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Updated: Toyota sets new record as Hilux, Starlet undergo Smokin Hills test drive



Although Toyota is a household name and a leading auto brand, it is often seen to shy away from test drive, especially in Nigeria.

But that notion no longer holds sway as Toyota Nigeria Limited last weekend released two of its models, the Hilux and all-new Starlet, for a comprehensive test drive at Ilara-Mokin, the hometown of the company’s chairman, Chief Michael Ade.Ojo, which is some 20-minute drive from Akure, Ondo State capital.

While the new generation Starlet, launched in Lagos some days earlier, was taken through an on-road race course, where the vehicle was indeed ‘flogged’ and made to undertake a lot of cornering, speeding through bumpy and flooded terrains, the Hilux went through a deeper off-road exposure of hilly, sloppy, rocky and muddy terrains where kids are strictly disallowed from riding along.

It was a two-day event with each model having a separate day and professional race drivers had the task of taking Toyota customers and enthusiasts including journalists through the terrains a number of times so they could have a total experience.

Some daring, experienced and brave drivers, including Newstrends editor also had time to drive the vehicles along the Smokin Hills race course.

Managing Director, Toyota Nigeria, Mr Kunle Ade-Ojo, represented at the event by the Head of Marketing at the TNL, Mr Andrew Ajuyah, said the main objective of releasing the Starlet for the test drive was to bring the vehicle to the doorsteps of customers, “offering you the opportunity to interact with the vehicle, get familiar with its features, ask questions as it relates to the vehicle and have a fun-filled day with us.”

He also said, “It is the latest on the stable of Toyota (Nigeria) Limited and the Starlet is a true Star in every sense of the word. It is a mini-subcompact SUV imbued with the Toyota DNA of quality, durability, reliability and style.”

Speaking on the Hilux Fleet Day, the TNL boss explained why the vehicle (Hilux) is described as a workhorse and a darling of many Nigerians.

He said, “The Hilux as you all know is a workhorse. This apt description of the Hilux is based on the fact that the vehicle responds to the dictates of the road no matter how rough. It glides as it takes on some of the most challenging terrains headlong.  Indeed, the vehicle which is also described as Beyond Tough for its mastery of inclement terrains stands above its peers in that segment. Little wonder it is the darling of many Nigerians.”

Marketing Manager, TNL, Mr Bayo Olawoyin, provided the detailed features of the 1.4 litre Starlet and the 2.7-litre Hilux released for the test drive on Friday and Saturday respectively.

A prominent professional racer at the event, Argo Raak, who noted that it was his first time of driving the Starlet, described it as a fantastic car for city cruise, adding, “It may not be advisable to take it for state-to-state trips for now; Hilux is ideal for that. It is not that the car cannot do it but not really ideal for a rough terrain.

He also spoke on the performance and quality of the Starlet, saying, “The best quality of the car is its fuel economy. I also enjoy the handling; it’s very soft and enhances the driving.

“It is one of the rare cars that give you an opportunity to view everywhere and everything when you are around the steering; no blind spot and I can press all the buttons. It is a car for me and my madam; it can go places where my truck cannot go.”

Angela Idiong, Business Development Manager at RT Briscoe, commenting on the Hilux performance at the event said, “The vehicle is rugged and one can use it for private family ride (on road) or official taking it to project sites (off road). Even in remotest place, Hilux will go there and pull through. Its parts are available and easy to fix should it break down. Its fuel efficiency is also superb.

“It’s a vehicle that you can easily find a good buyer even after using it for 25 years.”

Adeoye Ojuoko, founder of Work and Play (motorsport), who is the brain behind the test drive project, said the event was sponsored by Toyota Nigeria Limited.

He noted that Hilux test drive had shown how people could engage the two-wheel drive or L2 to do a lot more than they thought.

Ojuoko also spoke on the choice of Ilara-Mokin for the event.

He said, “We are doing off-road rally at the Smokin Hill, Ilara-Mokin because of the terrain and we are building track there with the support of Chief Ade.Ojo.

“We are trying to look at the idea of creating a good environment for motorsport events as well as test drives. “One major thing the automobile industry in Nigeria lacks is an avenue or a centre to compare the performance of different brands of vehicles.”

He expressed optimism that the event would spur other automakers and dealers to take part in future motorsport programmes.

“What we are doing is not for Toyota alone; what we have built is for other brands and dealerships too. They will be given the opportunity for their customers to test drive available and new vehicles and engage them well in what they are doing,” Ojuoko said.

He said he was satisfied with the outcome of the programme, which attracted visitors from Ondo, Lagos and Abuja, among others.

“It has become a passion for me; it started from my hometown, Ilara-Mokin with the support of Chief Ade-Ojo; and it is growing,” he said.


Toyota-Suzuki joint SUV coming in August, Africa listed



The collaboration between Toyota and Suzuki is set to manifest in concrete terms as Toyota says it will start the production of a new SUV model developed by Suzuki at Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd from August.

The Suzuki-developed SUV will come with mild and strong hybrid variants – made in India for both brands, multiple sources including report.

The two companies are said to be planning to export the new model to markets outside India including Africa.

Toyota and Suzuki are promoting mutual supply of vehicles globally, which is one of the collaborations in their business partnership.
The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding for a business alliance in 2017. Since then, the two companies have been bringing together Toyota’s strength in electrification technologies and Suzuki’s strength in technologies for compact vehicles for joint collaboration in production and in the widespread popularization of electrified vehicles.
The powertrains of the new model to be on sale in India will be equipped with mild hybrid developed by Suzuki and strong hybrid developed by Toyota.
By bringing together strengths of both Toyota and Suzuki through the collaboration, the two companies say they will be able to provide a wide variety of vehicle electrification technologies to customers and contribute to the acceleration of electrification and the realization of a carbon-neutral society in India.

While Suzuki leads and understands the India market, Toyota brings hybrid tech to the table.

Maruti Suzuki India Limited and TKM will market the new model in India as Suzuki and Toyota models, respectively.

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Ford to end production of Focus in 2025



Ford has confirmed that it will stop producing the Focus model in 2025, in a move that threatens the longer-term future of its Saarlouis, Germany plant that only makes that model.

Nigeria may not miss the exit of the Focus as it has not really been as popular as other Ford models such as the Escape, the Edge and Everest.

Ford however said that its plant in Saarlouis would continue to produce the Ford Focus passenger car, while the company is also evaluating options for future site concepts.
In Europe, Ford has emphasised the future role for electrified models – which includes its Cologne plant in Germany being a hub for EV production. It will build a new SUV based on VW’s MEB platform from 2023.
Ford also recently announced that its Valencia, Spain, plant would receive investment for making electric vehicles on a next-generation electric vehicle architecture.


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Coscharis offers Renault customers N150,000 free service, flexible finance scheme



Coscharis Motors Plc has announced a free service voucher worth N150,000  for every Renault vehicle purchased from the company.

The auto firm is the sole representative of the Renault brand in Nigeria.

Making the announcement during the recently concluded Lagos Motor Fair, the General Manager, Renault Sales, Coscharis Motors, Sola Adigun, said, “We want to use the opportunity of our presence at this motor fair to announce to our customers and prospects that we will be offering a free service voucher worth N150,000.00 for every Renault vehicle purchased from Coscharis Motors at this motor fair and afterwards.”

According to him, the free service voucher is one of the exciting giveaways the Renault customers stand to gain from buying a Renault vehicle from Coscharis Motors Plc.

Even as Adigun said the free service voucher offer would extend beyond the just concluded motor fair to all Coscharis showrooms across the country, he gave July 30, this year as the last day for the promo.

A statement by the auto firm also said it had arranged a finance scheme from the sister company, Coscharis Mobility, for willing customers to purchase any of their preferred Renault vehicles.

It stated that Coscharis Mobility would enable the payment for the vehicle(s) to be spread over a period of time after 30 perc ent initial deposit of the principal value.

It also quoted the General Manager, Marketing & Corporate Communications for the Coscharis Group, Abiona Babarinde, as saying, “Currently, we are still assembling two variants of the Renault brand locally at our assembly plant in Awoyaya, Lagos, namely: Logan and Duster.

“Clearly, we have the capacity to add more variants to our local assembly line and hope that the time will soon come when the infrastructural deficit in the country will improve to give conducive business environment to investors like Coscharis that still believe in our nation, Nigeria. Then, we shall gladly increase the number of locally assembled variants and probably assemble all the variants that we market in the country.

“More importantly for us is that this gives us the opportunity to deliver value to the bigger economy in terms of job employment amongst other economic advantages with the sustenance and expansion of the local assemblies across the country.”

Coscharis, it stated, offers trade-in option to customers using a Renault vehicle and intending to exchange for a new model.

It said, “Renault was one of the brands which put up an outstanding presence at the recently concluded Lagos Motor Fair. “Five variants of the brand were put on display for visitors at the fair, including Logan and Duster, which are both assembled in Nigeria. Others are Koleos, Oroch and Kwid.”

Brand Manager of Renault at Coscharis Motors, Felix Mahan, gave some details about the models in the statement.

The Koleos

The Koleos is designed with a sense of detail and personality enhanced by its sleek appearance and athletic curves.

Behind its chic urban styling, Koleos has the DNA of a true 4X4.

The ALL MODE 4×4-i technology allows you to select the transmission mode that your vehicle will need to be equally at home on dirt, mud or sand as it is on tarmac.

Koleos comes with a range of driver assistance technologies including active emergency braking, blind spot detection system, easy trunk access and R-Link 2 media system.


Customers can choose from 1.6-Litre to 2.0Litre engine but whichever engine, it is built with a robust off-roader looks. With the superb ground clearance, the Duster is a practical and durable vehicle for the Nigerian road.

The interior of the All-new Duster reflects its generous, adventure-seeking nature. The spacious cabin is bright and reassuring.

The driver and passenger seats provide plenty of support to ensure your comfort wherever you go. The upholstery features a high-quality finish, as does the dashboard, where particular emphasis was placed on ergonomic design.

Simple and intuitive, the multimedia system Media Nav with touching screen allows you to navigate through all the different functionalities: navigation, phone, radio, Aux/USB ports and Bluetooth® connection to listen to your favorite music.

It also comes with hands free card to lock and unlock the doors from a distance as well as assist to start the air-conditioning before getting into the car.


New Renault Logan has an even more modern and dynamic design. With redesigned front and rear end panels featuring the new Renault brand light signature, New Renault Logan is a beauty to behold.

New Renault Logan has five generous seats to comfortably accommodate all your passengers. Enjoy useful and smart new storage areas, including a phone pouch and a front passenger side net pouch.

There is a new 12V output in the rear for charging your devices. There’s also a 1/3-2/3* split-fold rear bench seat and a spacious boot to transport everything you need in the way that suits you. You can combine utility and pleasure for a journey you are sure to love, depending on the version.

Logan’s ground clearance level (155-164mm) enhances its capacity to cope with extremely poor road surfaces (potholes, cobbles, uneven surfaces.

The mechanics, bodywork (opening panels), air conditioning/ventilation system and passenger compartment all specially designed to cope with certain countries’ environments where dust is omnipresent. Logan has an excellent thermal comfort standard (the vehicle is designed to deal with “extremely hot” conditions.


Inside Renault Kwid, there is plenty of headroom, legroom and elbowroom for the driver plus up to four passengers.

There are ingenious storage spaces everywhere.

The Renault KWID’s class-leading boot space of 290L can be extended up to 1100L, making it the perfect partner for a long road trip.


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