The Toyota family doesn’t need another Fortuner or Hilux variant – it’s already raking cash from the two trucks, benefiting from the fact that both are at top of mind whenever a debate about the best in class comes up.

Of course, Toyota Motor Philippines has other plans in mind. Building from the popularity that these two have in the local market, the country’s number one car brand introduced the Fortuner GR-Sport and Hilux GR-Sport – the newest member of the Gazoo Racing family, expanding the automaker’s portfolio of souped-up models right out of Toyota dealerships.

Not because the market needs another pair of top-spec variants; it’s just because the company can.

So much so that the Fortuner GR-S and Hilux GR-S are priced steeply, having people already raising eyebrows even without bothering to know what’s actually new with the couple. It’s the automaker’s proverbial middle finger, so to speak, because competitive pricing is only a must when you aren’t doing great, right?

At P2,509,000 for the Fortuner GR-S in its sole, two-tone color option, and P1,985,000 for the Hilux GR-S (P2,005,000 for the flagship Emotional Red), aren’t these two a pair? 

In fact, they are – a pair of the most expensive versions of themselves… and within their respective segments. Those aren’t just badge pricing, mind you. They come with a heft of upgrades, inside and out, and most importantly, even in terms of tuning.

Visually, it’s easy to tell the differences between the Fortuner LTD and GR-S, and between the Hilux Conquest and GR-S. Apart from the ever-so-present GR badges front and back, the GR models come with differently-styled bumpers, along with other accents altered in color. It’s just a mix and match between color-keyed and blacked-out garnishings, though they both come with red GR-branded brake calipers to highlight the shoes.

Some might say that both are a bit overdressed, but if simple styling is what you’re aiming for, you’re looking at the wrong end of the range.

The Hilux, however, comes with a bonus – the Toyota wordmark on the grille stands out in the Hilux lineup. You probably know what Toyota was going for with this model, right?

Inside, things are a bit more serious, especially for the Fortuner. While the previous top-spec LTD comes with unapologetic maroon trimmings in the cabin, the GR-S version does away with the contrasting hues. It does, however, come with maroon stitches to highlight sportiness, while matte carbon-fiber prints populate the center console and smoked silver metallic trims complete the highlights in the cabin. The former looks gaudy, unfortunately. Good thing, the suede-and-leather seat combo up to the second row is a thrill, adding a tad touch of premium into the mix.

The Hilux GR-S adopts the suede-leather seats as well, but it’s more significant with the truck since the former top-spec Conquest variants only come with fabric upholstery. The most notable addition in the cabin would be the updated infotainment system, now nicely integrated into the dashboard. It also comes with a 360-degree-view monitor, following what its competitors have in the market these days. These updates are also available in the Conquest trims, by the way.

Now, the most crucial part: performance. On this end, there isn’t anything new for the Fortuner GR-S and Hilux GR-S, at least in the engine department. Not that they need the uptune, mind you; both still come with the latest tune of the 1GD-FTV mill that makes up to 201hp and 500Nm – numbers that still trump over their respective segments.

And they felt that way, too. The Fortuner and Hilux, even before the GR-S treatment, are many things but they aren’t slackers. In my recent short encounter with the GR-S pair, power was still easily accessible, always has been, to a fault sometimes as I needed to ease up on my foot for a more civilized cruise. Brakes did bite hard, too. Again, to a fault sometimes as finding a smoother way to halt was a bit of a challenge. I just wish that Toyota could finally drop the drums at the rear of the Hilux.

But the most notable update in oily bits is the monotube shock absorbers added on each corner of each car. They didn’t magically turn the trucks into comfortable cruisers that people wanted them to be, mind you. The difference in ride quality from before wasn’t night and day, but it felt more forgiving than ever.

Now, do these cars deserve the GR badging? Maybe, and with the way Toyota has been positioning the Gazoo Racing brand globally, it isn’t hard to understand where the marque is headed to in terms of its special vehicles.

But the truth is, you won’t buy the Fortuner GR-S or the Hilux GR-S because you need them or because they are the best choices in the market. You’re buying them because you can, and what better way to show self-gratification. A well-deserved one, at that.

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