This week Steve Cropley has been remembering what it was like to drive early Lamborghinis, wonders why he's become the agony aunt for people not ready to make the switch to electrification, and is relieved the motorway network is constantly improving. But first, some time in a sizeable Toyota pick-up.
Spent the week indulging my love of double-cab pick-ups with the daddy of the lot, the legendary Toyota Hilux, which has proved its toughness so often it’s almost boring. Chief fascination is its endearing combination of refinement and crudity. On one hand, you’ve got a comfortable, elevated driving position, a well-finished cabin full of robust equipment, mountains of torque from one of the mightiest (2.7-litre) four-pot diesels going, and a creamy six-speed auto. Tyre and bump noise are amazingly low courtesy of the Hilux’s old-tech body-on-frame construction, which insulates you almost completely from the road, and wind noise is also well contained.
Downsides include the sometimes unwieldy 5.3m length, ordinary steering and a jolting ride that results from the one-tonne carrying capacity that most owners never use. Even so, when there’s one of these in the car park, it tends to be the vehicle of choice. Spent long, entertaining periods in my Hilux eyeballing other pick-up owners, many of whom see these as lifestyle vehicles. Amazing how many seemed to come with a couple of rabid-looking mastiffs in the back as standard equipment. Made me yearn for a couple of the inflatable Alsatians allegedly popular for a while in Australia.