- The Japanese carmaker has a void to fill
- Could offer a ladder-frame construction in that space
Toyota has globally premiered a mini Hilux a.k.a Hilux Champ. It is based on the new IMV platform for Toyota’s pickups/light trucks along with SUVs and passenger cars. As the production version rolls first in Thailand, we know an affordable off-roader based on the Champ is expected. The question is, will it be the premium SUV which will be positioned below the Fortuner to occupy the space currently being ruled by the Hyundai Tucson?
In the Toyota India line-up, there’s a space between the Hycross and the Fortuner. The Japanese carmaker could use this space with an SUV priced between Rs 25 and 35 lakh with two rows of seating, offering modern technology and comfort like ADAS, fancy touchscreen, digital MID, ventilated and heated front seats, and a panoramic sunroof. However, if it is based on the Champ, the mid-size SUV would also benefit from the ruggedness of a ladder-on-frame construction which no other car in this segment currently offers.
Earlier, this position from Toyota was held by the Altis. But it was a sedan long gone and car buyers certainly prefer an SUV over a low-slung three-box saloon. So the Champ-based SUV must offer the technology and easy-on-the-pocket factor that the Altis held for a long time.
The single-cab Champ pick-up does appear utilitarian (especially inside the cabin), but its USP stands at the scope of personalization. It has the flexibility of two wheelbase length and the dimensions are close to that of the Innova Crysta. The powertrain choices include a 150bhp 2.4-litre diesel, a 130bhp/183Nm 2.0-litre petrol, and a 2.7-litre petrol making 166bhp/245Nm, with the option of both manual and automatic gearbox. Some markets will also get a strong hybrid powertrain option. These powertrain options will also fit perfectly for the SUV which will rival the Tucson as well as the Citroen C5 Aircross, Volkswagen Tiguan and the Skoda Kodiaq.
With the Fortuner getting more and more expensive each passing year, there’s surely an unrealized need for a Toyota-badged SUV with a price tag of around Rs 30 lakh. Since there’s a chance that Hilux Champ itself might come to India as the standard Hilux has, the prospect of bringing the said SUV based on Champ becomes even more enticing.