The MAX 3 Troopy is constructed by taking a new Toyota Land Cruiser 79 4.5D-4D LX V8, stripping everything but the chassis and steering column, and rebuilding an armour-plated structure back onto the frame to get it to B6 protection level.
This withstands bullets from assault rifles like the AK47.
The engine remains standard – putting out 151kW and 430Nm – while the suspension, wheels and tyres, and rear anti-roll bar are replaced with SVI-approved equipment.
The SVI MAX 3 Troopy has a South African starting price of R1.8 million excl. VAT, and final prices will depend on the configuration selected and the base Land Cruiser 79 used.
Driving the Troopy
SVI was kind enough to let TopAuto take a spin in the MAX 3 Troopy – but don’t think this models was built for journalist test drives and glamorous photoshoots.
It already has a buyer and very serious work environment waiting for it – and we had to get special permission from its owner for the test drive around SVI’s in-house track.
The SVI engineer that showed me the ins-and-outs of the Troopy let me know that “it makes sense in the veld”. Needless to say, he was not wrong.
He said that while it’s perfectly suited to go on the road, it’s not the Troopy’s natural habitat – and its driving dynamics do not match that of a bulletproof bakkie.
The gates to the in-house track swung open at that moment, and we were at the starting line.
The Troopy’s drivetrain is a stock Toyota unit, so shifting into first gear felt as if you were standing at a robot in a stock Land Cruiser 79.
The gear glided into place as easily as on any manual bakkie, and the pull-away was smooth and unburdened. You almost don’t even notice you’re dragging along an extra 2,000kg above the standard 79’s weight.
We drove through several deep ruts and high hills, with most being a few metres from the bottom to the top, and the MAX 3 didn’t break a sweat.
Its engine dutifully provided enough pulling power for the inclines, and stopping power for the declines.
After a careful first lap, the engineer let me know that this armoured vehicle had much more to it.
He yelled: “The poachers are up ahead, step on it!”.
The speedometer went 30km/h, 40km/h… 50km/h on a dirt road spanning about 200m, and the MAX 3 still had a lot of go.
Around corners, however, the Troopy made even more sense.
At the end of the straight a 90-degree corner was coming up, and the Troopy whipped around it easily. The agility and pace of this vehicle was astounding, especially for its size.
I was encouraged to go as fast as I dared around various sharp corners and long bends – and on the longest dirt straight I reached 55km/h.
This was impressive, considering I was being cautious with my driving and the vehicle is large enough to carry eight troops in the back.
Built for strength and comfort
Due to the long suspension travel and high ground clearance, two necessary traits for this vehicle’s working environments, you would think that the outer wheels are in the air when you are going around a gravel corner at speed – it certainly feels that way.
They are not, though, as the body is leaning quite far while the wheels are glued to the ground.
On the inside, it is as luxurious as a military vehicle can be.
The original Toyota front seats are still there, with the original dashboard to go along with them. There is no AM/FM radio, but aircon for the front and rear passengers is fitted, along with several buttons for its various abilities – such as creating a moving spotlight by switching on three strong LED light bars on top of the roof.
The rear is then a square metal cabin with seats bolted to each wall, and a hard-wearing rubber floor for ultimate utility.
With each lap around the track the MAX 3 Troopy inspired more confidence by showing off its impressive abilities – and each corner, bump, and rut was conquered faster and better than before.
Its steering is incredibly light, but still direct; the suspension is soft, but perfectly suited for its purpose; and it looks damn cool.