By Theodore Opara
UNLIKE in the past when the award of Nigeria mini bus of the year used to be a smooth sail for the Toyota Hiace, the 2016 mini bus of the year award was keenly contested by the Hiace, Nissan Urvan and Mercedes Sprinter. The Hiace’s many decades of reliability, ease of maintenance and durability gave it the award at the prestigious Eko Hotel late last month,.
For close to three decades, the Toyota Hiace commuter has ruled its segment despite stiff competition from its Japanese rival, the Nissan Urvan and many Chinese models. But the Hiace had left the Chinese models behind and its man contender currently is the Mercedes Sprinter bus.
Toyota Hiace for this long, has been cloned, especially by the Chinese auto makers but none had matched its quality, safety, comfort, reliability and overall performance. Brand by brand, the Hiace accounts for the highest number of buses on Nigerian roads in its segment. Though, there are many versions of the look-alike Hiace models but they are from different makers, especially the Chinese.
Oftentimes, most transporters had attempted to use these and other models from competing brands but ended up hurting their business by disappointing their customers. They had to return to Hiace quickly because of their customers preference for Toyota Hiace reliability.
The question, however, is what is the secret of Toyota Hiace success over these decades? The good thing about Toyota Motor Corporation is that they have realised that remaining at the top over a long period of time requires continuous improvement, hence the transformation of the Hiace over the years, like other Toyota models. With two body styles and dimensions including the wide and super long body, and long body, Toyota knew that its customers have insatiable taste, which it must meet.
Toyota therefore raised the bar further by introducing the luxury version of the Hiace which it targets at people who want to travel in top-class luxury. Configure to give more comfort, space,with best in-class legroom, and headroom the luxury version of the Hiace has no rivalry in its segment. The Hiace combines functionally elegant design with a complete range of practical and convenient on-board cabin appointments. Whether for business or pleasure, it offers every person abroad a comfortable side for the duration of the journey. Hence it is the preferred brand for transporters all over the country.
Powered by a 2.7-litre gasoline engine, for the Nigerian market, which offers a superb balance of performance and economy, the Hiace is available with either manual or automatic transmission. The manual transmission has been tuned for optimum shifting ease, while the automatic transmission features electronic control for smooth, natural response.
Ruggedly built for years of reliable service, Hiace has proved itself on the roads around the country. Designed to be tough and durable from the ground up, its dependability remains legendary among its competitors.
Hiace stronghold on the road comes from its suspension. A front double-wishbone torsion bar spring suspension provides optimised straight line stability, ride comfort and versatile load-carrying capacity. Reliability and lasting valve of Hiace cannot be compared with any bus in its class. Starting from the corrosion-resistant materials used in key areas throughout the vehicles to the rigid body with minimal transmission of vibration to the cabin, the Toyota Hiace leaves no one in doubt as to why it has remained the benchmark in its class.
Inside, the Hiace boasts a well designed and inviting cabin. The Hiace provides comfortable seating made with high quality materials for 16 passengers. With an air conditioning system and seatbelts for all. It also incorporates both active and passive measures to help protect the driver and passengers.
From the excellent visibility that contributes to collision avoidance to crumple zone construction that helps minimise collision damage, the Toyota offers class-leading safety features.