Mitsubishi Triton 2,4 DI-D 4×4 AT
Price: R654 995
Power: 133 kW @ 3 500 r/min
Torque: 430 N.m @ 2 500 r/min
What Gerhard says:
“Proven and as strong as anything here, but not the most comfortable with no reach adjustment to the steering. Also, no recovery points in the rear.”
Preconceptions can be a funny thing. When the last Mitsubishi Triton squared up against six accomplished double-cab rivals in our last Bakkie Shootout in 2017, few of the test team (including South African rally legend Hannes Grobler) held much hope for its chances. Yet, with its forgiving ride and comfy cabin garnering it team-wide plaudits on-road and its durable frame and grippy AWD underpinnings acquitting themselves well off the blacktop, the Triton came within a whisker of unseating the 2,0-litre biturbodiesel Amarok for top honours.
The field is broader this year and while the Triton’s R654 995 sticker price still sees it competitively placed in the overall value stakes, it’s got some capable rivals undercutting it here. Although it’s technically one of the newer entrants, the Triton’s compact packaging and relatively analogue cabin interface mean it feels a generation behind in this company. Thanks to the softness of its suspension and relaxed, somewhat heavy tiller, it exhibits that strange Mitsubishi off-roader trait of feeling like it’s already run-in despite being fresh off the showroom floor. Given that it’s a mechanically robust product, it could be likened to a hard-as-nails pair of hiking boots that’s just been nicely worn in.
Mitsubishi did give it a much-welcomed visual update with the adoption of the firm’s Dynamic Shield nose treatment and several cues drawn from the likes of the Eclipse Cross, inside and out. The 2,4-litre turbodiesel ‘four feels old-school in its languid interaction with the automatic transmission but those outputs remain competitive and we know the Triton is one of the more fluid and assured members of the segment in the on-road ride and handling stakes. If it can emulate its off-road performance in the previous Shootout, there’s a good chance the often-overlooked Triton could cause yet another upset in this contest.
Nissan Navara 2,5 DDTi Pro-4X 4×4 AT
Price: R740 000
Power: 140 kW @ 3 600 r/min
Torque: 450 N.m @ 2 000 r/min
What Gerhard says:
“Love the looks. However, the torque delivery and automatic gearbox feel like it needs recalibration. Big, flat bonnet hampers driver visibility, otherwise, very impressive off-road.”
Finished in purposeful-looking Warrior Grey and studded with black and red-accented trim garnishes that form part of the range-topping Pro-4X package, the new Rosslyn-built Navara was probably one of the more eye-catching additions to the line-up. Although, the Nissan is about more than just chiselled features. While the inside is suitably leather-trimmed and the facia car-like in its execution – it plays host to a wealth of tech accessed via an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system – its underpinnings are tuned with a balance of workhorse and weekend activities in mind.
Something of an anomaly in this gathering, the Navara dispenses with leaf-supported rear suspension in favour of coil-sprung dampers. It’s a setup that, in principle, would provide a more settled ride on broken surfaces while still being tuned to handle load-carrying duties. Nissan has retuned the power steering to better suit this rugged setup for on-road use.
The execution is hit and miss; wheel travel off-road is impressive but that payload-related stiffening unearths some unwelcome cabin-shake when traversing bumpy surfaces. Thankfully, the steering – lacking the texture and feedback of some of the others on road – does feel a bit more connected than before and no longer requires constant correction at speed, as it often did in the old model.
Nissan’s YD25 turbodiesel is a seasoned campaigner that returns a healthy 140 kW and 450 N.m, tying it with the BT-50 as the most powerful four-cylinder unit in this group. It gels well with the seven-speed automatic transmission and remains fairly refined by one-tonner standards. It may sit at the upper end of the pricing pyramid here, yet, the Pro-4X is generously equipped, adding a wealth of safety features to the mix such as a 360-degree camera feed, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot and lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with emergency braking and a trailer stability system as part of its ESC module. What will the testers make of it?
Toyota Hilux 2,4 GD-6 4×4 Raider AT
Price: R627 900
Power: 110 kW @ 3 400 r/min
Torque: 400 N.m @ 1 600 r/min
What Gerhard says:
“I know it’s my bakkie, so you might say I’m biased, but a Hilux is always good value for money, great pedigree and reliable. It would have been great to do the performance tests with the 2,8 GD-6.”
No double cab comparison would be complete without what many South Africans consider the quintessential bakkie. We did have to scramble to get the Hilux into the mix for this comparative test and must thank Klipbokkop’s Gerhard Groenewald for availing us of his personal 2,4 GD-6 4×4 Raider automatic.
We are all familiar with the Toyota’s pedigree as a much-loved favourite of farmers, miners, nature conservancies and families, owing to its reputation for reliability and toughness. We’re also well aware of the perennial tussle between Toyota and Ford for top-tier placing in the local one-ton pickup sales stakes and we were keen to see just how some of the less-established players measured up to this stalwart of the segment.
This particular model occupies the middle of a vast Hilux double cab portfolio and its list of toys and extras may look modest when compared with its rivals; however, it is keenly priced, solidly constructed and is perhaps the best example of a no-nonsense workhorse that’s comfy enough to double as family transport in this company.
On paper, that 2,4-litre turbodiesel may look out of its depth but its ability to serve up that 400 N.m at a low 1 600 r/min and well-measured gearing means it’s pleasingly flexible and as up to the task of trundling along the tarmac as it is tackling terrain that sometimes leaves its competitors flagging.
Given the increasingly lifestyle-oriented proviso expected of double cabs these days, the Hilux may come across as spartan when lined up against its rivals but there’s no doubting that when things get tough, this could likely be the bakkie standing tallest.
Volkswagen Amarok 3,0 V6 TDI Highline 4Motion AT
Price: R921 900
Power: 190 kW @ 3 000 r/min
Torque: 580 N.m @ 1 400 r/min
What Gerhard says:
Stupendously fast but expensive, with 19-inch wheels that hamper capability in off-road scenarios. Wonderful tar road bakkie, though.
We know exactly what you’re thinking. Why didn’t we include the 2,0-litre biturbodiesel Highline 4×4 double-cab model to this year’s bakkie shootout? It would’ve made sense; that model’s 132 kW and 420 N.m compares favourably with the likes of the Ranger, BT-50 and Navara, while the more palatable R777 300 price wouldn’t have seen it sitting anywhere from R130 000 to more than R400 000 adrift of its rivals here.
But given that this will likely be the Amarok’s swansong performance in a CAR test before the all-new model arrives next year – not to mention the fun to be had by shuffling a wildcard into an otherwise closely aligned deck – it’s perhaps fitting that the wolf from Wolfsburg came our way.
From the off, we’ll make no bones about the fact this model’s steeper pricing and power output numbers will count both for and against its running. But the inclusion of the most powerful double cab on our market will nonetheless provide an interesting yardstick against which rivals can measure themselves.
Featuring a 3,0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine channelling 190 kW and a stump-pulling 580 N.m to Volkswagen’s 4Motion permanent AWD via an 8-speed automatic transmission, the Amarok is a veritable powerhouse in this company. As mentioned in the Ranger’s introduction, the Amarok acquits itself in a car-like manner, with taut body control under brisk directional changes and a ride that is impressively composed.
This model’s Highline specification is generous and includes such features as heated leather seats, front/rear parking sensors, a touchscreen infotainment system and 19-inch alloy wheels. While that V6 no doubt gives the Amarok the edge on tarmac and in a drag race, it will be interesting to see just how well the drivetrain manages to apply all that grunt to looser surfaces and obstacles requiring a measured touch.