Ford’s recently revealed Ranger Raptor has sparked a great deal of excitement in the one-tonne segment, and speculation is rife that it will eventually have some rivals to fend off.
On a more sober note, the Raptor - and the entire genre it wishes to create within the one-tonne market - has yet to be proven on the sales charts, but the hype it’s created has certainly made rival bakkie builders sit up, take notice and conduct feasibility studies...
One such rival is Nissan.
Australia’s motoring.com.au reports that Nissan’s Australian division is pushing its parent company to develop a Raptor-rivalling Navara, and although it is far from being a done deal, Nissan’s light commercial boss Ashwani Gupta has promised to conduct a feasibility study.
“I think it is more a question of ‘does the customer exist?’, which I think is evolving and ‘what is cost of technology and time to market?’. These are the two things which will be answered during the study,” Gupta said.
But what would be the appropriate power source for such a vehicle?
Ford insists that the 157kW/500Nm 2-litre twin-turbo diesel in its Raptor is the way to go as the vehicle is more about high-speed off-roading than straight-line performance. But many fans have criticised it for not having much more power than the current range-topping 3.2 TDCi.
Regardless of whether Ford is right or wrong, there clearly exists an opportunity for one-upmanship here, which brings us to the possibility that Nissan could source the 190kW/550Nm 3-litre V6 turbodiesel from the Mercedes X-Class (which is in any case based on the Navara, even using Nissan’s engines for its four-cylinder models).
Either way, Nissan certainly has the resources to produce a high-performance pick-up, and Gupta added that potential synergies with its alliance partners (should Mitsubishi or Renault customers also request a high-performance pick-up) would also add weight to such a project and make it more feasible.
“Obviously, the synergies between the three brands are important to make the cost of the technology more optimised,” Gupta told motoring.com.au.
“We have every technology to do it ourselves,” Gupta added. “We have Nismo, we have Renaultsport [and Mitsubishi Ralliart],” Gupta added.
What about a Gazoo Hilux?
The other Japanese rival that seems to be considering a Raptor rival is Toyota.
Last November, Aussie publication caradvice.com.au spoke to Toyota Australia marketing boss Sean Hanley, who admitted that there was a gap that the company could fill above its current Hilux SR5 and TRD models.
“It is clear to us that the demand sits one step above that level three now, which is our SR5,” Hanley told caradvice.
“We’ve been able to fill that gap somewhat with our TRD vehicle, and we certainly understand that in the future, we’ll have to examine very closely what we do to fill that gap to ensure that our number-one selling car continues to hold that momentum in the future.”
Could we see the Land Cruiser’s 4.5-litre V8 finding its way beneath the bonnet of a 'Gazoo' Hilux at some point in the future?
Something of a Dakar-inspired Raptor rival that draws off the experience gained by Toyota Gazoo South Africa's racing exploits?
An enticing prospect for bakkie fans, if ever there was one.