Toyota Land Cruiser 200 Series: Turbo-diesel V8 sales surge as petrol-electric hybrid 300 Series nears launch

It’s starting to look like rice and toilet paper aren’t the only things being hoarded right now.

According to reports from the trade, the fact that the upcoming Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series won’t feature a V8 diesel option is driving a sales resurgence for the current 200 Series.

Specialist accessory manufacturers and four-wheel-drive workshops are all reporting a surge in interest in LandCruisers powered by the mighty 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8.

Instead of a wave of anticipation for the upcoming LandCruiser 300 Series – rumoured to be hitting showrooms around the middle of next year – the trade is seeing a lift in the popularity of the existing 200 Series and its similarly powered 70 Series stablemates.

And instead of buyers holding out for the new LandCruiser, it seems as though the existing model is a hot item right now, both in new and second-hand forms.

While the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put a hold on many businesses, one busy, outer-suburban-Melbourne workshop we spoke to reported a spike in interest in V8 LandCruisers.

“We’re definitely seeing a lot of these things (200 and 79 Series) coming through the shop,” one staffer told CarsGuide.

“People really love that V8 diesel, and they’re worried they won’t be able to get anything as good in the next model.”

That sentiment is borne out by the latest VFACTs data, which shows V8 diesel-powered versions of the Toyota are bucking the general downward sales trend.

While the first three months of this year shows the total new-vehicle market to be down 13.1 per cent compared with the period last year, Toyota’s big-hitters were a bit of a bright spot.

The workhorse 70 Series units 779 units in March, compared with 677 in February and 511 in January.

And the 200 Series variants in VFACT’s $100,000-plus category sold 1264 units in March, compared with 1162 in February and 751 units in January.

Clearly, there’s more at work here than buyer sentiment (overall consumer confidence, bushfires and COVID-19, among other factors), but compared with the Nissan Patrol over the same period (about 200 sales per month), the figures certainly don’t contradict the word on the street.

Toyota’s 4.5-litre V8 diesel was first seen here in 2007 in twin-turbo form in the 200 Series wagons and with a single turbocharger in the 79 Series workhorses.

Initially, there were concerns over design elements such as the placement of the starter motor and electronic components as well as early reports of the engine being an oil-burner.

But Toyota tackled the latter issue promptly and the engine soon built a sound reputation as well as offering the sort of towing capacity and effortlessness that smaller capacity turbo-diesels couldn’t match.

“The V8 is pretty much bulletproof, now,” admitted one mechanic. “And people are worried that whatever powers the new model (the 300 Series) won’t do the same job.”

That seems especially true for LandCruiser owners who tow, with the concern that a LandCruiser with a hybrid powertrain (as has been strongly rumoured) will, like the hybrid Camry, feature a smaller towing limit than the same vehicle with a conventional driveline.

In the Camry’s case, the hybrid can tow just 400kg (braked) versus three times that for the four-cylinder, conventionally-powered Camry.

The issue is cooling of the electric motors and it stands to be a major problem with a big, burly off-roader operating in a harsh climate.

The big accessory manufacturers are seeing the same trend and are preparing for the feeding frenzy as these concerns pull forward demand for the existing model.

ARB national sales and marketing director Matt Frost told us he was aware of the trend that was continuing despite the damage to the retail sector being wrought by COVID-19.

“It’s only my opinion, but I believe that there will be a late rush on Cruisers with the V8 turbo-diesel, particularly as the new model gets closer to launch,” he said.

“We haven’t seen the expected lift in sales of accessories for the V8 models yet, but when we do, our manufacturing flexibility will be able to cope with demand.

“But while the V8 engine option is certainly a factor, it’s worth remembering that we’ve seen a similar thing every time Toyota has updated a LandCruiser.

“I’ve been in the industry a fair while now, and I can remember customers agonising over whether to buy the current 60 Series or take a punt on the new, untried 80 Series.

“That said, I do believe that there is likely to be higher than expected demand for these V8 vehicles. Owners really do seem to love them.”