Clash of the ‘cabs
Finding the Best Leisure Bakkie
Finding the Best Leisure Bakkie
They count among the bestselling vehicles in the country, and their popularity is still growing. Ferdi de Vos, with some expert assistance, pitted seven double cabs against each other to find the best leisure bakkie for your next road trip.
The trend started nearly four decades ago in 1979 when Toyota included a 4×4 model in their Hilux line-up. Five years later, the Japanese carmaker completely broke the mould by introducing the first double cab 4×4 in the fourth generation Hilux range.
It created a significant new segment within the one-ton market, as family and recreational users could now benefit from the increased versatility of a light pickup.
Other manufacturers, such as Nissan (Hardbody and Navara), Mazda (initially with its B-series and, from 2006, the BT50), Isuzu (KB), Mitsubishi (Colt and later Triton) Ford (Courier and now Ranger), followed suit. Soon these leisure oriented bakkies started to feature on the topseller list of the local market, and with the commissioning of local production in the ’seventies, they became a South African institution, like biltong and braai.
For over 40 years the Hilux has been leading the charge, only once being outsold by the KB during this period. But, since the new Australian developed Ford Ranger joined the fray in 2010, the position of dominance held by Toyota has been challenged on occasion.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen released its Argentinian-built Amarok pick-up, Isuzu introduced its sixth-generation KB locally in 2013 (updating it with some running changes and a 4×4 auto two years ago), Ford overhauled the Ranger extensively, andtoyota revealed the eighth incarnation of the Hilux.
The Mazda Bt-50,initially built locally with the Ranger, has meanwhile been upgraded
and is now imported from Thailand; as is the case with the latest Mitsubishi Triton, introduced earlier this year, as well as the Fiat Fullback, manufactured in the same plant as the Triton.
Also, Nissan debuted its long-awaited new third-generation D23 Navara, earmarked for local production, and Volkswagen recently made thev6 derivative of its Amarok available on local soil.
With so many derivatives, and with the majority of private buyers in this segment opting for auto transmissions, we decided to narrow down our comparisons and only pit the top-level diesel chargers from the different brands against each other. However, with no recent changes made to the topline diesel Isuzu KB, it was decided not to include it in this test. This left us with the special edition Ranger 3.2 TDCI Fx4 (based on the XLT auto 4×4), the secretly sneaked in Fullback 2.4 4×4 auto, the imported BT50 3.2 4×4 SLE auto, the recently introduced Triton 2.4 DI-DC 4×4 auto, the Navara 2.3D LE 4×4 auto, the special Hilux 2.8 GD-6 4×4 Black Edition, and the burly Amarok 3.0 V6 TDI 4-Motion auto Highline Plus. Let the battle of bakkies begin!
All seven contenders were assembled at Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve near Worcester and, over a period of two days, the evaluation team subjected them to a battery of tests. These included acceleration tests on rough tar (measured with a V-box) and a combination of gravel and sand, braking tests, a wheel articulation test, a static evaluation, as well as a standard road course over a variety of surfaces (tar and gravel). The following were evaluated: exterior design, interior design (including fit and finish and
Our judges (consisting of four seasoned motoring scribes and a renowned 4×4 expert) rated the more angular styling of the Amarok just ahead of the Ranger, Navara, and Hilux.