For Captains of Industry
SA’s top-selling bakkie has two lesser spotted cousins, Alwyn Viljoen took them into the forest
IT used to be that South Africa only had two types of bakkie drivers — those in a Toyota Hilux and those in other bakkies.
But with the Ford Ranger being SA’s top-selling bakkie since January, we must now update this list to three types of bakkie drivers — the oke in the Ranger, followed by the bloke in the Hilux, followed by those in an Isuzu or Nissan NP300; and then came the lesser-selling bakkies, which range from the Amarok to the Tunland.
Of note among these other bakkies are the Mazda BT-50 and the JMC Vigus, because they are, of course, cousins to the Ranger. The question is, do they offer viable options to the Ranger?
I have now taken them all into the mountains that make Pietermaritzburg such a playground for mountainbikers, using an Isuzu KB300 automatic as the benchmark.
The results up The Slope and around the gravel corners was six of one and half a dozen of the other. Even with 180 Nm less power than the Ranger, the 2,4 Vigus carried its load, well, vigorously while the 90 Nm lesser power Isuzu was built to hunker down with a load. But the BT50 is the bargain among these bakkies, despite older tech in the dashboard.
Mazda BT-50: (147 kW, 470 Nm) The BT-50 shares everything except the badge and those curves with the Ranger. But where Ford merges seamlessly with any smartphone, the BT-50’s older Bluetooth architecture doesn’t. To scroll the menus on the tiny screen of the on-board computers requires pressing a tiny plastic nub behind the steering wheel. But the 3.2 double cab 4x4 SLE auto sells for just over R555 000, which means the canny captain of industry can get last year’s Ford technology at a discount. Last month, only 33 people were this canny.
Isuzu KB 300 DTEQ (130 kW, 380 Nm). The Isuzu is not a cousin of Ford, but as SA’s thirdbest-selling bakkie it makes a good comparison. Its price of about R563 000 seems high, but as many farmers know, there is a steep discount for the asking, which makes Isuzu SA’s unsung bakkie hero on dirt roads.
Ford Ranger (147 kW, 470 Nm) There are many reasons why this is now South Africa’s best-selling bakkie, with 3 333 new owners in SA during June and 5 631 more units exported. The smooth engines, the 4x4 ability and the ergonomic cabin are just some of them. A low price is not. The 3.2 double cab 4x4 XLT auto goes for about R594 000.
JMC Vigus (88 kW, 290 Nm) JMC builds Fords in China which explains why the Vigus looks so familiar. The 2.4 turbo diesel 4WD SLX sells for about R376 000. This is as low as it gets for a well-appointed workhorse, with proper tie-hooks on the outside load bin and Bosch and Ford tech under the hood.