ALL THE NEW BAKKIES COMING TO SA —
Even a van- man like ALWYN VILJOEN can get excited about the six new double cabs coming to SA
I MUST confess to not understanding the whyfors behind double cab bakkies.
I get that they look so beautifully butch and can see a need for a 4x4 dropside for very slippery terrains just because a 4x4 van is that much more expensive.
But as a transport writer, when I get asked which is the best bakkie between, for example, the new Hilux and Ranger, I honestly have to answer neither one.
For the best bakkie is always a van — any van.
The askers are always owners of one of these double cabs ( no disrespect intended on calling them “askers”) and they always look nonplussed at my answer.
I then explain the best bakkie is always going to be a van because I like my wheels to earn their keep by carrying loads with the lowest outlay for the most security. Vans meet these criteria. Bakkies do not. This immediately leads to sev- eral “ja buts” around the fire from all double cab owners.
“I can load our bikes and go cycle in the mountain,” an oke with legs like Hercules tells me.
“So can a Hyundai H1, Merc Sprinter, Ford Transit, VW Transporter and even a Maxus, with a lot more security for your pricey mountain bikes,” I retort.
“I enjoy the high seat position,” pipes up a petite female driver.
I tell her I can look down and admire her shapely legs from my even more commanding height in the panelvan’s seat.
“I must have big wheels for the potholes,” says an oke in khaki.
I tell him budget cars like the Toyota Etios, Tata Bolt and Datsun Go were all designed for the many, many more people buying cars for much rougher roads in Thailand, India and South America.
“I farm cattle on a hilly farm, can’t do without a 4x4,” counters another oke, as he sips his lager with narrowed stare.
I sip my stout right back at him with an even narrower stare and tell how I farmed sheep on a flat farm that was black muddy bog all the way down, and a Mahindra 4x2 with a set of snow chains on the rear wheels went anywhere.
May as well talk to charcoal
I may as well be talking to the dead charcoal for all the impact my pragmatic views on working wheels have at these braais.
For the bottom line is there will always be drivers — many of them petite and female — who love the look of a big bakkie and just have to have one, the extra outlay be damned.
For them there is good news and better news, for not one, but a slew of totally new bakkie brands are heading to South Africa to enliven the pot.
Top of this list is the new version of the original butch bakkie, the Nissan Navara, which is coming back bulkier than ever, and it now has a Mercedes- Benz bolton clone.
In the sleek corner the new Mitsubishi Triton has sadly toned down its daring tear drop shape, but it is offering a Fiat Fullback one- tonner sibling on the same platform.
And from way outside the box both Renault and Hyundai have now rewritten the style book for butch bakkies with lines so sleek they made even this van man look twice.
Half a dirty dozen coming
These six new bakkies are ready to compete with Toyota’s Hilux for minority share of the growing double cab market, all offering “car- like comforts” and rides of varying softness and ability.
Expect the Navara, which now boasts a multi- link rear suspension instead of leaf springs, to again set the standard for a smooth ride over rough roads.
There is no news yet when Merc’s version of the Navara will arrive in SA, but Mercedes- Benz commercial vehicle spokesperson Sibusiso Mkwanaze did confirm to Wheels the bakkie is on its way.
In the Renault- Nissan alliance corner there are two bakkies aimed against Toyota’s global bakkie dominance. In a country where Hilux is often the best selling vehicle overall, it comes as a surprise that Renault is the top light commercial vehicle brand in Europe, thanks to the likes of the no- nonsense Kangoo.
Renault’s main Hilux- fighter is called the Alaskan and this concept bakkie is as far removed from its sparse Kangoo sibling as it is possible to get, with a design and sleek extras that promise to warm the cockles of double cab admirers around any fire.
The new global model, a larger one- ton pickup previewed by the Alaskan concept, will extend Renault’s pickup presence out of South America, helping it grab a piece of a worldwide pickup seg- ment it identifies as one- third of the light commercial vehicle market
At the recent São Paulo Motor Show, Renault also experimented with a sporty pickup version of the Dacia Duster SUV, showing how the platform could haul five people and offer a small load bed.
From Korea, Hyundai is finally filling its gap between sport utes and small delivery trucks with a luxury bakkie with the Santa Cruz Crossover.
This truck concept was unveiled at the North American International Motor Show in Detroit last year and is reportedly designed small enough to be move through city streets and cramped parking lots during the week, but big and versatile enough to ferry cargo on the weekends.
Hyundai aims this concept at those askers around the braai. Only, the company calls them the “urban adventurers”.
Spot the difference: The new Nissan Navara promises a soft ride on a multi- link rear suspension, as will its bolt- on clone, the new Mercedes- Benz bakkie. The main difference between the two will be the cladding inside — and the price for the badge.
From the Renault- Nissan stable comes this French bakkie.
The short Duster bakkie, which Dacia developed for Romania’s OMV Petrom oil and gas group, will be popular in SA and Brazil IF Renault exports it.
The Fiat Fullback ( left) was launched at the 2015 Dubai Motor Show and will be built on the bones of the current Mitsubishi Triton, the latest of which ( above) no longer has that daring tear- drop cabin.