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Secrets of the Toyota GR HiLux explored: Game-changing diesel V6, launch timing and everything else we know so far

We put our detective hats on about the new GR HiLux.

Toyota might be keeping tight-lipped about the incoming GR HiLux, but no secret can ever be kept completely under wraps.

And so CarsGuide has grabbed its detective cap and its Sherlock Holmes pipe to bring you everything we think we know about the Japanese giant's incoming Ford Ranger Raptor rival.

It's definitely coming

Toyota would reach into the after-market goodie bag for a GR HiLux. Toyota would reach into the after-market goodie bag for a GR HiLux.

Talk of the GR HiLux dates back to at least 2018, when the company's executives began mentioning their want for a hardcore HiLux to rattle the dominant Ranger Raptor.

In fact, in 2018, Toyota went on the record as saying it would be looking for a "big diesel" to power a go-fast HiLux, suggesting a petrol engine - like the V6 it would eventually axe through lack of interest - wouldn't cut in a GR model.

Then again, this time in 2019, Toyota locally confirmed how much they want it, with an Australian spokesperson telling CarsGuide: “GR is starting off on the passenger side of things, but there’s an appetite in other markets, so it could go across to vehicles like the HiLux. For us to offer any sort of GR HiLux, a noticeable performance would be ideal."

Then in July 2019, a breakthrough - Gazoo Racing president Shigeki Tomoyama telling media attending the 24 Hours of Le Mans - that he wanted a road-going performance HiLux bred off the brand's Dakar winner.

“We won Dakar first with HiLux as Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa,” he said. "We would like to realise the actual product of Gazoo Racing. Dakar is one of the stages to realise that. A racing HiLux and a customer commercial product.”

But the real icing on the confirmation cake came that same month when, following those comments, Toyota applied to trademark the "GR HiLux" nameplate in Australia and around the world, lodging the application in July 2019, with approval granted on February 18 2020.

So piecing those facts together, where saying a go-fast HiLux is a case of when, not if.

It will likely get a booming 3.3-litre V6 diesel

Toyota went on the record as saying it would be looking for a "big diesel" to power a go-fast HiLux. Toyota went on the record as saying it would be looking for a "big diesel" to power a go-fast HiLux.

Remember that 2018 mention of the GR HiLux we mentioned above? It was particularly interesting, because it was the first time Toyota mentioned what engine would need to be powering a go-fast version of its workhorse.

A petrol engine wouldn't cut it, they said, and nor would an existing diesel. Instead, they would need a "big diesel", which had us all head-scratching, be cause such an engine simply didn't exist.

But it does now. Heavy rumours in Japan suggest the new Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series will be fitted with, you guessed it, a thumping 3.3-litre diesel V6 expected to produce in excess of 200kW and 650Nm.

CarsGuide understands the engine is all new for Toyota, and will find its way into other products in the brand's stable. One of those products will surely be the GR HiLux, and when it does, the whopping 650Nm should see it out-box just about anything else on the market.

It won't just be the engine, either. Remember, vehicles like the Tacoma and Sequoia TRD Pro are fitted with after-market bonuses like Fox Shocks, so is stands to reason that Toyota would reach into the after-market goodie bag for a GR HiLux, too.

Either way, it will deliver a "noticeable" increase in performance, with Toyota being very clear on that being a minimum requirement for any vehicle that wears its go-fast badge.

“The plan for us is that any product that comes into Australia with Gazoo-racing branding will primarily be focused on performance. It needs to be the full package. It needs to show a noticeable performance increase on our standard line-up,” a spokesperson told CarsGuide in the past.

“We will definitely put our hands up for anything that becomes available. And we will fight very hard for it."

It likely won't be here until 2023

The current-gen car is now racing towards an all-new model. The current-gen car is now racing towards an all-new model.

Now for the bad news. CarsGuide understands a true GR-branded HiLux (not the GR Parts special edition pictured above) is unlikely to arrive in this generation of HiLux, which means we could be waiting until 2023 before seeing what the Japanese brand is truly capable of with a go-fast workhorse.

There are a couple of reasons. For one, the HiLux was just overhauled, with more power and more tech, and a GR model wasn't among the changes. The current-gen car is now racing towards an all-new model, which means the development changes required for a GR model would be essentially superseded by the new model within 18 - 24 months of it going on sale.

Next, Toyota itself says a GR HiLux isn't on the radar at the present time, with Mr Hanley saying: “we don’t have that on the radar.”

"In Australia there's definitely a market for performance cars, there's no doubt about that," he said. "Whatever GR product might come available, we'll analyse that product to assess its suitability for our market. But we don't have (a GR HiLux) on the radar."