Sao Paulo, Brazil - There was a time, particularly in the early 2000s, when half-tonne bakkie buyers were spoiled for choice in South Africa. Opel offered the Corsa Ute, Ford still had the Bantam, and Fiat was selling the Strada, while even Malaysian importer Proton managed to source an entrant for this market.
Now we’re left with just one entrant in the form of Nissan’s NP200, but across the Atlantic, the Brazilian half-tonne market has continued to evolve. While Volkswagen’s Saveiro is the one that most readily comes to mind, Fiat is still selling the Strada over there too, and the current model is a heavily facelifted version of the vehicle we knew in South Africa.
The Strada will soon turn over a new leaf though, with Fiat’s Brazilian division having released the first teaser sketch of the all-new model that’s due to be revealed soon. The new Strada boasts a far more modern and striking design that borrows a lot from its larger Toro sibling, and it’s also set to be offered as a double cab for the first time. It remains to be seen, however, whether Fiat will continue to offer it in single cab and extended cab guises.
The Italian carmaker is not saying much else about the new Strada, but logic dictates that it will be based on the Brazilian division’s latest compact model, the Argo, which has replaced the Palio - which was the Strada’s original donor car. The most likely engine choices are Fiat’s 1.3-litre and 1.8-litre normally aspirated units.
Although a vehicle like this would certainly have potential on the South African market it’s highly unlikely that Fiat would offer it locally as the relatively small volumes would not justify the costs associated with creating a right-hand-drive version. Which is precisely the problem VWSA appears to have with the Saveiro..