JOHANNESBURG - As far as bakkie sales are concerned, Toyota’s Hilux has a stranglehold on the South African market, as it has for decades now, but that has never stopped its rivals from stepping up to the plate with some compelling alternatives.
And while the Hilux just got more competitive than ever with its recent round of upgrades, the competition is preparing to go to war in the next two years with an array of all-new models.
These are six of the newcomers that we are looking forward to in 2021 and 2022, notwithstanding that there could also be a few surprises which we haven’t covered here.
Ford Ranger - due 2022 (est)
Although Ford Southern Africa has yet to officially confirm the local introduction and production of its next-generation Ranger, it seems a given considering that Volkswagen has announced that its second-gen Amarok will be built in Ford’s Silverton plant, but more on that later.
Given the timelines that VW has spoken of, it is plausible that the new Ranger could go on sale here later in 2022, if not in 2023, and although the new bakkie has yet to be officially revealed, we do have a relatively good idea of how it will look thanks to various spy shots, renderings and leaked information.
The CarExpert rendering you see above is said to be an accurate reflection of the production model, which will take on a more macho appearance inspired by the larger F-150.
You can expect the current single- and twin-turbo 2-litre diesels to carry over, given that they are still relatively fresh, but CarExpert also reports that a 3-litre turbodiesel, derived from the F-150’s 186kW unit, will find its way into flagship models such as the Raptor.
While the introduction of a new Ranger seems a given, we’re not so sure about its smaller brother, the unibody Maverick. Last we heard it was going to be left-hand drive only.
Isuzu D-Max - due early 2022
Isuzu will get a jump on Ford with its all-new D-Max that’s due to go on sale in South Africa in early 2022, and the company's manufacturing plant in the Eastern Cape is already gearing up for production of the new model.
While details remain hush, you can expect the local D-MAX to share a lot of its traits with its international counterparts, although local engineers say they’ve been adapting it for SA conditions too.
The tried-and-tested 2.5-litre turbodiesel model is expected to remain a staple in both the single cab and double cab models, with X-Rider and other special edition models expected further down the line. Although we won't likely be getting the high-tech 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine that other markets receive, we can expect a beefier version of the current range-topping diesel that displaces 3.0-litres and punches out around 140kW and 450Nm.
Mazda BT-50 - due later in 2021
While the current BT-50 is related to the Ford Ranger, the two carmakers cut their ties many years ago, and since then Mazda has turned to Isuzu to engineer and build its new-generation bakkie.
Although it shares most of its DNA with the aforementioned D-Max, the new BT-50 does get unique frontal styling, with some of Mazda’s ‘Kodo’ flavour, as well as Mazda-specific taillights and a unique upper dashboard design and steering wheel to set it apart from its fellow Japanese cousin.
As you’d expect, it’s an Isuzu affair beneath the bonnet, where you’ll find a 3-litre turbodiesel that pushes 140kW and 450Nm, and while it might have a bit less power than the previous 3.2 that it shared with Ford, Mazda is promising a significant improvement in fuel economy.
The local features list is still TBC, but overseas models offer modern gizmos such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Auto Emergency Braking and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Nissan Navara - due early 2021
The first of the new bakkie entourage to hit local showrooms will be Nissan’s new Navara, which is set to go into production at Nissan’s Rosslyn plant during the first quarter of this year.
The local production of the new model will also usher in an enhanced export programme, which will see the models reach 42 markets in sub-Saharan Africa.
While the current Navara has a limited line-up of high-spec double cabs, the locally-produced facelifted model will be offered in a much wider range of derivatives, including a single cab body style and lower spec grades.
Nissan SA also plans to offer additional powertrains, with the current 140kW 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel being joined by a more affordable single-turbo version with 120kW. The single cab derivatives will also be available with a petrol engine.
Like its new rivals, the latest Navara is available with a wide range of advanced active safety features in overseas markets, but local specifications have yet to be announced.
Peugeot LandTrek - due late 2021
The new Peugeot LandTrek might be a breath of fresh air in the luxury double cab market, but we sure hope it won’t face the same fate as the Mercedes-Benz X-Class. Premium bakkies aren't known to do too well in South Africa, as much as we love them, and being a relative newcomer to the segment, Peugeot will no doubt have its work cut out to convince us that the bakkie is any good.
Expect the French brand's 2.2-litre turbodiesels to do duty here, with around 140kW and 400Nm on tap in the range-topping models. Also expect a cutting edge array of comfort and safety features that will rival most luxury cars. Peugeot will no doubt bring a few quirks to the segment too and we're looking forward to putting the LandTrek up against some of its key rivals once it lands in Mzansi.
Expect the Peugeot Landtrek to arrive in showrooms in the third quarter of 2021.
Volkswagen Amarok - due 2022 (est)
Like the next Ford Ranger, the upcoming second-generation Volkswagen Amarok has yet to be officially revealed, but the German carmaker has at least released a design sketch to show off its more muscular design.
The rest remains up for speculation, but you can pretty much expect it to be powered by Ford’s 2-litre turbodiesel engine.
Yet despite the shared mechanicals, the company assures us that it will look and feel like a true VW product.
Last we heard the new Amarok was due to enter local production, alongside the Ranger in Silverton, in 2022.