For the longest time, the top selling car in South Africa wasn’t a car. It was a bakkie. The Hilux. And then along came a Ford Ranger, a bakkie so powerful, so big and so devastatingly handsome that it became the top-selling car in South Africa. Even though it wasn’t a car.
But Hilux lovers will argue that this is not a fair test of worth. You see, the current Hilux is some ten years old, and a model that’s at the very end of its lifespan, whereas the Ranger is a mere four years out of the starting blocks. Wait till the all-new Hilux goes on sale early next year, say the Toyota fans; that’s when you’ll see which is really the best bakkie of them all. The truth is that it actually doesn’t matter which bakkie is better, because they’re both better than bakkies have ever been.
In our view, it was actually VW that changed the way that bakkies were designed. Like it or loathe it, the Amarok was the first bakkie to include all the safety systems that we take for granted in equivalently-priced cars − Wolfsburg asked the question of why people in bakkies are any less important than people in cars. (Sure, it turns out that they fudged their emissions figures − but who’s perfect?)
So, this new Ranger isn’t a whole new bakkie; it’s a midlife nip and tuck.