Ute We love our utes. And car­mak­ers haven’t missed that point, with sev­eral new ones on the way... wars

Townsville Bulletin - - Cars Guide -

AUS­TRALIA’S next line-up of dual cab utes may be de­liv­ered by Mercedes-Benz and Suzuki, both eyeing the grow­ing de­mand for these work and play horses. Benz is con­sid­er­ing the G-Pro­fes­sional ute, a heavy-duty work­horse based around the mil­i­tary G wag­ons. Suzuki is look­ing at bring­ing in the Equa­tor, a re-badged Nis­san Navara sold in the United States since early 2009. On the G-Pro­fes­sional, Mercedes-Benz Aus­tralia’s se­nior com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager David Mc­Carthy says: “ It’s a long way off be­ing a cer­tainty but they do make a dual cab and that would po­ten­tially be in the mix.” Be­ing tested here this year are two G-Pro­fes­sional ve­hi­cles — a cab-chas­sis ute and wagon; back in Ger­many there is also a dual cab avail­able. Now, with Aus­tralian de­fence or­ders for the G-Class, Mercedes-Benz Aus­tralia is look­ing at the busi­ness case and op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­dus­tries for utes and wag­ons. chas­sis than the civil­ian G-Class wagon, runs a 140kW and 400Nm V6 diesel cou­pled four-wheel drive is full­time with a two-speed trans­fer case and three dif­fer­en­tial locks. Queens­land’s Suzuki Auto Com­pany gen­eral man­ager Adam Le Fevre says a dual cab Equa­tor has been on his wish list for some time, as it is with Suzuki Aus­tralia. Ja­pan but there re­main is­sues about right­hand drive ver­sions — the North Amer­i­can Equa­tor is built there as left-hand drive only, Nis­san’s Thai fac­tory pro­duces right-hand drive Navaras and the Span­ish fac­tory is geared for only a lim­ited num­ber of right-hand drives. “ Our coun­ter­parts in Mel­bourne are pretty keen to have it on the list too,” says Le Fevre. “ The crew cab is what we’d be happy with, diesel and petrol. It’s sold in the States with a

petrol V6, that wouldn’t do as well, we’d have to have the diesel. “ It’s not go­ing to hap­pen im­me­di­ately, don’t think we’re go­ing to see it straight away but you have to keep look­ing down the track.” The Benz and Suzuki would join a grow­ing num­ber of dual cabs, most now des­tined for safety fea­tures than be­fore, on the Aus­tralian mar­ket. New­est is Volk­swa­gen’s Amarok, adding a Euro-touch to an area un­til now dom­i­nated by Ja­panese man­u­fac­tur­ers. Toy­ota’s HiLux re­mains a top-seller, Nis­san’s Navara and the Mit­sub­ushi Tri­ton are well-es­tab­lished com­peti­tors with all-new of­fer­ings about to be re­leased by Ford and Mazda plus a re­worked Holden Colorado not too far away. More than 15,000 four-wheel drive utes were sold through Janaury and Fe­bru­ary, grab­bing 9.8 per cent of the to­tal mar­ket to date. Twowheel drive utes have lost trac­tion, down 11 per cent on last year’s sales.

Suzuki is con­sid­er­ing the Equa­tor, a re-badged Nis­san Navara, for Aus­tralia

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