Words & Images Andrew Middleton
Like brandy & coke, biltong & rugby or braais & boerewors, South Africans and the Fortuner need each other. Whether it’s loaded to the rafters on a trip up north, or doing the school run in Constantia, this Kalahari Ferrari is as much a part of the SA roads network as potholes and crashed taxis.
Despite first having been produced in 2005, the previous-generation Fortuner continued to outsell its nearest competitor, the Ford Everest, almost 5 to 1 in the last generation’s run-out months at the end of 2015.
But, according to the accusation levelled at the latest crop of mid-size SUVs, our beloved 4×4 manufacturers are going the soft route, having realised that the majority of owners never drive over anything more mountainous than road-kill. Could this softness also be true of the 2016 Fortuner? Just to be sure, we took a topspec six-speed automatic on a pretty severe 1500km round-trip test to see if it can still take a punch.
The result? Let’s just say that, after many kilometres of low-range grinding through heavy sand, a good share of fast gravel to test the handling, some massive ruts and axle twisters, followed by hundreds of kilometres of challenging, rocky passes and little-used trails, that we damaged a few sidewalls… and nothing else.