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Toyota goes Tonka again

Sketchy details: Toyota’s Tonka-inspired HiLux is being penned by the design team in Melbourne.

HiLux to get another Tonka make-over as Toyota promotes its tough “toy”

9 Feb 2017

TOYOTA is set to wheel out another one-off Tonka Truck-inspired vehicle, this time based on HiLux and crafted by the company’s Australian design team in Melbourne.

Last year, Toyota turned out a Tonka HiLux as a pace car for the current Sydney Speedway season. While that was a fairly sedate affair, Toyota Australia promises the next iteration will have jacked-up custom suspension and massive wheels for “prodigious rock climbing”.

Across the Pacific, Toyota’s American operation tried its hand at such a Tonka vehicle for the SEMA show in Las Vegas in 2015, in that case transforming a 4Runner SUV with … yes, custom raised suspension and massive wheels, all plastered with Tonka branding in black and yellow.

So far, Toyota Australia has only revealed a partly obscured sketch and a promotional video of its next attempt which it says will be fully driveable and revealed “within months”. The company did not say where or to what purpose.

Two years ago, a HiLux TRD concept penned by the Australian team surfaced at the Bangkok motor show held annually in March-April in Thailand – home to HiLux production.

Like last year’s speedway special, the 2017 Tonka HiLux will be based on the 4x4 HiLux SR5 double cab with a top-spec 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine.

“But that's about where the similarities end,” Toyota Australia says in a press release. “Almost every exterior HiLux surface will be beefed up as part of the Tonka metamorphosis.”

Bumpers, grille, tailgate, wheel-arches and door mouldings will be among the areas to be modified.

Like previous Toyota Tonka efforts, the vehicle will be cloaked in black and yellow with the Tonka logo plastered down the sides.

Toyota Australia's product design chief Nicolas Hogios said combining the tough and enduring DNA of the HiLux and Tonka brands was a natural fit.

“We expect the extreme style and capability of our re-imagined HiLux will capture the imagination of kids and adults alike,” he said.

“HiLux is such a great canvas, and we really pushed the envelope by marrying our number-one seller with the Tonka brand.

“The end result is so exciting because the HiLux Tonka really delivers the dream of every Australian kid who ever wanted such a truck.”

Mr Hogios’ design team is part of the Toyota Australia product planning and development division that over the past three years has increased from a workforce of about 100 to 150.

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