Tag: Bakkie

Mercedes-Benz debuts their double-cab X-Class bakkie

Mercedes-benz X-Class

Mercedes-Benz X-Class released

After much anticipation, the cover has finally dropped off the Mercedes Benz X-Class double-cab bakkie. The focus of the X–Class is heavily on the combination of luxury and utility, all in a leisure focused package. The global launch held over the past two days revealed styling that was more conservative to that of the rather handsome concept model and covered the crucial details regarding the bakkie. The X-Class shares its base with the Nissan Navara – the underpinnings are the same and feature a car-like multi-link coil suspension setup, which proves for an improvement in ride quality over the traditional rear leaf spring setups found in the rest of the segment.

Mercedes-benz X-Class

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class will feature a high level of customization to create a level of individuality, suited to the needs of its owners.  Three trim variants will be offered, the top spec Power Line, the Progressive line and the Pure line, which offers a greater focus on specific elements such as utility or luxury, and thus are more catered to the uses of the individual consumers.

Powertrain

The X220d will be the entry level model, powered by a turbo diesel 2.3-litre engine that delivers 120 kW and 403 N.m, driving the rear wheels only. The X250d and X250d  4Matic both share a 140 kW/ 450 N.m bi-turbo version on the same 2.3-litre engine, driving either the rear wheels or all four. Later, a turbo diesel V6 will join the line up as the X350d 4Matic, the top spec model offering a healthy 190 kW and 550 N.m driving all four wheels exclusively. The transmission choices will be either a 6-speed manual or an optional 7-speed automatic.  A choice between one of five driving modes via a Dynamic Select toggle allows for Comfort, Eco, Sport, Manual and Off-road configurations to be selected.

Mercedes-benz X-Class

Interior

The level of equipment will be comprehensive with the Mercedes-Benz X-Class being a dubbed “the Mercedes amongst pickups”, the cabin is well appointed and includes an integrated command Online multimedia infotainment system, with voice control, smartphone based internet access and Satellite navigation. The lesser Audio 20 USB and CD systems are also available. The infotainment units are controlled by the same floating display found in the passenger cars.  Live traffic updates are communicated through the integrated SIM card and the Mercedes Me Portal account. The seats can be optioned with leather, electronic control and heating and offer ISOFIX attachments in the rear.

Mercedes-benz X-Class

Safety

The list of safety equipment is equally impressive as the X-Class offers 7 airbags, Active Brake Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Trailer Stability Assist, Traffic Sign Assist and Tyre pressure monitoring systems. The use of high strength steels also ensures the strong passenger cell and deformable front and rear sub structure are able to help reduce the effects of forces on passengers during accidents.

4×4 Toys

The higher spec 4Matic models come standard with a selectable or permanent Four-wheel drive system, offering low range and optional diff-lock on the rear axle. DSR or Downhill speed regulation is also standard on the 4Matic models. A 28.8-degree approach and 23.8-degree departure angles help to provide for sufficient clearance when off the beaten track with a ground clearance of 202 mm at the front and 221 mm with the optional raised suspension.

The X-Class hits European markets in November of 2017, with us South Africans and our ‘mates’ the Aussies only getting the X-Class in 2018.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class Pricing

South African pricing is still unknown at this point, but as an indication the European prices starts 37,294 Euros, which for the sake of context is less than the 40 995 Euros needed for a base VW Amarok with a V6, let’s hope the South African pricing is just as competitive.

 

The Isuzu KB X-Rider In South Africa

Isuzu KB X-Rider

The Isuzu KB is what I would describe as a decent bakkie, in the same way that Pepsi is a decent alternative to Coca-Cola – there are many things I dislike about it, but overall it seems to do a good job in relation to its purpose.

Isuzu KB X-Rider

For me, the KB never had an appeal to a younger or even an adventurous audience, however, and came across as being a little boring. It needed a little something extra and by little, I actually mean a lot. We’ll now we might have it, in the shape of X-Rider.

X-Rider is a variant of the KB which was previously available as a limited option only, but has now been added as a permanent fixture to the KB range.

Isuzu KB X-Rider

What’s different with the Isuzu KB X-Rider?

Firstly, this model is based on the 4×2 KB 250, which features a strong 2.0-litre diesel producing 100 kW and 320 N.m.

From a visual perspective, the X-Rider features black accents on many areas of the vehicle such as the front bumper, side bars and sports bar, b-pillar and the 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels.

Isuzu KB X-Rider

Further to this, the Isuzu KB X-Rider features a heavy duty tow bar as standard which provides a braked towing capacity of 2100 kg.These are the main adjustments to the exterior and after looking at the images, it does look a lot more exciting.

The interior follows the same direction with a full leather appointment, including the steering wheel, and red accents found in the stitching and logo embroidered into the seats. A piano black finish can also be found amongst the trim to aid this less “workhorse” and more “twerkhorse” look and feel.

Isuzu KB X-Rider

In terms of Tech, the Isuzu KB X-Rider will come with keyless entry, steering wheel controls, projector headlights and air conditioning – nothing too fancy then, but then again, who turns to the bakkie segment when looking for “fancy”?

Overview

The X-Rider is definitely a more exciting version of the KB and does distance itself from the trusty workhorse feel that the Isuzu KB has come to own.

Although this vehicle will appeal to a younger more adventurous audience with it’s appearance, I feel that it’s missing one thing, 4- wheel drive.

Isuzu KB X-Rider

Currently only available as a 4×2 and with low-profile tyres as standard, it’s obvious that this vehicle will not be so suited to the Kingsley Holgate amongst us…Hopefully this is something Isuzu is considering for the future and will release an X-Rider based on the 4×4 KB 300.

The benefit of no 4×4 is the price, however, and the X-Rider is available from just R382 500 in the crew-cab variant. Not bad if you consider what you’re getting, but from a purpose point of view, it doesn’t really make much sense.

Nissan Navara Launches In South Africa

We Drive The New Nissan Navara With Its 5 Link Suspension System.

Can you remember the type of person you were, or what you were doing in your life twelve years ago? In twelve years, I have left high school, dabbled in higher education, moved continents and tied the proverbial knot. I am a walking example, then, that a lot can happen in twelve years. That is the same period of time that has lapsed since the launch of the original Navara, so one could say that it was high time that they launch a new one.

Things are always on the move in the automotive world – from a brand’s perspective, being left behind can happen in the flash of an eye should the manufacturer decide to rest on their laurels or even just cease to remain relevant. This is the biggest threat to the new Nissan Navara in South Africa – have their previous customers moved on? Have consumers forgotten about the bakkie that was once considered one of the best? Making the situation worse is the fact that the South African launch on the new Navara has come nearly 2 years after it was launched to the rest if the world, so the all-new Navara certainly had a mountain to climb, so to speak.

According to Nissan, the reason for this is that South Africa has much harsher road conditions and as such, the new Navara needed to be adapted. Interesting, then, that this doesn’t seem to be a problem for every other manufacturer…

It’s fair to say then that the new Nissan Navara needs to be an excellent product in order to regain the attention of the South African market. Nissan knows this, which is why the Navara is not just newer and prettier, it also has a trick up its sleeve.

This trick is 5-link suspension system, which is a very clever trick indeed. Traditionally on bakkies, the leaf spring suspension system has always been the option manufacturers headed for. It’s an older system which consists of large steel bands which compress under load and when under this load, they also provide more brake pressure. This sort of system does decent job, but only really when the vehicle is under load.

Many can attest, however, to the rather unpleasant and bouncy nature of that conventional bakkie ride that we don’t really adore, with rearward instability being the rotten cherry on top.

Bakkies are no longer just work vehicles and have become lifestyle cars that need to tick more than just the rough and ready box. Single athletes, adventurous couples, camping families and owners of sandals all love the versatility and perceived safety as well as the spaciousness of bakkies. So it’s only right, then, that as the market for these vehicles evolves, so does the technology behind them.

The Nissan Navara is the first in its segment to feature this type of suspension system and there are many benefits, such as better handling and a more stability – we experienced this on a high speed dirt road at the Navara local launch and it felt very stable and most notable was the absence of the loose rear end.

If you’d like a little in depth detail on the 5-link suspension system, Practical Motoring explain it very well here.

Other changes to the Navara included an optional new 7-speed automatic gearbox, with the 6-speed manual being the standard option. These are both mated to a 2.3-litre 4-pot diesel, producing 140 kW/405 N.m. It’s not the most powerful bakkie on the market, but those figures are plenty, especially with the torque peaking low in the rev range at 1 500 rpm.

Overall then, the Navara is a very attractive vehicle and just as its predecessor did 12 years ago, impresses with its interior and exterior design. It’s also bigger than before, has more interior space and has a total weight reduction of 176 kg.

Having spent many hours behind the wheel of the new Navara during the launch which involved a beautiful coastal route from Cape Town to Lamberts Bay, we can confidently say that the Navara took it all in its stride. The overall dynamics, styling and feel of the car most certainly bring to mind the characteristics of an SUV.

With the pricing starting at R514 000, it is also very competitively priced within segment and I personally feel that even though there has been a very long wait for this vehicle, it has what it takes to recapture the attention of the market. This has already been proven by the fact that Nissan have sold over 300 Navaras since the launch in mid-march.

Full pricing is as follows, with the 4×2 double-cap expected to reach SA near the end of 2017.

Pricing and range

Nissan Navara 2.3 DDTT 4×4 SE Double Cab MT – R514 900 (incl. VAT)

Nissan Navara 2.3 DDTT 4×4 LE Double Cab –MT – R565 900 (incl. VAT)

Nissan Navara 2.3 DDT 4×4 LE Double Cab AT –R597 900 (incl. VAT)

 

Black leather seats with heater function optional on LE grade models for R13 000 (incl. VAT).

 

Why the Toyota Hilux TRD prototype would be a major seller in South Africa

The bakkie market in South Africa has undoubtedly got a very loyal fan base. Month in and month out there are thousands of pick-ups sold in the country, with the two biggest competing brands being Ford and Toyota. Ford has risen to the top recently because not only is their offering very capable, the Ranger also looks very good. It’s the closest South Africans can get to a hardcore looking truck without paying the premium of importing something like a Dodge Ram. In fact I personally know people who have bought the Ford Ranger purely based on its looks. Most of them have probably not even used low range on their cars but as long as they look the part, their happy. Some have even taken their Fords to another level by adding the infamous Raptor kit, making it even more menacing in appearance.

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The ruggedness of the Ford Ranger Wildtrack is something the Toyota Hilux is missing. The Hilux is a pretty car but note the use of the word pretty, something that shouldn’t be said of a bakkie. What the Hilux needed in South Africa was the look of the Hilux TRD prototype that was revealed two years ago in Bangkok. This Hilux is what our market needs because it looks fantastic. Flared wheel arches, a larger and more aggressive bumper and tasteful bits in black make for an aesthetically pleasing look. To add to that, there is black side skirting on the car and red stickers on the bonnet and on the side of the vehicle. The reason why this car would do well in the country is because the traditional bakkie buyer is not the only person interested in this type of vehicle nowadays.

hilux-trd2

The traditional buyer is one that is looking for quality and reliability, something Toyota has gotten right over the years. Generally, these buyers will use their cars on various terrains and the cars will be used to their full capacity. The newer bakkie buyer though is generally more lifestyle based, so the car needs to work well for a weekend getaway whilst doing a good job as a normal daily drive. As a result, aesthetic appeal has become of significant importance for many buyers hence the success of the Ford Ranger. If the Toyota Hilux TRD were to come into production and was sold in South Africa, it would be a great answer to the Ford. The merger of the reliable nameplate coupled with some amazing looks would make for a very appealing product. The question then is will Toyota make this rugged machine? If so our Toyota lovers would be very pleased. Especially since the range already sells a boat load every month.

hilux-trd

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Fiat Fullback: Can it cut it with today’s bakkie market?

Fiat Fullback Driven Review

Motorist Digital Magazine – Edition 08

That awkward moment when people ask you if you’re driving a Toyota Hilux, but your response is “no, it’s a Fiat”. This seemed to happen often whilst we had the Fiat Fullback on test, and the truth is that you can understand why people kept making this assumption. The side profile of the new Fiat Fullback does bear a resemblance to the iconic Hilux. People’s reaction to the realisation that this is a Fiat bakkie differed significantly though. Some were disappointed while others were intrigued, we, on the other hand, were more nervous than anything else.

fullback-1

Knife to a gun fight?

The reason for this nervousness was because this car is in the ring with some fantastic heavyweights and naturally you want the underdog to win. With Toyota, Ford, Isuzu and Volkswagen dominating the market, can the same people that make the Fiat 500 produce something that can please the local Bakkie market? The thing about all the newer Bakkies is that they work well off-road, but it’s their on-road “car-like” personas that make them so popular. The traditional bakkie has been turned into a lifestyle vehicle, and we wanted to see how good the Fullback will do as an everyday car.

The Fiat Fullback is not an entirely new car though; it is very closely related to the Mitsubishi Triton. Although not SA’s favourite bakkie, it has proved itself as tough and reliable over the years. Styling wise the Italian influence works for the car as it looks modern and somewhat good looking. The interior is still more in tune with a pick up rather than a passenger car. The infotainment is pretty average, but so are most of the competitor’s systems too. As long as we can pair a phone and plug in a USB, we’re happy, and thankfully both were possible in the test unit we received.  The Fullback’s interior is large and roomy, and one would be able to fit some adults in the front and rear with ease. The ride of the car is also very good for on-road use, even with the rear unloaded, often you tend to bounce around in an unloaded bakkie, but the ride quality was quite supple in the Fiat and on par with the some of the big guns.

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The double cab gives you two options, a 4×2 with 100kW/324Nm and a 4×4 producing 131kW/400Nm. Both use a 2.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine; we had the latter at our disposal. The 4×4 has plenty torque and will no doubt not disappoint those looking for a powerful bakkie. The cars shortfall is the manual gearbox which is reminiscent of an old school truck. The gear changes really need some muscle to engage and when missed, the grinding noise makes you feel like you’ve failed at life. After a few days of understanding the way the car drives, it became easier to operate and more enjoyable as a result.

For those looking to get dirty, the Fullback is capable of climbing up and down rocky passes, as it has a 30-degree approach angle and a 22-degree departure angle. It can also travel laterally up to 45 degrees, so you can rest assured that the average city dweller who likes to go on excursions will be able to do so. The biggest question then with this car is why? Why buy this car over the competition? People buy the Hilux because of its reputation and the fact that you can generally get parts even in the most remote places. Others buy a Ford Ranger because it is the coolest bakkie hands down and it can still perform. The Amarok, on the contrary, is probably the best car-like bakkie you can get and even though it doesn’t sell as well as the others, it still has its place. An Isuzu buyer has probably grown up with KB’s in the house from an early age, so again we ask what makes the Fullback so special? Yes it looks good, and it’s comfortable, but unfortunately,  it’s not better than its competitors. In a segment where brand loyalty is probably at its highest, all we can do is wish Fiat the best with this car.  It’s not a bad product, but they will have to do much more to take on the best.

Prices:

Single Cab Petrol

:R 232,900

Double Cab 4×2

:R 402,900

Double Cab 4×4

:R 468,900

 

A Mercedes-Benz Bakkie – Would you buy one?

Over recent years we have seen the Pickup or Bakkie market change, instead of the classic workhorse, Bakkies are used more for commercial and private sectors, simultaneously. Not only have they adapted into vehicles that look and feel great, they also have plenty of space for passengers, especially the double cab models.

Mercedes have cottoned onto this and released the first concept images of their new  X – Class. Mercedes say they will change the segment of mid-size pickups by releasing the world’s first premium Bakkie, fair enough. There are two model variants, the first being entitled “stylish explorer.” As you can see from the designs, this is a more upmarket urban vehicle which maybe gets used for a cross-border family trip once in a while. The interior is true Mercedes style with leathers, woods, and shiny metal. Although being a Bakkie, I can’t imagine this vehicle will be lugging around too much construction/building materials during its life. I feel its more aimed at the owner or big boss of a construction company or architectural firm, maybe once in a while a spanner and screwdriver might slip into the back.

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The second is the X Class “powerful adventurer.” This vehicle, as the name suggests have been aimed at those kinds of people who like to go out, explore and conquer many terrains and lands. This model is my kind of vehicle; it features massive ground clearance, big, chunky off-road tires measuring 35 inches high, by 11 inches wide, the wild offroad styling is finished off by an electric front winch. The interior is still luxurious but has more rugged, out there kind of feel. The Powerful Adventurer is the kind of vehicle which would be loaded up with surfboards and driven over the border into Namibia when the Skeleton Bay surf is firing. Both variants will contain the classic Mercedes tech such as online connected drive systems, lots of sensors, fancy suspension systems and the like. Regarding engines, Mercedes have said top-of-the-line models will be powered by a V6 Diesel, coupled with a very technical four-wheel drive system.

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Mercedes are aiming the X Class at five markets with one of them being the successful adventurer/extreme sports person.( They will need to be successful to afford one of these) Another target market is active families with an “affinity” to premium products( See above, once is a while cross-border holiday). The X class is also aimed at trend-conscious individualists, business owners and landowners in South Africa.

These vehicles are targeting for a late 2017 launch, the question for me is price, the X class is a much more premium vehicle than the R600k Wildtrack, so how much more is it going to cost? Unfortunately for most, I feel this vehicle is going to be out of their league.

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