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Took the new sporty Fortuner for a drive

Upon riding in the ‘Forty,’ an oft nickname for the Fortuner, I immediately fell in lust. I was in a state of overwhelming attraction, to say that it had a premium feel would be an understatement. And I have not been in an SUV that made me want to put the pedal to the metal real bad

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TOYOTA Fortuner GR-S basks by the picturesque Sampaloc Lake in Laguna. A day with this Forty well-spent, 10 out of 10 would want to do it again. (Photographs by Xeres Guia and Ronald De Los Reyes for The Daily Tribune)

Last Friday, I was given the chance to see in the metal the new additions to the Toyota Gazoo Racing lineup: The GR-Sport versions of the Fortuner and the Hilux. As a fun-size girl who likes big cars, I was excited to see what Toyota has done to two of the country’s most favorite daily drivers and workhorses.

I found myself that mid-morning at the parking lot of a big mall in Alabang. It was almost empty, save for a few cars all with Toyota badges parked neatly on one side, with the stars of the show — the Fortuner GR-S and the Hilux GR-S — right in the middle, taking center stage, as it should. Parked in a come-hither manner, the striking and more aggressive exterior of both vehicles is what one would easily notice.

If you will base it on looks alone, there definitely is a sportier edginess to the GR-S variants of the two vehicles. What is also great to note is that the inside perfectly complements the outside with both models having the red, black and smoke silver metallic accented GR interior. I particularly loved the red stitching along the racing-type power seats and a racing-feel steering wheel that formed a well-lined display for the GR badges in the middle.

THE Toyota Fortuner GR-S and Hilux GR-S parked in a come-hither manner at a mall parking in Alabang, Muntinlupa before heading out to San Pablo, Laguna.

I first got inside the Hilux GR-S and immediately noticed the more premium feel of the cabin. I got to drive it for a bit, to make a TikTok, as the young ones do nowadays, and I noticed how it responded quickly to my quest for speed. I figured this must be the upgraded 2.8-liter turbo-diesel engine at work (which on paper apparently still has the same engine as the regular variant.)

After making TikToks with the Hilux GR-S, we then prepared to head to our destination for the day, Sulyap Café in San Pablo, Laguna. We were to ride in the Fortuner GR-S on the way, and my editor, Ronald de los Reyes, uttered the best sentence of the day: “Sure, you can drive first.” My giddy self could not contain the excitement.

Upon riding in the “Forty,” an oft nickname for the Fortuner, I immediately fell in lust. I was in a state of overwhelming attraction, to say that it had a premium feel would be an understatement. And I have not been in an SUV that made me want to put the pedal to the metal real bad.

I still employed GGD all the way to Laguna though, meaning I was a “good girl driver” all throughout the 62-kilometer ride. But, admittedly, “good girl driving” was on hold during some spots along SLEX that provided opportunities to run above a 100 and test out the Sport mode of our Forty for the day. There is definitely a push that you feel when you switch to it, but leave it on long enough and you would not even notice a difference, unless you are gunning down hard on the accelerator and really traveling at max speeds — which you would be doing on a racetrack but hardly, and not advisably, on an expressway.

GOOD Girl Driver experiencing the racing feel of the new Fortuner GR-S.

 

GR badges make everything look great from the steering wheel to the key fob.

Brake response is impressive, and looking at technical aspects of the GR-S variants, both vehicles got the new GR brake calipers, with the Fortuner GR-S getting the GR rear brake calipers, as well. The Forty never lurched forward when I stepped on the brake, even when I did a “brake test”, which is great. There is also no lag in power, even on the uphill parts of the drive, which made the ride just smooth.

Ride comfort is present, yes, save for a few bumps you would still feel here and there. Serving as a reminder that we should not forget that as much as it delivers as a city-driving beast, the Fortuner is, and can be, an off-road animal, as well. A daily-driver workhorse that can be a weekend warrior, is, of course, a well-known Fortuner quality.

The 62 kilometers went by in the blink of an eye because distance, like time, goes by fast when you are having fun. And driving the Fortuner GR-S was fun, to say the very least. Toyota Motor Philippines scores well with their intention of making sportier options available for racing fans and motorsport enthusiasts who want to express their racing passion through their daily drivers.

If Toyota’s goal was to make a version of their bestselling SUV and their highly-dependable pickup that would be even more appealing to the adventure and thrill-seeking crowd, then they hit the mark with the GR-Sport versions of the Fortuner and the Hilux.

The day I spent driving the Fortuner GR-Sport and making TikToks with the Hilux GR-Sport was an “aweXome” way to end October and a really “GReat” way to welcome in my birth month!

The new GR-S models will be available in all TMP dealerships nationwide starting 3 November.

For more information and more motoring-related TikToks and content, do follow this columnist @TheXeres everywhere.

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