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Sydney show: Toyota flexes 4WD muscles

Retro appeal: The Toyota FJ cruiser is mechanically similar to the prevous-generation Prado.

Toyota showcases funky, chunky and intrepid off-roaders – plus a sports car

12 Oct 2010

TOYOTA will flex its 4WD muscles at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney on Friday with the preview of its beefy retro FJ Cruiser, due on sale around the end of the first quarter next year.

The long-awaited four-door SUV is based on the previous-generation Prado 120 Series chassis and has been on sale in the USA for some years.

The FJ Cruiser shown at Sydney will be a pre-production right-hand drive sample that is representative of what Toyota will offer here by next April, but the exact specification has not yet been locked down for the Australian market.

8 center imageFrom top: Toyota FT-86G concept, Toyota HiLux "fire and ice", Modified Toyota RAV4.

What we do know is that the FJ Cruiser will arrive from Japan – not the USA, where left-hand drive market FJ Cruisers are built – with only one specification grade, featuring the 4.0-litre 200kW/380Nm V6 petrol engine, five-speed automatic and suspension from the previous-generation Prado, with a part-time 4WD system similar to that fitted to HiLux.

Toyota will also whip the covers off the FT-86G, which is a sleeker and more aggressive development of the FT-86 concept car built in conjunction with Subaru that debuted at last year’s Tokyo show.

The G in this evolution denotes Toyota’s technical partner GAZOO Racing, which provides styling and performance improvements to a series of Japanese-market Toyota models.

The Celica-like FT-86 is understood to be in Toyota’s local product plans for 2013.

It has a front-mounted Impreza-derived 2.0-litre turbo boxer engine driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.

Gazoo’s modifications include a larger air intake with visible intercooler, vented bonnet, carbon-fibre wing and diffuser, large twin exhausts and Bridgestone 19-inch rubber – 245/40 at the front and 275/35 at the rear.

Toyota’s stand will also feature a special “fire and ice” HiLux, which was the first vehicle to be driven to the North Pole and also took scientists to the edge of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano.

It is similar to the HiLux made famous by the Top Gear episode where the presenters raced to the Pole against a traditional dog-and-sled team.

Reykjavik conversion specialists Arctic Trucks modified the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel HiLux to endure the extreme terrain and minus-36C temperatures.

The front wishbone suspension was moved forward and given an additional 40mm of lift, while the rear suspension was fitted with more pliant leaf springs, heavy-duty bump stops and specially tuned shock absorbers.

Alloy wheels with two valves per wheel are fitted with AT405 38-inch studded snow tyres and, while the engine remains essentially standard, it gains an auxiliary coolant heater, fuel heaters and a heavy-duty battery while the air intake was raised and a special exhaust system fitted.

Fuel capacity is extended to 180 litres for the special mix diesel brew required for Arctic conditions.

Flared wheel arches cover the balloon tyres, winch mounts front and rear and a bull bar are fitted, and 5mm-thick aluminium skid plates and tougher side steps installed to better protect the HiLux from the unyielding ice.

Another interesting display on the Toyota stand will be a RAV4 modified by local street car show promoter Auto Salon, who have given it a bright red pearlescent custom paint job, massive 22-inch wheels and tyres, a body kit and an air suspension system that lowers the vehicle 250mm for a ‘slammed’ look – but only for display purposes because the suspension has to be pumped-up again for street driving.

“Basically, Toyota gave us the car and told us to go crazy,” said RAV4 project leader William Ng.

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