The Mark II Grande is one of the cars I have driven that picks up speed very fast the moment you step on the accelerator. It is a heavy car and this gives it more stability when driving at relatively high speeds especially on highways. Its stability is also improved by the fact that its tyres tend to increase its grip so that it doesn’t easily skid.
Apart from being a speed merchant, the Grande also passes as a luxurious car.
It has comfortable seats and the fact that it is long means it also gives you enough interior space. The driver and co-driver can stretch their legs and still have more space to themselves, while the rear passengers will also sit comfortably and disembark from the car without feeling any knee joint pains.
One of the downsides of the car is that it has low ground clearance. This means that you have to drive very cautiously along potholed murram and bumpy roads and road humps to avoid damaging parts beneath the car.
Because of this factor, the car tends to dictate how and where you drive and where you may even live. If you are a reckless motorist, be ready to foot bumper repair costs. Its low ground clearance also makes it more of an urban car.
I have driven the Mark II Grande for four years now and I cannot ask for any other Toyota saloon other than the Grande. The unfortunate bit is that the production of this car stopped and enthusiasts of this car have to look elsewhere. It is a high performance car built with an averagely smaller engine.
Among the Toyota Saloons, its performance can be equated to that of a Toyota Mark X.
The difference is in the engine consumption, size and shape.
On a highway, it gives me 10 to 14 kilometres per litre of fuel and six to 10 kilometres per litre of petrol for city rounds because of slow moving traffic using its 2000cc engine capacity. When I fill the tank of 70 litres, I can comfortably drive to Mbarara without need to refuel, except when I am making a return journey.
I normally spend Shs300,000 to replace engine oil, spark plugs, oil, air and fuel filters, transmission oil, brake pads and a few other parts. It is on rare occasions that I spend more when I need to overhaul the engine and replace the tyres where I spend as much as Shs1m.
If you want this car to serve you longer, you have to always check out its fuel filter and air cleaner.
Your fuel gauge does not have to reach the red line before you refuel again. If you do, it will cause damage to the fuel filter.
And if you do not regularly replace the air cleaner, your engine will take in dirty air and it will affect the engine performance, causing it to drag however much you accelerate. It is a car whose diagnosis can easily be done by just listening to the engine sound.
The Mark II Grande is a car whose driving comfort is satisfactory if you are the kind of motorist who loves comfort. Its cushions are soft, just like the steering wheel that is easy to turn.
My particular Grande has large storage pockets on every door and when I have to work to carry home, I can easily carry many files.
The downside I have with the Grande is that it is a long car.
It is challenging to park in a small street parking slot or even at home if you do not have enough parking space.
If you have not mastered reverse parking, the Grande can fail you because it has no rear view camera or sensors to alert you of obstacles behind the car. It is also challenging to negotiate a tight corner because of the car length. If you are no careful, you might end up breaking the headlights against obstacles.
It also has a shiny wooden dashboard that makes its interior beautiful and stylish.
The challenge however is in maintaining the wooden section if you do not use the right cleaning detergents. Apart from the dashboard, I bought the car three years ago with cotton coated seat material that could easily absorb dirt. Unless you buy leather seat covers that are easy to clean, you will not enjoy the car interior.
I live at Kanyanya and work in Kampala city centre and I use Shs130,000 on fuel every week. I find it fair and affordable given the fact that traffic jam is unpredictable especially during rush hours.
The slower the traffic, the more fuel I use.
Apart from fuel, I service the car once in four or five months but it all depends on the mileage covered.
Sometimes I cover the recommended mileage in a short time and have to visit the garage sooner rather than later. Even then, I spend Shs250,000 on minor service. There are some repairs such as scratches and dents inflicted by inconsiderate motorcyclists that I cannot wait for the next garage visit. They make the car look ugly and uncomfortable to drive.
Average spend. Robert Kakuru spends Shs300,000 to replace engine oil, spark plugs, oil, air and fuel filters, transmission oil, brake pads and a few other parts when his Grande is due for service.