JOHANNESBURG - Since it was first introduced to the South African market in 1969, the Toyota Hilux has, quite rightly, earned the title of Legend.

Reliability, toughness and resale value have underpinned a bakkie that has crept into the South African psyche for 50 years; many years topping monthly sales figures.

On its 40th anniversary, Toyota basically slapped on a couple of stickers and brought out a Legend 40 edition, and 10 years after the success of that we now have the Legend 50.

I know many people and have a lot of friends that swear by Toyota and mostly the Hilux. As a motoring journalist who gets to drive many alternatives it doesn’t always make sense, but it’s not our money that we’re forking out so who are we to judge?

They’re fiercely loyal and can be a bit of an odd lot as I found out when I was recently testing the Legend 50. “Are you coming for dinner tonight,” I was asked.

“Thanks yes, see you after work.”

“You bringing the Hilux?”

“You do know that it’s the same as the 2.8 double cab that’s standing in your garage?”

“Ja, but it’s the Legend, boet.”

South Africans have always had a bit of a penchant for go-fast stickers and a bit of colour on their vehicles, which in essence is what the Legend 50 is about.

At the heart of it, there’s no difference to the Hilux you’ll find at any dealer. Powered by the 2.8 GD-6 engine, coupled to a either a six-speed automatic gearbox or a six-speed manual that pushes out 130kW and 450Nm, but you can also opt for the 4.0 litre petrol V6 with an auto box.

We were driving the manual version and it’s not often these days that a manual car ends up in the driveway. It takes a while to get used to it again as I found out on a couple of occasions, almost stalling on slowing down by forgetting to change down gears.

While the drive-train, suspension, and everything else is no different, it’s the exterior that’s been its success.

The front upper and lower grille have been blacked out in gloss, the fog lamp surrounds receive matching treatment as a silver accent line frames the vertical fog lamp garnish, with a matching silver lower-bumper guard and Legend 50 badging rounds it off.

From the side black protective mouldings, chrome exterior mirrors, chrome door handles and black side steps sets it apart from the standard bakkie, while a customised rear styling bar with Legend 50 badging, tonneau cover and satin-silver roof rails give it a further unique look. Legend 50-specific 18-inch alloys round off the package.

A black rear bumper, smoked rear lights and tailgate badging, and a tow-bar fitted come as standard.

Inside black-leather trim with blue perforation and stitching give it a pleasant look. The infotainment system has been upgraded to a 20.3cm display and finally Toyota now have separate dials for volume and tuning function.

In off-road circles there’s a standing joke about Toyotas being white appliances but the Legend 50 with a lick of paint, some stickers and a slight interior tweak, changes that and that’s why it’s a legend, boet!

The Toyota Hilux Legend double cab models are priced between R584 900 and R719 200.

Drive360