The tougherest of them all – How do you quantify bakkie toughness and practicality? Granted, each entrant has a finite tow and payload capacity and several tie-down hooks to speak to its practicality. And challenges like our drag test go some way to elucidate their robustness. But in many ways – as we see in this category’s scores – toughness is a state of mind … a feeling, a faith in the mechanicals. Ironically, it’s quite a subjective decision; a euphemism for trust when you think about it. The bakkie you’d most want to drive across the Namib desert and trust it will get you to the other side safely? Yes! The double cab you’d think nothing of taking north of the border, trusting it won’t breakdown … but even if it did, it could be easily mended? Now we’re talking.
The P-Series, T8 and Pik Up are undoubtedly strong, sturdy bakkies, and will continue to improve with each evolution, but they’re still something of an unknown quantity in terms of reliability and durability. They’re also not as comfortable when the slog gets hard. The D-Max, by contrast, revelled in the rougher conditions and found its stride as the difficulty of the challenges ramped up, claiming a hard-fought third place. The BT-50 completed the off-road course without incident, although its metallic Rock Grey paintwork and low running boards had a hard time of it.
Despite being the resident looker, the Navara is no show pony, it demonstrated its steely side when the going got tough, making it one of the better off-road steers here, and putting it mid-pack alongside the brawny Amarok and Triton.
Once again, far from backing down from the fight, the Hilux and Ranger were left slugging it out upfront. The clash of the titans. After sampling each bakkie for a full day in the dunes, like a rugby TMO decision, the differences were infinitesimal with adjudicators left searching for any reason why they “couldn’t award the try” to either. In the end, it came down to a feeling, a faith, and the vote went the way of the Hilux. Oh, and because whenever one of the convoy got stuck in the sand, the Hilux was despatched to pull them out.