Motoring | Motoring News
Nineteen-twenty-five was a year deeply ensconced within the decade known as the “Roaring Twenties”. From an automotive standpoint, it saw the founding of the Chrysler Corporation, Sir Malcolm Campbell becoming the first person to crack 150 mph (240km/h) and more importantly, the introduction of a new type of vehicle, the pick-up truck.
Initially nothing more than a Ford Model T with a wooden loadbox, the foundation was literally laid for a vehicle which has morphed over the last 95 years from a hardworking workhorse, into a capable “work-hard, play-hard” all-rounder.
Regardless of which reference you use to describe it; pick-up, ute or simply truck, it has become an institution and none more so than in South Africa where the term bakkie is not only edged into people’s vocabulary, but also part of our landscape and culture.
A segment dominated by the Toyota Hilux with opposition coming from the Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max, matters are of course different elsewhere in the world where models, unlikely to be offered for sale in South Africa, rule the roost.
In celebration of the bakkie’s 95th birthday therefore, The Citizen Motoring will be looking at twelve models currently not available or destined for the local market that would be nice additions or alternatives to the Big Three, as well as the Fiat Fullback, GWM Steed, JMC Boarding and Vigus, Mahindra Bolero and Pik-up, Mazda BT-50, Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan NP200, NP300 Hardbody and Navara, Toyota Land Cruiser and Volkswagen Amarok.
Easily one of the most enquired bakkies in recent years, the Saveiro has been a Latin American market staple since being introduced in 1982 using the same underpinnings as the Gol hatch.
In its current form, the half-tonner comes in single, extended or double cab bodystyles with a choice of two 1.6-litre engines capable of running on petrol or ethanol; the standard eight-valve that produces 74 kW or 77 kW depending on the fuel used and the more powerful 16V that delivers 81 kW or 88 kW. The sole transmission option is a five-speed manual.
Undoubtedly the ideal rival for the NP200 that has been the sole half-ton offering available since the Chevrolet Utility went out of production three years ago following the withdrawal of General Motors, the Saveiro has consistently been ruled out by Volkswagen South Africa with the biggest stumbling block being the lack of right-hand-drive availability.
Given Wolfsburg’s local market history though and likely success achievable, it remains to be seen whether a business case can be drawn-up in the coming years for the Saveiro to become available in RHD.
The best-selling nameplate in the world and in the United States for close to four decades, it would be hard to ignore the F-150 as the dream bakkie (or should that be truck?) for many Blue Oval fans keen on stepping up from the Ranger.
Currently in its 15th generation, the F-150 is sold in single, Super and Crew Cab configurations with power coming from a choice of six engines; a normally aspirated 216kW/359Nm 3.3-litre V6, a 2.7 EcoBoost V6 pumping out 240kW/542Nm, the bigger 3.5 EcoBoost bent-six with 276kW/637Nm and a free-breathing 5.0-litre V8 that produces 290kW/542Nm.
At the other end of the spectrum is the 3.0 Powerstroke V6 turbodiesel that makes 184kW/597Nm and a 331kW/691Nm version of the 3.5 EcoBoost that powers the all-conquering F-150 Raptor. In all models, the standard transmission is a ten-speed automatic co-developed with General Motors.
Soon to receive a facelift in the United States, the mostly aluminium bodied F-150 is unlikely to come to South Africa, although recent reports from Australia has alleged that right-hand-drive could become a reality for the 16th generation expected in the next two years.
Another unique to South America model, the polarising Toro represents Fiat’s second tier bakkie behind the Strada. The Italian automaker defines it as a sport utility pick-up that combines the “size, height and ergonomics of a SUV, robustness of an off-road vehicle and comfort of a car” with the “practicality and space of a double cab four-door pick-up”.
On sale since 2016 and equipped with a novel barn-door split rear tailgate, the Toro is powered by a 1.8 E.torQ flex-fuel engine that makes 99kW/184Nm or 104kW/189Nm when fuelled by ethanol, a 2.4-litre Tigershark petrol pumping out 130kW/230Nm or 139kW/244Nm and a 2.0-litre Multijet turbodiesel that delivers 125kW/350Nm.
Available with four-wheel-drive on the diesel only, the E.torQ powered Toro comes standard with six-speed automatic gearbox with the Tigershark utilising a nine-speed box, while the oil-burner comes equipped with a six-speed manual on lower-spec models and the mentioned nine-speeder on the flagship Volcano.
With principle rival Renault set to bring the Duster Oroch to South Africa next year, the Toro would be an interesting inclusion, but like the Saveiro, it is currently a left-hand-drive only model.
Reviving a name last used in 1987, the Gladiator is also the first open deck Jeep since the XJ Cherokee-based Comanche ended production 28 years ago, and the current smallest bakkie within Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) line-up.
Measuring 492 mm longer than the Wrangler but still featuring the removable hard-or-soft-top roof, doors and folding windscreen, the Gladiator has a claimed, wading depth of 762 m and two four-wheel-drive systems; the standard on-demand Command-Trac 4×4 and on the top-spec Rubicon, the Rock-Trac with a Tru-Lok locking differential.
In all markets, a choice of three engines are provided; the stalwart 3.6 Pentastar V6 that makes 213kW/353Nm in the United States and 210kW/347Nm elsewhere, and the 3.0 CRD turbodiesel known in the States as the EcoDiesel that punches out 190kW/600Nm. Aside from the six-speed manual box that is limited to the US, the only other option is an eight-speed automatic.
Realistically on the cards for South Africa on account of already being on sale in the United Kingdom and with the Wrangler also on local shores, it remains to be seen whether the local arm of FCA will make the Gladiator available this year or even in 2021.
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