Clash of the ‘cabs

Find­ing the Best Leisure Bakkie

Road Trip - - CONTENTS - Story by Ferdi de Vos Cap­tured by Peet Mocke

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.

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