Toyota Fortuner: Unparalleled presence with performance to match
India is not a country you generally make up time in when behind the wheel. No, I am not going to pull out the age-old ‘we don’t have good roads’ card because I know for a fact that we do, especially if you go hunting for them. But India is a country infested with unruly traffic, and the quickest way to cut your way through a jam is behind the wheel of a big, burly SUV such as the Toyota Fortuner. And if it is a white one with a flag on the bonnet, you’re guaranteed to reach home ten minutes earlier than you would have in something much more expensive or faster. Hashim and Hisham EKP clearly wanted to widen that margin, and that is why the twin brothers have tuned up their Toyota Fortuner.
The souped-up SUV is one of the two examples owned by the twins (check out their Instagram @racing_twins) who are hardcore enthusiasts, having raced in the Etios Motor Racing Championship with great success. The duo did not lack for fast cars either, and now they’ve gone and turned their daily workhorse into a much faster machine with performance on par with larger luxury SUVs!
The backbone of the Fortuner’s popularity has always been its bulletproof reliability. You could put in thousands of kilometres on the clocks of the SUV and yet it would continue to feel as robust as it felt when it first left the dealership brand new. That fact itself made the proven 2.8-litre turbo-diesel a great base to start off from, and Hisham hasn’t looked back since. Hisham initially fitted a diesel tuning box to bump up the power, but the box itself posed issues with the reliability of the SUV. As a result, Hisham decided to go the whole hog and upgraded several components of the engine, kicking off this comprehensive build.
DB Motorsports in Bangalore was called upon to source components for the engine and the performance modifications, and they came through massively. The engine now breathes better, courtesy of parts such as the intercooler, air filter piping, the headers and the downpipe being custom-made, while Balaji from DB Motorsports helped source several important components. These included a hybrid turbocharger and upgraded pistons imported from Thailand, as aftermarket parts for Japanese marques such as Honda and Toyota are easily available there. DB Motorsports also created a custom ECU remap for the Fortuner and the result of all these juicy performance upgrades is a 60bhp gain over the stock Fortuner’s power outputs, with Hisham’s Fortuner now producing 260bhp of power.
There’s a fruitier sounding HKS exhaust fitted too, which is 12kg lighter compared to the stock unit and the reduction in unsprung weight definitely adds to the Fortuner’s improved performance. Hisham mentions that they have actually held back when it comes to bumping up the power as this particular Fortuner gets the automatic transmission and upping the power to more than 260bhp would need significant upgrades to the transmission for it to handle all that power reliably. However, he does mention that a manual transmission-equipped Fortuner, which the brothers have modified similarly, is capable of producing 350bhp!
All that additional power being produced also means that the brakes of the Fortuner needed beefing up too, and that is why, Hisham has gone and installed a big brake kit from Wilwood, along with the Nextzer Pro pads and braided brake lines. The brake booster too has been swapped for an OE unit from a 2022 Fortuner and the upgrades ensure that this tuned specimen stops on a dime despite pushing out more power.
Hisham has even gone and made the big, burly SUV look more badass than before. A stock Fortuner by itself commands respect on the road like few other vehicles, more so if it’s white with a flag up front, but Hisham’s tuned beast is devoid of bling and has been painted in a very tasteful shade called Kaikoura Stone, like what you would find on a Range Rover Velar. The body kit is a straight lift from the Fortuner Legender and the SUV towers over traffic with ease, thanks to the ARB Old Man Emu suspension along with a 2-inch lift kit and the beefier 18-inch Black Rhino alloy wheels.
The butchness makes way for tranquility and comfort on the inside however, with an interior festooned by Nappa leather and creature comforts to make the passengers feel super- chilled out when being hustled along.
Right from its introduction, the Fortuner has been all about the sheer power that it exuded, so much so that it even became a part of the SUV’s marketing slogans – remember those 'Art of Power' print ads?. In tuned form though, this Fortuner turns that dial up to eleven, now being its baddest (read best) avatar. No one would dare mess with you even in our unruly traffic conditions, and if you pulled up at the block in one of these, there’s no doubt that the respect you command would be absolutely sick.