Billed as the "dream toy for adults", this collaborative 'Toyonka' (Tonkota?) made its global debut in Sydney recently. As hoped, it oozes the same childish charm as the bright yellow, indestructible, miniature dump truck that most of us still harbour fond childhood memories of.
The black and yellow beast was unveiled in the exhibition hall at Australian Technology Park alongside the new HiLux TRD (Toyota Racing Development) edition. Both are based on the top-spec HiLux 4x4 double-cab SR5.
For the concept's debut, a special indoor off-road track had been set up for the HiLux Tonka concept with dirt, giant building blocks, ascent, descent and articulation exercises, all cleverly designed to show off its hard-core modifications.
It looks like a tough piece of equipment. There haven't been any changes under the bonnet, though, which means it has the same 130kW/450Nm 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine as the standard SR5.
But, as you can see, the exterior alterations have been extensive. How about that custom 'Sun Fusion' yellow paint?
Among the highlights are a hub-mounted reduction gearbox supplied by Marks 4WD Adaptors, and heavy-duty springs and adjustable remote reservoir shocks from King Springs.
Other upgrades include a high-riding axle that has increased the ride height by 150mm, 17-inch alloy wheels with bulbous 35-inch tyres, a new front bumper, carbon fibre bonnet skin with a power bulge, LED lighting to help see where you’re going in the dark or in the thick of the bush, and thick alloy bash plates.
There's a new tailgate wrapped in carbon-fibre with an integrated spoiler and vents to optimise airflow, a tubular frame has been installed in the tub.
The frame keeps all the gear securely stowed during extreme off-road driving endeavours, with space for diesel fuel cans, storage boxes with recovery gear, fire extinguisher and tools including an axe, shovel and high-lift jack.
The finished HiLux Tonka concept is 70mm longer than the SR5, 325mm wider and 235mm higher and its kerb weight is a whopping 2400kg, which is 325kg more than its standard equivalent.
The approach and departure angle have both been improved by four degrees and are now 35 and 30-degrees respectively.
Unfortunately, as it is a one-off, there are only a couple of people insured to drive it, so it's the passenger seat for me. It sits incredibly high; it glides over rougher parts of the course and easily handles everything thrown at it in this controlled environment.
*Off-road track and HiLux Tonka concept each sold separately. Batteries not included!
I can't help but think how much more fun it would be to test its limits out on a real off-road trail and see how capable it is as a real 4WD, rather than as a toy for grown-ups on a specially designed course.
I'm sure the Toyota team had an absolute ball designing this, and it was a lot of fun to be taken for a ride.
Next up was the HiLux TRD, which is essentially a superficial styling update.
The TRD edition is based on the same HiLux 4x4 double-cab SR5 as the HiLux Tonka concept, but it gets a red skid plate, new black grill, bumper cover, fender flares, 18-inch alloy wheels and black sports bar, plus a towing kit.
Though there are no changes to the engine or underpinnings, the red TRD-branded accents are eye-catching and a nice contrast to the now traditional 'black pack' special editions.
An indoor off-road course had been set up for the HiLux TRD that included a steep hill descent, as well as rough and uneven surfaces and tracks.
I got to drive the TRD and put it through its paces. The hill-descent control was confident and made the exercise an absolute breeze.
It was a comfortable drive from all angles with its leather-accented interior trim and TRD carpet floor mats, as well as its smoothness and control over the undulating surfaces as it made its way through the course.
This could be a great seller for Toyota, given that the SR5 trim accounted for more than half of 4x4 HiLux sales last year and the TRD is priced from $58,990 drive-away.
The HiLux ute was also the first vehicle other than a passenger car to top the best-seller list in Australia.
The HiLux TRD is now on-sale, while the HiLux Tonka concept will be making its way around Australia, popping up at 4WD shows, trade expos and agricultural events - so keep an ear out for appearance dates and you might just get to see it for yourself and reignite your childish enthusiasm in the process.