LONDON – When it comes to modified bakkies built to conquer just about anything, Arctic Trucks requires no introduction. The outfit has been creating expedition-ready vehicles with massive tyres and off-road suspensions for three decades now and it is perhaps best known for creating a Hilux that became the first vehicle to reach the Magnetic North Pole.
Now the custom truck builder has unveiled a new version of its AT35 Hilux, which is based on the recently facelifted Hilux. Featuring extensive chassis and design upgrades, the new AT35 has gone on sale in Europe.
The revised AT35 is based on the European-spec Hilux Invincible X 2.8 double cab, which has similar styling to South Africa’s Legend models.
The vehicle gains many new and updated features, including changes that increase its running ground clearance by 65mm and its approach and departure angles by nine and three degrees respectively.
This is no ordinary double cab Hilux – Arctic Trucks re-engineered the vehicle’s frame, inner arches and bodywork, and rounded it off with 17-inch Arctic Trucks alloys with 35-inch BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain tyres.
Furthermore, the Arctic Trucks Bilstein performance suspension system, featuring front springs and dampers, anti-roll bar adjustment and rear dampers with extended shackles, has been updated, producing an extra 40mm of front and 20mm of rear suspension lift. Torque and drivability are also optimised through the re-gearing of the front and rear differentials.
But what really makes it stand out to passersby is the signature flare package for the front and rear wings, as well as its extended-profile side steps, AT35 badging and a 30th anniversary decal.
The upgraded AT35 is now more practical in the rough too, thanks to a rear height bar with an integrated two-inch receiver hitch for quick and easy deployment of tow balls, winches, steps, gear carriers and other accessories.
Talking accessories, Arctic Trucks also offers a wide range of options, including full underbody armour, Vision X grille-mounted light bar and Truxedo low-profile load cover. The tyre specification can be upgraded to BFGoodrich KM3 Mud-Terrain tyres and an on-board inflation/deflation kit can be installed, with a 12V performance compressor mounted in the engine bay.
There aren’t any performance upgrades to speak of here, but being based on the facelifted Hilux it does benefit from the recent upgrades that Toyota made to its 2.8 GD-6 turbodiesel engine, which now produces 150kW and 500N.
The AT36 conversion is priced at £18 780 plus VAT in the UK, which equated to around R385 000 at the time of writing. Because this is a Toyota-approved conversion, the vehicle also retains its factory warranty.
Toyota South Africa Motors says it can’t comment on whether the AT35 will ever become available locally as the company no longer has any formal link with Arctic Trucks.