As far back as I can remember, the original Rav4 was my first encounter with an SUV type vehicle. During the time, my growing interest in automobiles had me becoming aware of what vehicles could do, the power they possessed and how they looked. And I remember thinking “One day I will drive a blue Rav4”. Although the colour-scheme may have changed as I matured, my affinity for the Rav4 remained.
Offering me a chance to drive this popular vehicle, the team over at Imperial Toyota Kempton Park is, as always, both hospitable and professional. Headed by a strong, forward-thinking Dealer Principal, Desiree Wiseman, this dealership has a formidable team of driven and motivated leaders, thus ensuring it remains on the forefront of its trade. With fifteen years of experience in the industry, Desiree is also knowledgeable about sales, training and virtual shopping, with a host of awards credited to her leadership.
Determination and loyalty seems to be a characteristic shared by many at this dealership. Charlene Verburg, the New Vehicle Sales Manager has a backstory that firmly proves this point. Having worked through major challenges and obstacles to find her place in this industry, Charlene has spent the last eleven years nurturing a love for the brand that was sparked by her experience of the products and services she promotes.
Relationships between the various departments in any dealership remain important, and none more so than the after-sales and parts departments. In this regard, Jacques Thomas (Parts Manager) notes that it is important to remain open and honest in all your dealings with colleagues and clients so that you can continue to give of your best. Having started as a picker and packer fifteen years ago, Jacques’ love for vehicles, bikes and fast cars has inspired him to continue working towards management in this industry.
Back when I was fantasising about driving the original three-door Rav4 more than twenty years ago, I had no idea that this revolutionary vehicle would impact the SUV segment as much as it did. Now in a more refined and sophisticated generation, the Rav4 has been adapted to suit a more sleek, elegant and comfortable vision. In this way, Toyota has done a good job of creating a beautiful vehicle with great emphasis on its ability to provide comfort and convenience.
The interior is typical of Toyota – thoughtful, convenient and very nicely put together. A lot of attention has been given to a high-quality finish in general, and the infotainment system is the hub of connectivity you would expect of an SUV (although depending on variant, may need to be fleshed out from the added-extras menu). The cabin is spacious and superbly appointed in terms of comfort, even in the back, and is perfect for a family set-up.
With three engine options, (2.0 litre, 2.2 litre and 2.5 litre), the Rav4 is also available in 4×4 options which at least nods back to its off-roading ancestry. The 2.0 litre 4×2 manual derivative produces around 107 kW of power, whilst the 2.2 litre diesel (4×4) gives just a little more oomph at 110 kW. The 2.5 litre 4×4 variant is the showstopper in terms of power and produces 132 kW. Fuel consumption is decent for a vehicle of this size and capacity, ranging between 5.6 litres per 100 kms for the 2.2 litre 4×4 (diesel) and topping out at 8.5 litres per 100 kms for the bigger 2.5 litre engine.
Driving this compact SUV was both pleasant and charming, with that characteristic Toyota feeling of dependability and total acquiescence to your urging. Smooth and eager, take-off makes it feel lighter than it is, and the vehicle handles quite well around corners. Although I didn’t have a chance to take it onto more challenging terrain, I fully believe the Rav4 would be capable enough to hold its own.
Back at the dealership I am reminded of the true sense of customer satisfaction; the team at Imperial Toyota Kempton Park seem to naturally care about each other and support their colleagues in ensuring the best service is presented at all times.
For more info, follow the dealership on this link: Imperial Toyota Kempton Park
Journalist: Desh Bechan
Reporter: Inge Stols
Editor: Belinda Anders