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New Toyota Fortuner: An off-road maestro in need of some extra gear

by maneesh sinha 2 months ago in product review

Toyota Fortuner’s performance was always great but it didn’t have the value you would expect from a ₹20+ lakh vehicle. Cut to 2021, it still has the same issues.

Toyota Motor on Monday launched its internationally-acclaimed sports utility vehicle Fortuner in India. The Japanese carmaker, which has a joint venture with Kirloskar Group in India, is also expecting a three-fold increase in its sales in the country in the next four years, particularly after the scheduled launch of its new small car in 2011.

Priced at Rs. 18.45 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the four-wheel drive SUV comes with a 3.0 litre diesel engine with intercooler turbocharger, offering 171 PS power.

“It has an incomparable combination of luxurious interiors and sporty features for an exciting driving experience. The ‘Toyota Outstanding Platform’ (TOP) that handles all kinds of terrain along with features such as ABS, disc brakes, impact absorbing body and airbags makes it the real SUV,” said Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) Managing Director Hiroshi Nakagawa.

The company hopes to sell over 2,000 units of the SUV in 2009.

According to Toyota Motor Corporation Senior Managing Director Akira Okabe, the Japanese carmaker is aiming at three-fold increase in its sales in next three to four years, where the sales growth will be fuelled by the launch of new small car that is planned for launch in early 2011 and also some new models. Last year, TKM sold 51,000 units, while this year it hopes to sell 52,000 units.

Stating that the company’s sales was likely to remain flat this year, Mr. Nakagawa said in the first seven months of this year, it had sold 25,910 units.

“Once our small car is launched, we are expecting to capture a 10 per cent share of the Indian passenger car market by 2015. Our Rs. 3,200-crore small car manufacturing facility in Bangalore could turn the country a hub for small cars in the future,” he added.

TKM’s Deputy Managing Director (Marketing) Sandeep Singh said the company was planning to expand its dealer network from 90 to 150 by 2010.

A car which starts at ₹30 lakh and doesn’t have a sunroof and Indians are still buying it. 5,000 of these Fortuners (+Legender) are already booked. How is it possible? Yes, that is the beauty of Fortuner. Toyota Fortuner’s performance was always great but it didn’t have the value you would expect from a ₹20+ lakh vehicle (when it was launched in India). Cut to 2021, it still has the same issues. The car which looks fresh, sharper and comes with extra power, still leaves you wanting for so much more with regards to interior quality and new-age features. Features which even few of the ₹10 lakh segment cars are offering. Still, it sells and still it is selling. What makes it such an interesting car and a bestseller? Let’s find out.

Toyota Fortuner 2021: Intro

We, motoring journalists, like most of the others in this fraternity do suffer from the Amitabh Bachhan Syndrome. This is also known as the last word syndrome. We feel that whatever we are saying about a product are golden and our viewers, readers will take them as the final verdict and make their decisions accordingly. However, the reality and sales charts suggest otherwise as if they are saying- OK Boomer. This could be disheartening for a few journalists, but not me. So, here I am still writing about the new Toyota Fortuner. The car which has ruled the charts sold more than what I thought it would. A few of them were my friends, who had asked me and still bought them.

Toyota Fortuner 2021: Performance

This is that part of the story where Fortuner tells us why it still rules the heart of Indian 7 seater SUV customers- it’s performance. Toyota Fortuner covers almost all the options we can think of

Two-wheel drive 2.7 L petrol engine with manual or automatic transmission options

Two or four-wheel drive options with 2.8 L diesel engine, again a choice between manual and transmission. As mentioned above, I drove the 4 wheel drive option.

Toyota Fortuner 2020.png

The performance of this car is one of the smoothest in this segment, the power delivery and transmission changes make the experience very comfortable and predictable. The acceleration is not ultra-exciting but straight-line power delivery is easy and predictable. Around the corners, you feel the mass and size of this vehicle, the body roll is pretty evident but this doesn’t throw you off. The ride quality of the Toyota Fortuner is the star of the show. It keeps you comfortable on the tarmac and composed on rough roads. Whatever uneven surface I tried taking to, it did it without drama. Which, at this age, I find it very appealing. Like house parties with your friends, unlike pubs or restaurants. Chill time without all the drama. No blaring Tiktok playlist, expensive dining and minding your elbows all the time. Toyota has that friendly vibe to it, why so many Indian customers go for this vehicle I guess. However, many North Indian experts believe that it has to do with Fortuner’s size and bahubali presence on the roads plus Toyota’s great after-sales and maintenance record. I guess I need to collect some more data on this.

Many SUV enthusiasts would not like it if I include the sub-compact, two-wheel, bumped up-amplified hatchbacks in the SUV list but then the list is subjective. Indian consumers are buying more and more SUVs and 2-wheel-drives are ruling the charts. However, the point I was trying to make wasn’t about their offroading capabilities. 99 per cent of those vehicles hardly go to those rough terrains which we double tap on 4X4 Instagram pages. What these cars lack capability-wise compensate in the features list. You think of any trendy, cool or functional feature, these cars have it. That is what makes Fortuner’s job difficult. Toyota Fortuner, despite being an off-road maestro, needs lots of work still. It needs gadgets and gizmos which could make me as happy on the roads as I am while jumping or racing in mud or tiptoeing on the rocky terrain.

So, now as I end this story here, you are free to go and buy another Fortuner. The version I drove was the 4X4 one with a new Sport driving mode, taking the number of driving modes to three. This offroader comes with a lockable differential and limited-slip differential now (only in the 4WD diesel version). This gets a front clearance Sonar as well. There are few noticeable changes in the interiors too like the ventilated seats, Android Auto/Apple Car play in the update infotainment screen. The new Fortuner also features few connected features including Geo-fencing, last parked location etc.

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maneesh sinha

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