Toyota New Zealand will be offering a tougher-looking HiLux SR5 Cruiser, but there's no indication the special model will be coming to Australia.
The new SR5 Cruiser, which looks very similar to the Thailand-bound HiLux Rocco, runs with a new grille and front bumper, complete with a neatly-integrated skid-plate at the front.
As with the Thai-market car, the new look appears to be inspired by the Tacoma, with vertical fog-lights and a more pronounced air intake on the lower bumper.
It rides on gloss-black 18-inch alloy wheels, too, and gets unique graphics on the front doors, but the aggressive three-quarter sail-panel from the Thai car hasn't carried over. Toyota NZ is offering the car in a range of seven colours, ranging from subdued silver to an eye-catching orange.
The driver and passenger are treated to heated seats inside, with electric adjustment for the driver.
A choice of 4WD or PreRunner (high-riding, two-wheel drive) is available, with no word on what will power the car. Given the rest of the range makes use of the same 2.8-litre diesel engine, making 130kW of power and 450Nm of torque, we're banking on the same showing up in the SR5 Cruiser.
As for Australia? We'll hand over to Aleks Krajcer, communications boss for Toyota Australia, for the answer.
"As you know, the Hilux is a global vehicle with various grades and specs available in markets around the world. The package you’re referring to is an addition to the New Zealand Hilux Range," he said to CarAdvice.
"The HiLux is a model that has stolen the imagination of the Australian buying public in recent times and looks set to finish the year as Australia’s top-selling vehicle in a segment that is extremely competitive.
"We don’t have any product announcements to make today. As always though, we’d welcome feedback from you and your audience regarding the unique style that’s been displayed."
Above: The Thai-market HiLux Rocco
Which raises the question: why is Toyota New Zealand running with the new, more aggressive face? The answer likely lies in the sales figures.
Our neighbours from across the Tasman have developed a taste for the Ford Ranger. It outsold the HiLux by a margin of 2091 last year, and the Blue Oval is on track to comfortably usurp its Japanese rival again. Just last month, 874 Rangers found a home, as opposed to 620 HiLuxes.
The SR5 Cruiser, with its stylish new nose and more luxurious cabin, looks like an attempt to steal sales from the Wildtrak and FX4. In other words? Buy more Ford Rangers, and we might see something similar here...
Thanks Inderjit for the tip!