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Toyota SA ditches Hilux GR Sport III’s ‘aero’ styling bar
Toyota SA ditches Hilux GR Sport III’s ‘aero’ styling bar

Toyota SA ditches Hilux GR Sport III’s ‘aero’ styling bar

May 13, 2024
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13 May 2024

hilux styling bar change

The SA-spec version of the widebody Toyota Hilux GR Sport III won’t come fitted with the distinctive “aero-styled” sports bar. Here’s why the Japanese brand says it’s decided to drop this appendage…

When the Toyota Hilux GR Sport III was first displayed in South Africa at SOMI 2024 in January, it wore a distinctive “aero-styled” sports bar. Now, however, Cars.co.za can confirm that this appendage will be dropped from the SA-spec widebody model, and replaced by a conventional tubular item.

As an aside, even though we unearthed local pricing for the Prospecton-built Hilux GR Sport III as long ago as the first week of March 2024 – the month in which this highly anticipated widebody bakkie was originally scheduled to launch in Mzansi – the new R999 000 model has yet to officially hit the market. The media launch, however, kicks off this week.

hilux styling bar aero
The SA-spec model will no longer feature this “aero-styled” bar.

But back to the styling bar switch. Why the change from the unusual aero version back to a tubular item, which looks decidedly similar to that employed by the outgoing Hilux GR Sport II? Well, we asked Toyota South Africa Motors that very question. According to a statement from the Japanese giant’s local division, it all boils down to the results of local market research.

“The decision to incorporate a tubular sports bar on our vehicle was driven by extensive market research and customer feedback analysis. Our primary goal is to ensure that our vehicles resonate with the preferences and needs of our local customer base,” Toyota SA Motors told Cars.co.za.

aero vs tubular
A comparison of the original “aero-styled” bar (top) and the conventional tubular item (bottom).

Interestingly, that’s not the reason put forward overseas. You see, Toyota’s division in Argentina also recently ditched the “aero-styled” bar, instead leaving its version of the Hilux GR Sport double-cab bakkie without a sports bar altogether (as is the case with the Thailand-built model offered in Australia). The company’s Argentinian arm told Motor1.com that it had detected a “possible durability problem with this part”, without going into more detail. Make of that what you will.

For the record, a Toyota engineer in Argentina earlier this year explained to Motor1.com that the aerodynamic sports bar was “functional” rather than included just for the sake of styling, as it helped to reduce the widebody Hilux’s drag co-efficient. In addition, translated press material from the South American country – which also builds the Hilux – suggested that the bar reduced turbulence, which in turn improved both refinement and fuel consumption.

griii 1
Hilux GR-Sport III pictured with the tubular sports bar.

As a reminder, the new GR Sport III will retain the outgoing version’s uprated 2.8-litre, 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine (and 6-speed automatic transmission), which means peak outputs again sit at 165 kW and 550 Nm.

The most obvious change is the upgrade to a widebody configuration, courtesy of wider tracks. We can confirm that while the Prospecton-built newcomer will measure 5 325 mm from nose to tail (just like the standard double cab), its overall width will increase from 1 900 mm to 2 020 mm.

griii 2
The tubular sports bar features GR branding.

At 1 865 mm, the GR Sport III will also stand 50 mm taller than standard, thanks to a combination of its revised suspension system (which includes new monotube dampers) and chunkier tyres. On the latter topic, we can also confirm that the SA-spec model will ride on BFGoodrich all-terrain rubber in 265/65 R17 size (compared with the standard Legend and Legend RS tyres, which measure 265/60 R18).

Mzansi has seen 2 versions of the Hilux GR Sport before now. The first came in mid-2019, with a revised iteration (complete with the aforementioned extra power and torque) hitting the local market in September 2022. Both, of course, featured standard bodies.

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