In this day and age, it is really difficult to choose a specific bakkie or 4x4. Actually, I think it comes down to your personal preference and budget. I had the privilege of taking a few of the big boys around the 4x4 track at Rola Motor City situated between the R102 and the N2 in Somerset West on Saturday 14 March.
So, Craig from Outdoor 4x4 put me in the new Mitsubishi Triton. Well was I blown away by this Japanese bakkie. I mean Japanese. The only Japanese bakkie I know is the Toyota Hilux, but we will get to this particular bakkie in a bit.
The Triton probably has the most aggressive look of all the bakkies present on this day. Dark-grey body, smoked headlight lenses, bulky tires on big black rims to round it all off. The interior should have been that of the Mercedes Benz X-class for that matter. It is only when you look at the steering wheel that you realize you are in a Mitsubishi. The Triton cleared the 4x4 course comfortably, no hang-ups or scrapings of the undercarriage. To the point and seamless like a boss lady
From the Triton into the well-known Ford Ranger double-cab. Well, this time I sat in the back seat and it was quite spacious. Enough for at least two teenagers and maybe a dog; you will need the two teenagers later to help push the bakkie. Luckily it is made out of aluminium so it won’t be too heavy to push. Jokes aside, the Ford Ranger impressed me none the less. It went through the course smooth and without any trouble or drama, which is unconventional for an American.
Toyota Hilux is synonym to “koffie en beskuit” in South Africa. We all grew up with at least someone in the family driving one. They were mainly used on farms or in rugged and rustic areas. They are tough bakkies that just never die. Nowadays they are in the same boat as any other bakkie and are even used as the “Sondag-kerk-kar”. They are easier and more sophisticated to drive but “tougherer”. Because it’s a Toyota Hilux nothing can really be said about the 4x4 track experience. The Hilux had the track for breakfast and lunch. It can do anything and more. The one thing that I would highlight is to bring the “cockpit” into the 21st century. You do have the colour screen with SatNav and so on, but it is a little bland. It needs some more wasabi. The new Hilux is honestly a looker from all exterior angles, and it makes my choice in bakkies so much harder. Domo Arigato Toyota Hilux for your years of service here in the southern parts of Africa.
Joining the Germans, this particular Mercedes Benz X-class probably has the best body-kit apart from the Mitsubishi Triton. Tremendous tires with black rims. Wide, white body with two black racing stripes down the centre, and with what seems to be bicycle racks on the back to pick up the cyclist’s bikes after you drove over them with that wide body-kit… but it definitely makes a statement on the road and on the track. It’s a pity there were some metallic scraping sounds on the 4x4 track due to the protective cover-plates under the vehicle which made the 4x4 experience a little worrisome for damaging your bakkie. I mean,
will you actually be going off road with this road monster? The interior is a little boring- It’s a Mercedes Benz, after all! Well, technically this is a Nissan Nivara that went to a German private school to earn it’s stars and price tag. What did impress me was the 360° live camera that it had on board, sadly displayed on a very cheap looking iPad knockoff. At least you can see where the obscured obstacles are; those that you are not able to see while missioning around in your expensive “Nivara” X-class.
“Das is Auto” Amarok V6 is, and will, probably stay a favourite of mine. I did not take it on the 4x4 track, but I was able to take it on the road, as well as the white, wide Mercedes Benz X and a Ford Ranger Wildtrak. The Amarok did not fail to impress but like the Hilux it’s interior needs a little allspice for that something extra in the “cockpit”.
It seems that the trend is that bakkies need to feel and handle like cars on the road, where in the past they were hard and rugged. Now they are comfortable and more ‘sophisticated’. Either or, any of these will make a good getaway “car” if needs be. And by getaway, I mean taking it up the coast or into the wild Karoo, not robbing a bank to pay off your installments, especially on the Merc.
All these bakkies went above and beyond my expectations apart from the Mercedes X-class that was a bit overrated. In the end it comes down to what bakkie you prefer and what you bank allows you to buy. If I had to choose, I will probably go with the Volkswagen Amarok just because I am a big VW fan.
A big thank you to everyone at Rola Motor City & The Rola Motor Group for making this possible. Also a big thank you to Craig from Outdoor 4x4 and his team for taking me around the 4x4 track.