4WORD

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - MATT RAUDONIKIS

It’s no big news that 4x4 utes are hot prop­erty right now, as they rep­re­sent nearly 50 per cent of the top sell­ing new cars in Aus­tralia so far this year. With Ford and Holden soon to scrap their re­spec­tive Fal­co­nand Com­modore-based 2WD utes, even more buy­ers will be look­ing to the light-truck­based ve­hi­cles to dis­cover the ver­sa­til­ity that a dual-cab 4x4 ute can of­fer.

What about fac­tory hot-rod utes? Toy­ota’s TRD Hilux from 2008 wasn’t a huge suc­cess, but maybe it was ahead of its time. New ute buy­ers are lap­ping up the top-spec vari­ants, with the Ranger Wild­trak a key seller for Ford and the SR5 spec pop­u­lar for Toy­ota.

Other com­pa­nies now want in on the ac­tion, and if you be­lieve the ru­mours we’ll see more of th­ese fully-loaded load-haulers in show­rooms in the com­ing years.

There’s a car yard in Syd­ney al­ready turn­ing PX Rangers into Rap­tor look-a-likes, and Rap­tor-like grilles are as pop­u­lar on Rangers as Chevy badges are on Hold­ens. One re­port says Ford Aus­tralia is look­ing to pro­duce a Ranger Rap­tor to sell above the Wild­trak in the range, but we won­der how far Ford would go with such a spe­cial ve­hi­cle. Will it have the off-road spe­cific sus­pen­sion, raised ground clearance and all­ter­rain tyres that the F150 Rap­tor of­fers in the USA, or will it just be a stick­ers and trim pack like most of the ‘spe­cials’ we get here?

What would Ford do for a high per­for­mance en­gine to back up any im­proved of­froad abil­ity of a lo­cal Rap­tor? The Ranger is only of­fered here with a choice of diesel en­gine op­tions, with no petrol like the twin-turbo Eco­boost V6 the Rap­tor F150 has.

A hi-po petrol en­gine such as this or a V8 would rev­o­lu­tionise this style of ve­hi­cle in Aus­tralia, and it makes sense when you con­sider how many SS utes Holden sells to blokes who love their V8s.

Also con­sider how many Land Cruiser 79 se­ries utes you hear with three-inch ex­haust sys­tems bel­low­ing out the V8 good vibes and tell me there isn’t a mar­ket for per­for­mance 4x4 utes in Aus­tralia.

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