In America, the best-selling vehicle is a bakkie (Ford’s F-150) and locally you are likely to see a new Hilux more than any other current model year vehicle.
As the bakkie market continues to remain insulated from much of the disruption being experienced by most other global automotive segments, manufacturers are seizing the opportunity to expand their bakkie offerings.
That means a raft of new bakkie products and innovations which is of benefit to the diversity and novelty available in the world of single- and double-cabs. Below is our podium of three bakkies which made the most impact in 2018.
Third-place: Ford Ranger Raptor
Customers complained, and Ford finally answered. For years Ford bakkie fans who lived in right-hand drive markets have pined for a Ranger capable of imitating much of the renowned F-150 Raptor’s amazing off-road performance. Ford’s solution to these demands finally crystallised this year, with the Ranger Raptor.
Although some wished for it to have a more powerful engine than the 2.2-litre turbodiesel, it’s true in its design merit as a true 2/3rds F-150 Raptor.
Image: Sergio Davids/Wheels24
A strengthen structure and custom off-road suspension components mean this Ranger can go faster over terrain that many other bakkies prefer to avoid completely.
The South African build connection, with Ranger Raptor being assembled in Silverton, makes Ranger Raptor a worthy third-place finisher in our rating of most important bakkies of 2018.
Runner-up: Rivian RT1
Although only a prototype due for production in 2020, this Californian electric car start-up’s double-cab is evidence that battery power could work amazingly well in bakkies.
Clever stowage solutions ensure an enormous volume of weather-proof utility space, with a 330-litre 'frunk' where the traditional internal combustion engine would be, a load-through tunnel across the RT1’s width behind the cab and 95-litre utility bins under the seats.
Featuring some of highest capacity battery packs yet seen in an electric vehicle, the RT1 double-cab delivers 562kW into its all-wheel drivetrain, which converts to supercar-humbling performance.
Acceleration is startling, with this battery bakkie claimed to run 0-100km/h in 3 seconds, whilst range anxiety is hardly an issue as the RT1 should roam for 600km before requiring a recharge.
Supercar fast with a 5t tow-rating, nearly double that of most double-cab rivals, the Rivian RT1 is a remarkable feat of electric vehicle engineering.
One hopes the company’s delivery ambition for 2020 doesn’t become a Tesla sequence of broken promises and delays. For the sheer awesomeness of its specification and power, the RT1 is worthy runner-up for 2018’s bakkie of the year.
Bakkie of the year: VW Tarok
The double-cab bakkie is an outstanding lifestyle vehicle but there are times when modern urbanisation and parking design can make driving one feel like living a trucker’s life.
Imagine a smaller version of the contemporary double-cab, retaining most of its utility and gravel travel ability, without the unnecessary bulk. That’s exactly what VW has done with its Tarok: a miniaturised Amarok.
Well, technically it’s a double-cab Tiguan, built on the same Golf7 platform, but in purpose, it’s everything you’d expect from Amarok.Tarok’s anchor appeal is its more liveable dimensions, suited to those who commute in traffic and park in overcrowded office garages.
You get something which isn’t anxiety generating to drive in a city, without sacrificing the traditional bakkie utility vehicle benefits. VW’s detailed the Tarok to appropriate bakkie specification too: it can carry 1 000kg on the back, has all-wheel drive for journeying sandy tracks and mild off-road work and best of all, looks terrific.
What Polo is to Golf, this Tarok can certainly become in relation to Amarok. Not confirmation for the South African market (yet), but it would undoubtedly be a huge success here and deserved to be rewarded as the best bakkie product innovation and concept of 2018.