• The Toyota Fortuner has been a best-seller in SA since 2006.
• The Fortuner trumps rivals such as the Ford Everest and Isuzu mu-X.
• The new Fortuner was launched in South Africa earlier this month.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
In 2006, the South African car market was turned on its head with the arrival of the Toyota Fortuner. Suddenly, buyers who always wanted the durability and reputation of a Hilux but without sacrificing the comfort of a car had something to get excited about. Toyota did, and does still, offer the Rav4, but it never spoke to that specific audience. Rivals like Hyundai and Kia also had their SUVs, but they didn't have the brand confidence Toyota enjoyed.
Ford, at the time, had its Territory, but it couldn't withstand the finicky buying patterns of our unique market. It was subsequently discontinued from the market and replaced with the Everest.
But the Fortuner, it continued undeterred, registering strong sales figures with each passing year. Every month, since that 2006 introduction, the Fortuner counted among the top-selling vehicles when the monthly sales figures are counted. And Toyota? Well, their 'modest' sales target of 800 - 1000 units per month are almost always surpassed.
For the last few years, the Fortuner has faced stiff competition from several rivals in South Africa. Yet, no matter how good the marketing pitches and incentivized deals are, the Fortuner never needed to look over its shoulder in fear that it will lose sales. The SUV is, by default, good enough that it basically sells itself.
In South Africa, the Fortuner has three direct rivals - all built on the platforms that underscore the bakkies they are based on. The Ranger-based Everest is powered by a range of diesel engines, with power outputs ranging from 118kW/385Nm to 157kW/500Nm. The Isuzu mu-X shares its architecture with the Isuzu D-Max, and only one engine, mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, is available. The 3.0-litre motor pushes out 130kW/380Nm and is the oldest unit in this company.
From Mitsubishi comes the Pajero Sport. The SUV shares its credentials with the Triton double cab bakkie and is powered by a 2.4-litre engine. With 133kW/430Nm to its disposal, the SUV sends its power to its wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Against its rivals, it is perhaps the most underrated while offering a stellar package at a competitive price.
Unless something drastic happens to sway consumers' minds, the Fortuner will soldier on mostly unrivalled. And with the new model launched locally earlier this month, there is little to indicate that it will not continue to enjoy the same success.