Volkswagen Amarok Dark Label 2.0 BiTDI 132 kW

Its been ten years since Volkswagen launched the Amarok. I took that bakkie on a trip to the Cederberg. Loved it n the road, not so much offroad. The problem was the typical VW manual gearbox, with the sticky second gear, and the very narrow torque band. Then they gave us the brilliant auto box and it was like chalk and cheese.

Volkswagen Amarok Dark Label 2.0 BiTDI 132 kW

The Amarok we drove here is the final iteration of the 2.0 L bi-turbo auto before the new Amarok arrives late next year or in 2022. I must say they have ironed out any issues. Its about as foolproof as a large multi-use vehicle can be.

The cabin of the Amarok has been in a class of its own since launch, although the competition has caught up and arguably the Mercedes is more luxurious and the Ford more funky The cabin of the Amarok is seriously good – spacious, comfortable, ergonomic and apparently well put together using durable materials. I liked it originally and I still like it. There are a few odd or quirky elements, but nothing to complain about.

The seats are very comfortable, even at the back. You can go for an all day game drive and not be tired or stiff at the end of it.

This bakkie really offers SUV-like styling, equipment and finishes. Inside is more car than truck. Outside is satisfyingly more truck than car. The Amarok still looks good and up to date. The shape has not aged at all. And its still very wide. So, before you buy one, check if it will fit in your garage or parking space.

We went up to Velddrif and Aurora on a mixture of highway, regional roads, smooth gravel roads and minor (less maintained) roads  and the Amarok once again confirms it is the King of Cruising. This is a really good cruising or touring vehicle.

We drove in a sandy track and on a muddy road. The Amarok never skipped a beat.

Fuel consumption was around 9L/100km. It is possible to bring this down when cruising but you will have to be very gentle with that right foot. Handling is excellent for such a large vehicle and the behaviour of the vehicle is as good as the best in class.

The bigger sister V6 Extreem 3.0 TDI 190 kW is sublime but quite a bit more expensive.

 

Warranty is three years and the service plan is five years or 90 000 km.

The range starts at R643 600, but the Dark Label starts at R742 600 although the bakkie we tested is R765 000 with all the extras. The fancy  Extreem 3.0 TDI 190 kW has a suggested retail price of R907 200.

At around three quarters of a million rand you can also get the  Mercedes Benz x250d at R790 281, Ford Wildtrak at R717 400, Toyota HiLux GR Sport at R728 800, Nisan Navarra Stealth at R683 200 and Isuzu D-max at R653 400.

 

Ford Ranger Wildtrak

It was one of those typical Western Cape rainy, mostly overcast days – cool to the point of almost being cold. But nothing was going to put us off our weekend trip to Strandfontein high up the West Coast, near Vredendal.

Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Before setting off I was worried that our bedding would get soaked but the slightly funny looking cladded rollbar gave just enough protection.

We headed north on the R365 via Porterville to the N7 as we wanted to experience the Clanwilliam Dam sluices in full flow. From there we went on the R364 as far as Graafwater where we headed north on an interesting gravel road. We wondered why the local looked at us a little strangely when we confirmed the route. But not for long. Wild, wet and… well, fun.

Cruising on tar is a cinch. The cruise control even has distance control and a reminder to take a rest comes on every 90 minutes. There really is power to spare, especially when that second turbo kicks in. It makes passing so quick and easy. The Wildtrak simply absorbs all the road imperfections, its like riding on a magic carpet. The bakkie is equipped with most of the tech you may want, from automatic wipers and headlights to the very good Synch 3 infotainment system to top notch safety systems.

Wildtrak at Strandfontein beach.

Hit the gravel, or in this case mud on the road between Graafwater and Doornbaai just before Strandfontein. Turn on 4H, which you can do while driving, and enjoy the trip. This bakkie is steady and its tail does not wag the body like some other bakkies. What a pleasure.

Parking at the mall in Vredendal was easy. I did not even have to use the park assist (City Park Steering), although I found the rear camera useful, once I had cleaned the lens. The town impressed me, providing all the services and retail outlets you may need on a short trip to the area. The coffee shop in the mall serves a good coffee but their serving sizes are a bit… different.

A very civil bakkie this, with heated seats, combination fabric and leather seats, 2x USB outlets, 3x 12v sockets, a 230v inverter outlet, “A”-pillar grab handles, soft touch where you are likely to touch, very good multi-function steering wheel, climate control and more.

The 2.0 Bit 4X4 D/cab Wildtrak At gives you 157 kW and a mighty 500 Nm of torque through a silky smooth 10-speed automatic box. The loadbay is good for 860 Kg. The standard wheel size is 265/60 R18, which is quite a good balance. If you are going to spend a lot of time offroad think about changing to 265/65 R17s.

All the normal safety, passive and active, kit is included.

On the Strandfontein weekend I averaged 9.1L/100km. I think that is pretty representative of general driving, but in town it will be higher.

Of all the double cab bakkies I have driven over the years I think the Wildtrak comes closest to being the real thing, delivering comfort, performance, safety, drivability, space and economy.

Yes, the Raptor is better on a fast gravel track, yes the V6 Amarok is the ultimate highway cruising bakkie, but as an all round package Wildtrak delivers better than all the rest.

The warranty is for 4 years or 120000Km, 5 Year Corrosion, 3 Year Roadside Assistance and a 6 year or 90000Km service plan is included.

Also look at the VW Amarok Dark Label 2.0 BiTDI (R742 600), Mercedes Benz X 250 d Auto (R724 202), Toyota 2.8 GD6 GR-S (R750 300), Isuzu D-max 3.0 Auto (R679 900) and of course the Raptor.

Mahindra PikUp S11 Automatic 4×4

PikUp. Tough. Truck. But now a bit more than that.

Mahindra PikUp

The S11 Double Cab offers a six speed automatic box, climate control, power windows, tiltable power steering, central locking, touch screen infotainment centre with Bluetooth, USB and AUX, steering-mounted audio & cruise controls and even puddle lamps.

Clearly we are still talking truck here, sure it has most of the comfort amenities you could want and has a really pleasant cabin, but it drives like the robust truck it is under the refreshed more stylish skin. Its not unpleasant to drive but it is not a Ranger or Amarok. Having said that it will go where any of the other bakkies dare venture. I drove the automatic in really soft dune sand with no problems at all and no need to engage low range.

Safety provision is good with all the basic measures included.

Little luxury items include rain-sensing windscreen wipers, rear camera, light-sensing and follow me home headlamps with daytime running lights.

The mHawk 2.2L turbo common rail engine produces 103 kW and 320 Nm with a claimed consumption of under 8L/100km (but work on 9L/100km). The rear mechanical diff lock is automated and low range is engaged using a rotary knob. Braked towing capacity of 2.5 ton, while unbraked is 750kg. The turning circle is a bit wide for the city at 6.7 m. The ground clearance of 210mm is not as bad as it looks because the wheels are not as far apart as some other bakkies.

The range starts at R316 499 for the S6 4×2 workhorse right up to the leisure orientated S11 4×4 Karoo at R429 999. We drove the S11 4×4 Automatic at R414 999. It is just plain good value for money. Yes, it has a lazy turning circle and yes a woman in high heels will have fun mounting the cabin (for a lack of suitable grab handle) and yes it looks a little archaic from the side and the cabin is a little narrow, but none of these are deal breakers.

The Karoo models are unique to South Africa and do give you a leisure bakkie with a real workhorse in its heart. A bit like an Isuzu – just not quite as refined.

On the open road, whether tar or gravel, the PikUp cruises happily and frugally at the legal limit. Above the legal limit you will need a bit of a downhill and preferably a tailwind to get to the 155km/h top speed.

The seats are comfortable, aircon works well, progress is effortless and roadholding is normal by bakkie standards and much improved over the versions of a few years ago. Off-road the “new” mHawk 2.2 turbodiesel working through the Aisin six-speed together with the automatic Eaton rear diff-lock produces the goods.

The warranty and roadside assistance plan is for 4 years or 120 000km while the included service plan is for 5 years or 90 000km.

The alternatives include the Steed 5 and 6, Nissan NP300 and JMC Vigus. I also like the underrated Steed 5, but only with the 2.0L VVT engine.

Mahindra is a big Indian vehicle manufacturer which since 2018 has a local assembly plant at the Dube Tradeport near Durban where the PikUp is assembled so spares should be relatively cheap and quick to source.

First published in Stellenboschnews.com.

PEUGEOT LANDTREK entering the One ton Pick-up segment later this year

Peugeot is entering the One ton Pick-up segment with the Landtrack later this year, just as Mercedes Benz is exiting with tail between the legs. Hopefully the French learnt a thing or two.

Peugeot Landtrack

It is based on the fundamentals of the segment says Peugeot: 3.5 t towing capacity, versatility, different body shapes, real off-road and overtaking capabilities with unbeatable robustness and ease of repair.

They say sub-sahara Africa is one of the initial launch areas, but give no indication of pricing.

I think the engines are borderline powerful enough for our market.

Diesel : 1.9L displacement and 111kW thanks to a variable geometry 16-valve turbocharger. Its torque of 350 Nm and 6-speed Getrag manual gearbox . It has chain timing to optimise maintenance costs. Roller rocker arms reduce noise, have higher speeds and less friction for less wear. This engine has a combined fuel consumption of 7.8L/100km,
Petrol : turbocharged with 2.4L displacement and a comfortable power output of 156kW and 320 Nm of torque combined with a 6-speed Getrag manual gearbox or a 6-speed Punch automatic gearbox with sequential, Sport or Eco modes.

The vehicle has a length of 5.33m for the double cab version and 5.39m for the single cab versions, all with a width of 1.92m.

The size of the cargo box is a central design element of the architecture and makes it possible to load:

2 “Euro-pallets” in Double Cab versions (1.63m x 1.60m x 500mm body and 1.22m wheel width),
3 “Euro-pallets” in Single Cab versions (2.43m x 1.60m x 500mm tipper and 1.22m wheel width).

For 4×4 versions, the front transmission is engaged using a dedicated thumbwheel to transmit some of the power to the front axle. This allows the driver to choose between 2 modes:

  • 4H (4 High speed) : for standard 4×4 use,
  • 4L (4 Low speed) short gear mode : thanks to a 2.7 to 1 reduction gearbox, an increase in torque at reduced speeds for driving in low-adhesion terrain or on steep slopes.

Finally, the rear differential is equipped with the eLocker system with automatic disengagement and provides extra traction when one wheel spins.

According to archywordlys Peugeot Landtrek is also not a completely independent design. It is based on the modern Changan F70 pickup truck introduced last year (Changan and PSA have a joint venture in China). The development of machines under the Chinese and French brands went in parallel, but the PSA joined the project later.

VW Amarok Canyon the most fun Leisure Bakkie

VW Amarok Canyon

The VW Amarok 3.0TDI V6 4Motion Canyon is Leisure Wheels magazine’s Bakkie of the Year.

The German bakkie, up against nine other double cab bakkies for the crown, scored 90.5% ahead of Ford’s Ranger Raptor (86.3%) and Toyota’s Hilux 2.8GD-6 Legend 50 (85.4%). The new competition format revolves around Average Joe’s bakkie requirements, and not flippant matters such as 0–100km/h acceleration times.

Instead, the competition focused on real-world issues such as fuel consumption, load carrying ability, towing, safety, handling, 4×4 ability, interior, long-term ownership and, counting 20% of the overall score, a subjective driving test score, as adjudged by five industry experts and professional drivers.

The Leisure Wheels test lab.

The results are:
1) Volkswagen Amarok 3.0TDI 4Motion Canyon AT 90.5%
2) Ford Ranger Raptor 86.3%
3) Toyota Hilux 2.8GD-6 4×4 Legend 50 (manual) 85.4%
4) Ford Ranger 2.0 Bi-Turbo 4×4 Wildtrak AT 83.4%
5) Mercedes-Benz X350d 4Matic 81.6%
6) Isuzu D-Max 3.0DT 4×4 LX (manual) 78.9%
7) Nissan Navara 2.3D 4×4 Stealth AT 78.8%
8) Mitsubishi Triton 2.4Di-D 4×4 AT 75.9%
9) Mahindra Pik Up 2.2CRDe 4×4 Karoo 70.4%
10) Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Namib 64.2%

The Raptor is wide and has an almost mean stance.

“Our aim with this test was to focus on real-world factors that affect real bakkie owners, and to go the full nine yards establishing those results. For the fuel consumption test, conducted on Gerotek’s high speed oval, we devised a set route that included stop-and-pull-off simulations, full throttle overtaking simulations, as well as slow and high speed laps. We also added 190kg to the bak, so the results are what consumers can realistically expect to achieve, on a daily basis,” explains Leisure Wheels’ Danie Botha.

And what is it about the Amarok that set it apart from the rest of the pack? Is it really perfect in every which way?

“It’s certainly not perfect,” says Botha. “It didn’t score well in the 4×4 ability, long-term ownership and safety segments. But for the rest, it really is a solid, classy package. It seems VW’s engineers worked some kind of magic with the leaf-sprung rear suspension, offering an SUV-like ride on all surfaces. And that V6 engine… here’s a bakkie that will outrun many hot hatches between traffic lights, yet it can carry nearly a ton on the bak.”

The March issue, featuring the comprehensive Bakkie of the Year report, goes on sale on Monday, 17 February. More detailed results in the respective segments will be published on leisurewheels.co.za.

Ford Ranger Raptor review

The cherry on top of the double cab world. That’s one way of looking at it. VW supporters will argue the V6 Amarok is quicker in a straight drag, and it is. You could argue the MB 190kW X-Class V6 is pretty hot with its 190kW and a peak torque of 550Nm. And you would be quite right.

But. And its a big but.

Ford Ranger Raptor

The Raptor has something special about it.

It is special.

It is a double cab bakkie yes, but it is also a full blooded performance car. And how it performs on gravel and jeep tracks is most gratifying.

The secret is really the long-travel suspension. The rear is taken from the Everest giving it a car like ride but that is just the beginning. Ford and suspension hot shop Fox developed special high performance struts and widened the wheelbase by 150mm.

The cabin has also been finely tuned to reflect its sport bent. Special seats with technical suede, sporty steering wheel paired with lightweight magnesium paddle shifters, blue stitching trim and a top class electronic traction and handling package all contribute to a feeling that you are in a very special vehicle. I love it.

The Ranger Raptor’s Terrain Management System (TMS) includes a Baja mode, inspired by Mexico’s famous Baja Desert Rally, which enables ultra-responsive, high-speed off-road performance. In this mode, vehicle systems like Traction Control are pared back to allow spirited off-road driving without intervention from the vehicle’s on-board systems. Gear selection is optimised for maximum performance, and the mapping will hold gears longer and downshift more aggressively.

The Raptor is wide and has an almost mean stance.

The Raptor is equipped with 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, Electronic Stability Control with traction control, hill start assist, hill descent control, adaptive load control, trailer sway control and rollover mitigation.

Raptor comes in a range of colours of which the grey is my favourite.

A newly developed 2.0-litre bi-turbodiesel engine producing 157 kW and 500 Nm coupled to a ten-speed autobox gives this bakkie loads of performance and fairly good fuel consumption, dependent on the weight of your foot. It is fun to drive. In town, on the highway and most definitely on a gravel track.

Ford Raptor dash

Equipment levels are top class with literally everything you could want as standard.

Is it worth the extra cash? The Raptor has everything included in the sticker price. The Amarok Canyon is R799 000 plus R20k for the satnav infotainment pack. The Mercedes X350 is R904 188 without satnav or park assist etc. so its around a million.

So, if its the right car for you it is almost a bargain at R786 400.

Next year (2020) a new Isuzu bakkie will be launched to take on the Ranger, Amarok, X-class, Navara, Triton and the new bigger Steed, but for now I think the Raptor is the one with that little bit extra – the Mustang of bakkies.

Raptor has a  4-year /120 000 km comprehensive warranty, 5-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty, 3 years of roadside assistance, 6-year/90 000 km service plan with intervals every 15 000 km.

 

 

Mitsubishi Triton 2.4 Di-DC Double Cab facelifted

What’s in a face?

Take the facelifted Triton. The nose has changed. So, new face. You either love it, or hate it.

Otherwise there is much to love about the Triton, with a nose job.

Mitsbishi Triton T2.4L DI-DC A/T 4X4

At the very least a car’s face tells us something of the intentions or plan for the car. It it a puppy dog or a bulldog?

Mitsubishi claims “The new face incorporates the new-generation “Dynamic Shield” front design concept. The high hood line and beefier-looking headlights located higher up give the new model a more powerful and imposing frontal appearance.” Moving on…

The Triton has their MIVEC DOHC Intercooled Turbo Diesel with Common Rail Direct Injection producing 133kW@3500rpm and 430Nm@2500rpm using a new 6-speed A/T box.

Mitsubishi claims 8.3L/100km for the Combined Cycle.  I got 9.8L/100km.

The other big news is the new 6-Speed Automatic Transmission with Intelligent Shift Control, delivering the optimum balance of engine power, fuel economy and interior quietness with smooth acceleration at low engine revolutions. The latest version Super Select II 4WD system has an Off-road Mode available on the automatic transmission derivatives. The Off-road mode has GRAVEL, MUD/SNOW, SAND and ROCK (in 4LLc only) settings for improved traction on different road surfaces. This system is possibly the best there is. If you get into trouble you also have a rear diff lock. Triton is rated to tow a braked trailer of 3100kg.

The 4H drive mode distributes torque in a 40:60 ratio between the front and rear wheels via a Torsen limited-slip device for safer on-road driving in slippery conditions such as gravel and wet roads.

Mitsubishi’s unique Super Select II 4WD system offers four different drive modes for improved driver control and passenger safety. The 4H drive mode distributes torque in a 40:60 ratio between the front and rear wheels for safer on-road driving in slippery conditions i.e. dirt, gravel and wet roads. 4HLc (4WD High range with CD locked) distributes torque equally between the front and rear wheels for improved traction on sand, dirt and slippery surfaces like snow. 4LLc (4WD Low range with CD locked) provides greater torque for extreme off-road conditions.

I personally like the interior and the way the Triton just works, design wise (let’s leave the nose out of it) and technically.
“The new Triton is engineered to be tough and looks the part,” says Nic Campbell, General Manager of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa. “We are confident that the upgraded version will build on the popularity of the original Triton and the 40 years of development of this iconic pick-up.”

From the gear selector to the brakes, the steering – all the elements have been honed to be spot on. A more pleasant bakkie to drive will be hard to find.

The Triton has no less than 15 active safety and driver assistance systems, too numerous to mention. Suffice to say it’s got everything you want.

A high-quality look is created with soft pad materials and stitching on the floor console, armrests and parking brake. Functions include tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column with multi-function leather steering wheel with audio and cruise control, to dual-zone automatic air-conditioning and chromatic rear-view mirror.

The electrically adjustable driver’s seat allows you to get comfortable behind the wheel. The other seats are all comfortable and there is adequate legroom at the back.

Also look at the Isuzu D-Max, Mazda BT-50, Nissan Navarra, Toyota HiLux, GWM Steed and Ford Ranger.

The 2.4L DI-DC M/T 4×2 costs R509 995, 2.4L DI-DC A/T 4×2 – R529 995
2.4L DI-DC M/T 4×4 – R569 995 and 2.4L DI-DC A/T 4×4 – R589 995.

Triton is covered by a warranty of 3 years or 100 000km and a 5-year / 90 000 km Service Plan.

The manufacturer’s warranty is for 3 years / 100 000 km. Road Side Assistance is for 5 years with  unlimited mileage. The service plan is for 5 years or 90 000 km. Service Intervals: Every 10 000 km.

Which bakkie should I buy?

Owning and living with a bakkie is more than just walking into a dealership and paying for your truck. Your experience of and with the dealership can make or break your attitude to your bakkie and the brand.

If the purchasing and servicing experience is important to you this is going to help you decide which brands to look into.

The best buying and servicing experience is measured continuously by an independent research company, called Ipsos, for the industry.

Historic data

The owners of light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in South Africa are getting a very good deal in terms of their purchasing and servicing experience according to the results of the 2015 Ipsos customer satisfaction market research of the local automotive industry.

The good level of customer satisfaction in terms of the LCV purchasing and servicing experience in South Africa is underlined by the fact that four brands; Isuzu, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen, won gold awards for purchasing and three; Isuzu, Nissan and Toyota  won gold for servicing in the 2015 survey. So the top brands to own are Isuzu, Nissan and Toyota.

Chevrolet and Ford got silver awards for purchasing, while Chevrolet and Volkswagen earned silver for servicing. Ford was the only recipient of a bronze award for LCV servicing. This may be down to the massive growth of their market share last year.

The results of the survey are subjected to four separate checks and balances or so-called quality gates to ensure validity.

bakkie sales q

The servicing winners are:

bakkie servicing

“These 2015 figures are absolutely outstanding,” commented Patrick Busschau, the Ipsos SA Automotive Business Unit Director. “The very impressive results show that both the buying and servicing experience provided by dealers franchised by the participating brands in South Africa is world class.

“Buyers of light commercials are also not short-changed from a product, as well as a sales and after-sales experience perspective, and this is very important in view of the large number of people who now buy top end LCVs for both personal and leisure use. They pay a lot of money for many of these vehicles, which are now competing with mid to high-end SUVs in the quality and comfort stakes, and it is good to see that the manufacturers, importers and dealers are putting a lot of focus on providing excellent service to those buying and operating LCVs. The Isuzu, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen brands, in particular, in the LCV segment are to be commended for the consistently excellent service delivery when customers purchase or service these vehicles”.

Servicing over time

The servicing experience has improved over time as can be seen from the graph. Satisfaction has increased from 80% to 90% over the last few years.

Latest data from 2018

Bear in mind that this research is always a year behind and many bakkies have been upgraded or renewed in the last 12 months. This is just a rough guide as to the perceived quality.

In the graph below the lower the score the better.

The smaller bakkies have the disadvantage that they are noisier and have smaller engines. It is actually wrong to compare them with the bigger bakkies.

Safe motoring.

Ford Raptor hatches

It’s fierce, it is fast and it is furious. It is also wider, rides higher and is brilliant in sand and on fast Kalahari tracks.

It is the new Ford Ranger Raptor. The ultimate big boy’s toy.

Ford Ranger Raptor

Although the new Raptor is based on the Ranger platform, it is a very different beast. The development team were given a blank cheque and told to make the fastest off-road bakkie, perhaps inspired by the very rapid US F-150 based Raptor.

Ranger Raptor suspension

They started with the chassis, which they widened by 150mm, strengthened and stiffened. An entirely new suspension was developed by Ford Australia which includes high performance Fox shocks Position Sensitive Damping, a Watts linkage at the back (from the Everset), forged aluminium upper control arms and cast aluminium lower control arms. This gives the Raptor 32% more travel at the front and 22% at the rear. An enhanced version of Ford Stability Control incorporating Roll Mitigation Function and Electronic Stability Control; Trailer Sway Control; Hill Start Assist; Hill Descent Control and Load Adaptive Control helps keep things under control.

“The standout experience of the Ranger Raptor, hands down, is how far you can push it off-road versus any other available standard production road vehicle, and still provide amazing ride comfort on-road,” says Damien Ross, chief program engineer, Ford Ranger Raptor. BF Goodrich developed new 285/70 R17 all-terrain tyres specially for the Raptor.

Top speed is governed at 178km/h due to the tyres. The Raptor cabin is exceptionally quiet when cruising on the highway.  This is due to a combination of good tyre design, noise cancelling technology and double glazing for the side windows.

The new suspension and tyres give the Raptor a ground clearance of 283mm and a wading depth of 870 mm.

Ford Ranger Raptor at full tilt

The 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo engine gets quite growly when pushed, but pleasantly so, producing a very useful 157kW and 500Nm and is mated to Ford’s advanced new 10-speed automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters. A unique transmission calibration also includes a Live In Drive (LID) function enabling prompt manual gear selection override.

During a drive from Upington to Goera Pan we got 9.7 L/100km at a steady 120 km/h but consumption  goes up to 16 odd at 160km/h. That is still not bad for a big bakkie.

This bakkie handles beautifully both on and off-road.  Three drive settings –  2H, 4H and 4L and six modes provide the magic. If you want to have fun you select Baja mode, which is one of the 6 modes of what Ford calls the Terrain Management System: normal, sport, sand, snow, mud and fun, er, Baja. Systems such as Traction Control are pared back to allow more spirited off-road driving, while gear selection is optimised for maximum performance, holding gears longer and downshifting more aggressively.

Driving on the Goera Pan on a specially laid out “rally” track with a variety of surfaces, bumps, dips, very soft sand, hard stoney packed stretches was an eye opener. Especially when Gareth Woolridge took the wheel of the Raptor.

The interior of the Raptor is about function. It is effectively a sports car. The blue stitching on the top of the dash and on the  really comfortable and supportive seats which are covered in technical suede add a light touch. The instrumentation is top notch, especially the “trip computer” which is actually a whole lot more. Ford’s Synch 3 infotainment system is good and easy to use and has Apple CarPlay or Android Auto . The navigation is by “Maps for Africa”  and comes with an update licence for 5 years.

There are extra ports at the back.

The Electronic Power Assist Steering (EPAS) is also linked to the TMS, providing varying levels of assistance and responsiveness according to the specific drive mode selected

The exterior is quite butch but bakkie like. Personally I think it fits the bill, especially in grey and white, although most of the media contingent like the blue version. Raptor looks the part, the big bruiser from the blue oval. Other bakkies just look peh in comparison.

The actual colours are: Ford Performance Blue, Colorado Red, Absolute Black, Frozen White and Conquer Grey, with contrasting Dyno Grey accents.

The Raptor is about going very fast over sandy or open terrain. It is a high performance vehicle. The looks, the interior, the finish, (good as they all are) are somewhat immaterial. It is the go that counts.

Raptor has all the safety systems and equipment of the normal Ranger.

The retail price of R786 400 is reasonable in the context of the delivery.

All Ford Rangers come standard with Ford Protect, comprising a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, three-year/unlimited distance roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty. A six-year/90 000km service plan is included, with 15 000km service intervals.

Nissan Navara 4×2 review

Nissan Navarra 2.3D LE 4X2 AT DC

After building bakkies for 77 years for its own brand, among them the evergreen NP300 Hardbody and the 1400 of my youth; and now building bakkies for Renault and Mercedes as well you would be forgiven for thinking they know how to build the things. Judging by the Navara, they do know.

The Navara is very close to the complete bakkie. Space, performance, poise, great fuel consumption, comfort and very capable, this Nissan does it all.

Nissan Navara LE 4×2 Auto

The specification level on this bakkie is very high. From things you expect like fog lights to some more exotic items like heated door mirrors. It is a match for any SUV when it comes to equipment.
Leather seats, power steering, climate control, infotainment centre, it has all the stuff you may want. A nice touch is a hollow in the dash with a power point, ideal for any powered electronic equipment from GPS to dashcam.

This Navara has no less than 37 safety and security items from ABS to VDC (vehicle dynamic control) check them out on the website for yourself at https://www.nissan.co.za/vehicles/new/New-Navara/Specifications.html#grade-D23-3|equipment.

I particularly love the rear camera with sensors and the 360° camera system which displays a rear image and an overhead image in the rear mirror. It makes this rather large and very long bakkie much more manoeuvrable and somehow smaller.

The cabin has been well designed and appears to be well screwed together. The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable and very comfortable. Rear legroom is good. There are a number of storage bins and places to keep things.

The highly capable 2.3 L twin-turbo common rail direct injection diesel engine pushes out a very respectable 140kW and 450Nm. Coupled with the smooth optional 7-speed automatic transmission as was the case in the bakkie we tested, it is a joy to drive and much more like a car than a truck, but you can still tow a 3,5 ton braked trailer and you have 229mm ground clearance.

The heavy duty 5-link coil rear spring suspension probably helps to make it act more like an SUV as well.
Nissan claim a combined average fuel consumption of 7 L/100 km, and the bakkie I drove indicated a lifetime economy of just that, but I drove mostly in town and averaged around 11 L/100 km. Still good for a vehicle this size.

At the back the Utili-track tie down system in the 1,5 m loadbay is a boon. The 1,36 m wide tailgate can be opened with one hand and appears to be very sturdy.
We previously tested the 4×4 and found it to be capable off-road. We can say that this 4×2 is really capable on road. Not having to lug the extra 4×4 kit wherever you go means all round performance is better and fuel economy even more so.

Nissan Navara LE 4×2

The Navara competes directly with the Mercedes X class, Volkswage Amarok, Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux. The Isuzu D-max is more truck-like and the Mitsubishi Triton slightly smaller and more wieldy. Don’t forget the super tough Mahindra and the capable and extremely good value for money GWM Steed 5 and slightly bigger Steed 6.

Prices start at R484 900 for the SE Manual, we tested the 4×2 LE Auto at R575 500.
Three years or 90 000 km is the warranty you get.