Toyota HiLux review (02/05/2012)

I’M fairly certain that in this part of the world the name Joe Klecko means fairly little to most people. Some sports fans might think they remember the name from somewhere, but to fans of the National Football League (NFL) and in particular to fans of the New York Jets, Klecko is a living legend.

Toyota HiLux review (02/05/2012)

Although he has yet to be inducted into the NFL’s Hall Of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Klecko is destined to one day join that pantheon of American football greats, but he has already been enshrined in the history of the sport as being one of only two players to have been selected for the Pro-Bowl in three different positions.

Aside from being, along with Mark Gastineau, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam, a member of the Jets’ much feared ‘New York Sack Exchange’ defensive unit, Klecko was one of the club’s most popular players of all time, a fact recognised by the Jets when they retired his number 73 jersey. Only two other Jets players, legendary quarterback Joe Namath and Superbowl winning wide receiver Don Maynard have been accorded the same accolade by the team.

Now you may be wondering what in God’s name is all this stuff about Joe Klecko doing appearing in a review of a motor car? Well, in many ways, the Toyota HiLux and the former Jets great have very many things in common.

For a start they both were — and are — hugely popular. Jets fans come from all parts of the city, but many of them regard themselves as blue collar workers and they like their football heroes to reflect their rugged, no-nonsense approach to life. Thus they truly identified with Klecko because he was a ‘lunch-pail’ type of guy who always gave 110% on and off the field.

He also played throughout his 11-year NFL career as a defensive end, defensive tackle and a nose tackle, with some form of injury or other, and when he retired in 1988 it was due to chronic knee problems. But the thing with Klecko was that he was never found wanting, despite often playing in considerable pain.

Are you beginning to get the idea here?

The HiLux has been with us since 1968 and millions of them have been produced since then.

In fact, in 2011 over half a million were sold worldwide, which is a fair indication not alone of how popular the vehicle is, but how highly regarded it is as a completely bomb-proof buying proposition.

And its reputation is not just as an all-purpose, go-anywhere machine which requires only minimal maintenance to keep it sweet, it has also,

unbelievably, gained a huge reputation as a fighting machine in various third world conflicts, and readers may remember the recent strife in Libya where the HiLux played a significant role as a light cavalry vehicle. Indeed, a previous border conflict between Chad and Libya became known as the ‘Toyota War’ because of the job the HiLux did.

Driving the HiLux, the first thing you’ll notice is that the ride is more Rodeo Ronnie than Sammy Silk, but you soon learn that despite its rocky antics in this regard, it actually handles with reasonable aplomb and is quite a decent driving proposition.

However, for passengers the HiLux is not a comfortable beast and for any poor souls in the rear of the double cab subjected to a trip on country roads it will be a memorable experience, but for all the wrong reasons.

But that’s not the point with the HiLux. For the majority of people drawn to this pick-up, the only reason they will have passengers is to drive them to or from work and comfort levels are therefore not really a priority. Just as well.

I have heard it said that the car could do with more power, but I have to say that I thought the 144 bhp and 343 Nm of torque available from the 2.5 litre D-4D engine was ample. I frightened the living daylights out of myself when I accidentally got it sideways on one occasion and was immediately of the opinion that, yes, there was plenty of poke available. Toyota claims an economy figure of 7.3 l/100 km (38.3 mpg — hello Garry Lee) which is not bad for a workhorse.

Creature comforts are not exactly thick on the ground here, which is only right and proper for a pick-up, but Toyota has thrown in stuff like a rear view camera, manual air con., electric front windows and a decent ‘infotainment’ system incorporating Bluetooth and USB connector.

All told then the HiLux is right up there where you want to be if you’re in the market for a pick-up then you may not want to look much further than this.

As a blue collar, lunch-pail car, the HiLux is every bit as much of a legend as the great Joe Klecko was a blue collar, lunch-pail American football player.

You see, there was a connection after all.

Mazda launch CX-6

MAZDA Ireland descended on Cork last week to undertake the official press launch of the company’s exciting new CX-5 compact SUV offering, which it feels is set to cause more than a few ripples in its market segment.

Priced from 25,195 (excluding the usual dealer charges and delivery charges, which is still a nonsense in this day and age) the first shipment will arrive in Mazda dealers nationwide over the coming week.

Mazda are proud that the CX-5 is their first product to embody the company’s innovative SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, which has embodied a ‘ground-up’ approach to the design of their vehicles to make them as powerful, frugal, environmentally friendly and people oriented as is possible through the use of every modern technology.

The range will be offered with a choice of two engines with three power outputs: 2.0-litre SKYACTIV 165ps petrol (it will not be seen here until early 2013) and 2.2-litre SKYACTIV 150ps or 175ps diesel. All engines feature i-Stop, Mazda’s stop-start technology.

Mazda say customers can choose from manual and automatic transmissions, 2-wheel drive (2WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) and three equipment levels – Executive, Sport & Sport SE. The 2WD drive version will be the main seller.

The company also maintains that the CX-5 is engineered to deliver best in class CO2 emissions of only 119g/100kms from the 2.2L diesel engine, placing it in Tax Band A (160). It also claims that it will deliver fuel economy of 4.6L/100kms (61.4mpg).

The SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY incorporates a new chassis, new transmission and a lightweight body, aimed at the goal of delivering driving enjoyment and performance, similar to that inspired by Mazda’s legendary MX-5 roadster, which, you’d have to admit, is a bit of a tall order.

Speaking at the launch last week, Steve Jelliss, director market support, Mazda Ireland, said: “The all-new Mazda CX-5 is a hugely important car for Mazda, marking a renaissance for the brand in Ireland.

“SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY delivers lower cost motoring to the consumer whilst still offering the superior level of driving dynamics which Mazda is renowned for,” he said, adding: “The all-new CX-5 allows us to compete in the growing compact SUV segment in Ireland and invites attention from both existing Mazda and competitor owners.”

With families as the target market, Mazda claims its engineers ensured the interior deals with all the demands of real life. Boot space is maximised with 4:2:4 split rear seats, while passengers enjoy class leading rear legroom.

The company says the CX-5 is the first non-premium SUV in its class to

offer the radar-based Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) that helps prevent low speed frontal collisions, as standard.

Decent kit levels are also on offer with the Sport model, priced from 29,495, featuring 17”alloys, climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth, parking sensors with a rear camera and a 5.8” touch screen with Tom-Tom sat nav. We will be driving the new machine in the very near future.

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