Business is booming in the pick-up truck segment, with a new wave of buyers starting to appreciate the work hard/play hard characteristics of these super-tough vehicles. As you’ll see from our roundup of the best one-tonne pick-ups in the UK, there’s never been a better time to, er, pick one up.
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Even the premium carmakers fancy a slice of the pick-up pie. Hardly surprising, given some 650,000 units were registered across the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa) in 2015. Mercedes-Benz will launch its one one-tonne pick-up in 2017 and we’ve been to Stockholm for a preview of the pick-up concept. Called the X-Class (coolest never ever), it’s based on the Nissan Navara. We might even see an AMG version.
Such is the reputation of the Toyota Hilux, it has almost become the brand generic for the pick-up truck. You can thank a memorable appearance on Top Gear and an intrinsic link with revolutionaries and civil wars for its global fame. Today’s Hilux is more car-like than ever, but is still able to offer up to a 3.5 tonne towing capacity and 1 tonne payload. In the UK it’s powered by a 150hp 2.4-litre diesel engine with CO2 emissions of 185g/km.
If the Hilux has an arch-nemesis it’s this: the Mitsubishi L200. The Toyota might have the Invincible, but the L200 fights back with the Titan, Warrior and Barbarian. Have some of that. It’s able to offer a ‘best in class’ total load capacity of 4,090kg based on the load bed and trailer combined, while a claimed 42.8mpg provides a theoretical range of 700 miles from a single tank of diesel. Power is sourced from a 2.4-litre diesel engine, with CO2 emissions ranging from 169g/km to 189g/km.
Nissan NP300 Navara
Pick-up buyers have never had things so good, with the big players all treated to an overhaul over recent months. The Nissan NP300 Navara is probably the most car-like of all the pick-ups on sale, with a choice of two 2.3-litre diesel engines. In twin-turbocharged form, the Navara offers 332lb ft of torque and CO2 emissions as low as 167g/km. In single-turbo guise, the CO2 drops to 159g/km in two-wheel guise. If technology and a car-like interior top your list of priorities, this could be the pick-up for you.
The Isuzu D-Max stays true to its commercial roots, although a new version in 2017 should make it a little more lifestyle-friendly. Thanks to a five-year warranty and formidable off-road credentials, the D-Max is incredibly popular. A maximum 3,500kg towing weight and 1,085kg ensures the D-Max is up for just about any challenge.
Climb up to the Volkswagen Amarok cabin and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re sat in a standard road car – the interior is that good. It might not be the cheapest pick-up on sale, but the top trim Highline model is well equipped. All models offer a 3,000kg towing capacity, while the Highline automatic adds an extra 200kg. A Touareg-sourced V6 TDI engine will go on sale in 2017, offering a punchy 224hp and a mighty 405lb ft of torque. The 0-62mph time is a hot hatch-worrying 7.9 seconds.
The Ford Ranger was refreshed early in 2016, with a raft of changes to ensure it stays in touch with its Japanese rivals. It features much of the tech you’ll find in Ford’s standard road cars, including Ford Sync2 and a host of optional safety devices. You can tow up to 3,500kg and wade through water up to 800mm deep. Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are as low as 43.5mpg and 171g/km respectively.
The SsangYong Musso is back – albeit in a different form. The original Musso was a rough and ready SUV, while the new Musso is a double-cab pick-up with prices starting from a headline-grabbing £15,995 plus VAT. Standard specification is generous, while the 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine offers 295lb ft of torque. It might be a little more rugged than its aforementioned rivals, but the low price and five-year limitless mileage will appeal to some buyers.
Great Wall Steed
The Great Wall Steed will go down in history as the first Chinese car to be offered for sale in the UK with a Chinese badge. Like the Musso, the Steed can’t offer car-like dynamics or a class-leading interior, but a six-year warranty and prices from £14,998 plus VAT make it a tempting proposition for those on a budget.
The one-tonne pick-up segment is so buoyant, other carmakers are keen to grab a slice of the pie. In 2015, some 40,000 medium-size pick-ups were registered in the UK – a jump of 20% compared to the previous year. But rather than go to the expense of creating a new pick-up, some manufacturers are turning to badge-engineering in order to create a new truck. The Fiat Fullback is mechanically identical to the Mitsubishi L200: the same chassis, the same 2.4-litre diesel engine, the same performance and economy figures. Looks a tad more appealing than the L200, mind.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance has delivered a number of spot-the-difference vehicles, with the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar the most notable example. In 2017, Renault will launch the X-Trail based Koleos, as well as this: the Navara-based Alaskan. It’s mechanically identical to the Navara, but will feature huge Renault badges.
Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6
We’re adding a wildcard to the mix, in the formidable shape of the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6. Admittedly, this isn’t your average pick-up, but a truck developed for the Australian military ought to be able to cope with a trip to Wickes and some light off-roading at the weekend.
The Ford F-Series is America’s best-selling vehicle, and while it’s not officially available in the UK, some importers will offer the big truck to order. David Boatwright Partnership has a range of F-150s in stock, with engines ranging from a 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost to a full-fat 5.0-litre V8.
Similarly, David Boatright is also offering a range of Rams in the UK, plus an ability to order any colour or specification not in stock. Its website quotes a price from £38,995 plus VAT for a “top specification crew cab”, which is powered by a 5.7-litre V8 Hemi engine. Not convinced – you could import a Texan-built Toyota Tundra, also powered by a 5.7-litre V8 engine.
Skoda Felicia Fun
No need to adjust your set, we know the Skoda Felicia Fun isn’t a new pick-up. But not everybody is in the market for a new truck, so we thought we’d add a few favourites from the past. The very yellow Skoda featured a pair of sliding rear seats that could be pulled into the load bay. Charlie Dimmock was a fan.
Remember the Proton Jumbuck? Probably not, but for a few years the Wira-based pick-up was offered for sale in the UK. The 1.5-litre petrol-engined Jumbuck offered a 645kg payload and a load capacity of 800 litres. What’s more, the Jumbuck was enhanced by Lotus handling. We’re not kidding.
Neither the Felicia Fun or Jumbuck could offer four-wheel drive. No, if you wanted an authentic off-road experience, you needed the Subaru Brat, also known as the MV, Brumby or 284. Visit the countryside this weekend and you’ll see one enjoying active service on a farm. The body might be crumbling, but the mechanicals will still be going strong.
Scene tax ensures the Volkswagen Caddy commands a premium on the used car market, but retro pick-ups don’t come any cooler than this.
The Daihatsu Hijet is the very antithesis of that six-wheeled Mercedes. It’ll be cheap to run, but don’t expect a cosseting ride. Still want that G63 AMG? Yeah, you probably do.