Bakkie fest is on the cards
The sudden upsurge in global interest for one-ton bakkies, colloquially referred to as ‘bakkies’ in South Africa, will see a raft of newcomers reaching our shores in the next 12 months or so.
Toyota kicked off the bakkie fest with the launch of its much anticipated Hilux, which has been the acknowledged market leader in SA for decades now, but was coming under increasing pressure from new-generation contenders, notably the Ford Ranger and VW Amarok.
But the Hilux will soon be challenged by a series of newcomers, starting with Fiat, whose Mitsubishi-based Fullback should make its SA bow later this year. The Fiat will be sold as part of Fiat’s Professional commercial vehicle range, and is likely to be powered by an all-aluminium 2,4-litre turbodiesel rated at 130 kW, with a payload of more than a ton, despite its double cab layout.
Interestingly, the Fullback is based on the new-generation Mitsubishi Triton, which has yet to make its appearance in SA. However, the Fullback’s arrival here suggests that the new Triton will also make its appearance here sometime this year.
Also on the cards for its debut before year-end is Renault’s one-tonner, which will share its underpinnings with the new-generation Nissan Navara. The French bakkie’s styling was previewed by last year’s Alaskan concept, but it remains uncertain what the vehicle’s final nameplate will be.
Renault is likely to adopt a lifestyle approach to its bakkie, which suggests a double-cab configuration as the only option. The engine offering will focus on turbodiesel units, including the new 2,3-litre dCi unit, offered abroad in 118 kW and twin-turbo 140 kW versions. The latter may be detuned for SA market conditions.
The Renault’s all-new Nissan Navara stablemate is set to replace both the current NP300 and the existing Navara with a single body shape reflecting the move to larger, bolder designs. It too will offer the new turbodiesel engine, potentially in slightly different states of tune, but there will also be a V6 petrol option.
Unlike Renault, Nissan will be offering a full spectrum of configurations, including single cab, extended cab and double cab versions, covering both the workhorse and the leisure segments.
Mercedes-Benz is another newcomer to the bakkie segment, and will also draw on Nissan’s expertise for its one-ton double cab contender, expected to be badged the GLT.
However, the Mercedes will employ its own engines and transmissions, linked to the Navara’s chassis, suspension points and axles. It is likely to be last of the new bakkies to make it to market, with an expected launch date of late 2017, or early 2018, but sporting segment innovations such as air suspension.