutely without question” import it to this country.
Even though the brand reckons the new chassis is right up to the task of handling more power than the 4.0-litre petrol V6 and new 450Nm turbo-diesel four-cylinder range toppers deliver, Cramb cautions that there is no performance variant on the cards yet.
“We’re constantly talking to TMC about different model lineups but it all becomes a question of engineering resources and how to apply it,” he adds.
When the Commodore and Falcon performance utes go the way of the dodo inside three years, there could be an opportunity for Toyota there. Would you be interested in a TRD HiLux replacement?
Click here to read the full range review of the Toyota Hilux
Get your free weekly report from the world of fast cars - subscribe to the MOTOR newsletter!