Johannesburg - Although no changes are expected for SA's two top-selling bakkies, the Hilux and Ranger having already been renewed in the past year, 2017 is still looking to be an exciting year for bakkie fans, with five new or updated one-tonners on the horizon and a complete segment buster expected from Renault. Here’s what you can look forward to in the coming year:
Fiat Fullback range expansion
Fiat’s Mitsubishi Triton based Fullback one-tonner was launched locally in June last year, but buyers have had very little range choice, with just three derivatives to choose from.
Fiat will however be expanding the range during the second quarter, with the 2.5-litre diesel double cab, currently only available in manual guise, being offered with an automatic gearbox, while the single cab 2.4-litre petrol model will be joined by a diesel derivative.
Mazda BT-50 facelift
Mazda’s one-tonner will imminently receive its first upgrade since the Ford divorce. The 2017 BT-50 is still based on the Ranger, given that it’s just a facelift, but the next-generation Mazda bakkie will instead share a platform with the next Isuzu KB.
The facelifted BT-50 range has been scaled down to just three diesel double cab models: 2.2 SLX 4x2, 2.2 SLE 4x2 and 3.2 SLE 4x4. The 2.2-litre engine has not be upgraded in line with Ford’s, thus continuing to offer 110kW and 375Nm.
It if weren’t for the wonky rand, we would have seen the new Triton in SA around the middle of last year already, but now it’s finally on course, with the local launch scheduled for late January.
One positive however, is that Mitsubishi will offer its all-new 2.4-litre turbodiesel engine, instead of the old 2.5 that was originally planned. The 2.4 has outputs of 133kW (up 2kW) and 430Nm (up 30Nm) thanks to a variable geometry turbocharger that offers better response from lower in the rev range.
The new bakkie is also said to be quieter and roomier than the current model, with higher quality cabin finishes and a full colour multimedia display.
Even more overdue than the Triton, Nissan’s Navara will also grace our streets in 2017 and it’s said to be quite a game-changer, with its smooth-riding multi-link suspension with coil springs making its leaf-sprung rivals look rather dated.
Though the launch date hasn’t been set in stone, the Navara is expected to make an appearance earlier rather than later in the year. The initial models will be powered by a new 140kW/450Nm 2.3-litre turbodiesel and specced to the hilt, with touch-screen infotainment and leather seats as standard, but we would also bet on lower-specced versions following at a later stage if and when local production commences. Read our driving impressions HERE.
Renault’s Duster Oroch double cab will bring a totally new dimension to the local bakkie market when it arrives later in the year. Like the Chev Utility and Nissan NP200 it’s a unibody vehicle (in this case based on the Duster SUV), just taken into a more upmarket double cab format.
The local engine line-up has yet to be confirmed, but it is likely to follow its SUV cousin in offering 1.6-litre normally aspirated petrol and 1.5-litre turbodiesel options, with the latter possibly available with all-wheel drive. Also a possibility is the 105kW 2-litre petrol engine offered in Brazil.
It might not look all that different at first glance but Volkswagen’s Amarok has received some serious upgrades and you can expect the newcomer on local shores around July this year.
The most exciting prospect is the fitment of a new 3-litre V6 TDI turbodiesel engine, offered in 120kW, 150kW and 165kW output levels overseas, and although it technically has yet to be confirmed for our market, it’s hard to see why VWSA would starve SA’s power-hungry bakkie fans of this brawny new addition.
The other big thing about the 2017 Amarok is its completely redesigned, and much smarter looking cabin.
Merc’s bakkie only due in 2018
Sadly the most exciting new bakkie entrant in years is not going to make it to South Africa by the end of 2017, but well-heeled bakkie fans can look forward to the Mercedes-Benz X-Class arriving during the first quarter of 2018.
The X-Class has yet to be revealed in production guise, but the concept below will give you a fairly good idea of how the classy new pick-up, based on the new Nissan Navara, will look.