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ALL NEW TOYOTA FORTUNER: BIG GAME HUNTING

Big game hunting is historically associated with the hunting of Africa’s “big five” games the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros, along with tigers and rhinoceroses on the Indian subcontinent. While hunting of big game for food is an ancient practice dating back thousands of years, mankind did what we do best and turned it into a disgusting atrocity fueled by the bloodlust of innocent animals.

We’ve never condoned this heinous act of cruelty and we never will. That doesn’t mean we don’t have our eye for big game. The prowling beauties we fancy are powered by fossil fuel, run on four wheels, pack a punch under the hood, and goes vroom-vroom.

If it isn’t already obvious, we’re talking about cars and in the Nepalese automobile industry the big games are most definitely the SUVs. Burly, and capable of tackling rough terrain these massive beasts have been the sought after vehicles of most auto-enthusiasts. Not surprisingly, at the forefront of the competition is Toyota. A position the Japanese manufacturers established decades ago, and one it isn’t willing to relinquish anytime soon.

To maintain their claim to the throne, Toyota have brought in the newest iteration of one of their most popular offerings: the Fortuner. A newer modern version that looks ready to dominate the segment, the Toyota Fortuner could very well be amongst the king of the beasts. And the lucky buggers that we are, we got to have a go at this animal. Read on to find the outcome of our day with this predator.

EXTERIOR

Replacing the designs of the previous model is a more contemporary styling. It gets slim wraparound headlights that side both ends of a triple slated chrome grille where the Toyota logo sits smack dab in the middle. There is a more aerodynamic styling and the bonnet is sans of the air scoop. Toyota has also given the car automatic self-levelling bi-beam LED projector headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED tail-lamps and 18” alloy wheels (4WD).

Based on the Hilux pickup truck, the 2nd-gen Fortuner continues with a tough body-on-frame construction like the old car and uses the same ‘Toyota New Generation Architecture’ that underpins the Innova Crysta. The car measures 4,795 mm in length, 1,855 mm in width and 1,835 mm in height and with a combination of the other features, it provides the Fortuner massive presence.

Around back, sleek wraparound taillights sweep into the profile and are connected with a chrome strip bearing the Fortuner nametag. Bulging out fenders and massive wheels provide the Toyota Fortuner a muscular appeal.

SAFETY

In terms of safety, the Fortuner is equipped with seven airbags, 3-point seatbelts for all occupants, ABS + EBD, ISOFIX child seat mounts, traction control, vehicle stability control, brake assist, hill assist control and downhill assist control. The car has scored a 5-star rating in the Latin NCAP and ANCAP crash tests.

INTERIORS

The interiors of the Fortuner also receive updates that modernize the vehicle compared to its predecessor. They’ve gone with a black and brown colour theme, with silver and piano-black inserts at various places. Fit and finish along with the quality of the materials used is what you’d expect to see in a premium offering like this. Leather-wrapped steering with thumb contours is chunky and nice to hold. It has a wooden insert at the top (which offers sufficient grip) and a silver insert on the lower spokes. Silver paddle shifters it on either sides of the steering wheel.

Instrument cluster consists of a large tachometer on the left, speedometer on the right and analogue temperature + fuel gauges in them respectively. While the numbers are backlit in white, the needles are backlit in blue. The readability of this instrument cluster is very good, even under direct sunlight. Has two vertical blue lines for effect. It also gets a well-sized TFT colour MID which shows the various information like temperature, real time & average fuel economy, distance to empty counter and average speed.

The center console gets climate control and a touchscreen infotainment system. The Fortuner gets two glove boxes. The upper glove box, which opens when you press the Fortuner engraved button, is wide and shallow and also gets cooling functionality.

As you’d expect, it is a pretty spacious affair in the Fortuner. Front seats are wide and comfortable and they get 8 way electric adjustment. The Fortuner is only available in a 7-seater configuration. The middle row is a 60:40 splitting bench seat that is large enough to accommodate 3 adults. Leather upholstery is identical to the front seats. Thankfully, there is plenty of legroom.

To get into the third row is a breeze with a flip and tumble operation. Toyota calls this ‘one-touch access’. You have to fold & push the seat forward together. If you don’t push, only the backrest will fold down (without the seat tumbling forward).

PERFORMANCE

The beast that we had on our hands had a 2.8L mill beating under the hood; in numbers that comes out to be 175 BHP (@ 3,400 rpm) and 450 Nm of peak torque. This, mated with a six-speed transmission makes for a splendid driving experience.

Toyota has equipped the Fortuner with an economy and power mode which you can switch between via a push of a button to get out of the normal mode. Press the ECO button on the center console and you’ll immediately see the air-con blower’s level drop down a notch. The climate control works less harder in ECO mode – it still cools the cabin sufficiently though. Power delivery is also lower, with the throttle response dulled a bit. However, it still remains very useable thanks to its large engine capacity. It doesn’t feel sluggish at all and there is more than enough grunt on tap.

Engage PWR mode and it’s a different animal. The throttle response is sharper and the Fortuner exhibits a totally different vigor. The engine is very, very responsive in this driving mode. Acceleration times also noticeably improve. Also, the air-con blower level comes back up if you’re switching from eco to power mode.

The automatic transmission is satisfactory and doesn’t leave room for complaints. Moving from a standstill is smooth and seamless and this carries on as you drive. The transmission’s creep makes the Fortuner crawl at 8-9 km/h (without accelerator input) and you can drive with just your foot on the brake pedal through bottlenecks. Peak torque is developed early @ 1,600 rpm, thus there’s very little lag to speak of in the AT.

On the open road you will not be left craving for power as the big engine really does come to life. This is when you might want to switch to the paddle shifters. Manual mode is engaged by either putting the gear shifter in S mode or by using the paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel. These paddle shifters are of good quality and very well placed, making them convenient to operate. The massive dead pedals are very useful and comfortable.

Double wishbone suspension up front does a great job of soaking up road undulations and when you leave the tarmac. Ventilated disc brakes are installed on all four wheels too. Also, the new Fortuner gets part time 4×4, which gives it 2WD for tarmac usage, and 4WD is strictly for slippery conditions. With plenty of ground clearance the Fortuner is every bit ready to get down and dirty.

Furthermore, you get a host of fancy electronics and wizardry to help you along the way. The Active Traction Control provides helps to avoid wheel spins on starts, controls skidding, and provides smarter distribution of torque through all wheels. The HAC (Hill Assist Control) and DAC (Downhill Assist Control) help with ascents and descents. However, fitting the 4×4 with an H/T (Highway Terrain) tyres was a quirky decision. Regardless, you can shift from RWD to 4×4 even on the move, upto 100 km/h.

Overall the ride and handling is exquisite, even for an SUV as big as this. The suspension is set up on the firmer side and that helps its highway ride quality. The body roll is also better controlled.

VERDICT

The Toyota Fortuner makes up a portion of the Nepalese Police fleet for good reason. It has proven to be a very dependable machine and with the new iteration it is definitely in the cross heirs of many in the country.

The new Toyota Fortuner carries on the legacy of the SUVs and proves itself worthy of being one of the most coveted vehicles in the market. However, it does come with a hefty price tag. But you can’t really expect much less when you’re hunting big game.

ALL NEW TOYOTA FORTUNER | PRODUCT WATCH | AUTOLIFE NEPAL

For variants and pricing, click here

EXTERIOR HIGHLIGHTS

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