31 August 2001

PICK-UPS GET

ALL STYLISH

Do you need style,

practicality or just good value

for money from your next

farm pick-up? Geoff Ashcroft

takes a look at some of the

models on offer

DESPITE some unresolved issues surrounding the ability to reclaim VAT on double-cab pick-ups, the market – in two and four-wheel drive versions – continues to grow.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), year-to-date figures until the end of July show the pick-up sector swelling to almost 7000 sales.

Top of the tree is Mitsubishi with a 29.5% share, Ford is in second place on 26.8%, followed by Toyota in third spot.

Mitsubishis popularity, no doubt, comes from a recently swollen range. The L200 buyer can now choose from the L200GL, L200 Animal Cab, L200 4-Life and the recently introduced Triton double-cab powered by a 3 litre V6 petrol engine.

The Triton is Mitsubishis first petrol derivative of the L200 pick-up. It develops a whopping 178bhp at 5000rpm and 188lb ft of torque at 4500rpm. Transmission options extend to manual or auto box versions.

It also offers a wealth of standard equipment, including power steering, engine immobiliser, limited slip differential in the rear axle, tilt adjustable steering column, central locking, front and rear electric windows and alloy wheels.

Available in black over silver, the Triton is priced at £17,899 for the manual version and £19,176 for the automatic. A three-year, 100,000 mile warranty and Inter European breakdown cover is also included.

&#42 Lavish options

Lavish options include satellite navigation, leather interior and the choice of a Style pack or an Off-Road pack with goodies such as stainless steel sidebars, alloy load area liner, stainless steel rear lamp guards and a chrome rim driving lamp set.

In a bid to draw buyers away from the "grey import" market, Mitsubishi has launched the L200 Trojan – a special edition doublecab pick-up. Four versions of the Trojan are offered and all use a 2.5 litre turbo diesel engine. Prices start from only £13,995.

Changes to Toyotas Hilux range have been aimed at increasing the payload and lightening the tax burden. Theres now a higher payload on single and double-cab 4WD pick-ups, with VAT now reclaimable on double-cab models for the first time, says the company.

Previously, the Hilux doublecab models were only capable of carrying a payload of less than 1000kgs, which meant a passenger car classification according to HM Customs and Excise legislation.

But with revisions, the doublecab 4WD EX and range-topping doublecab 4WD GX models can handle maximum payloads of 1035kgs and 1020kgs respectively. The Single Cab 4WD EX model also enjoys an increased payload of 1035kgs.

Fords Ranger is also suited to the recent changes in VAT regulations – both double-cab and super-cab models qualify for VAT exemption, says Ford, because their payload capacities are greater than 1000kg.

The Ranger marks Fords return to the UK pick-up market following withdrawal of the Sierra-based P100 pick-up over five years ago. The Ranger brings with it three body styles including regular or standard two-seat cab, the four-seat super-cab, and the five-seat double-cab.

Power comes from 2.5 litre, 12-valve diesel engines, in either turbo (109hp) or non-turbo (78hp) form, with 4WD available on regular and double-cab models.

Ford has equipped the Ranger with selectable 4WD, with both low and high 4WD gearing options. Front wheel hubs have the convenience of remote, electric locking which is automatically engaged when required and remains locked until disengaged via a switch on the dashboard.

A limited slip differential is standard as is a five-speed manual transmission, heated rear window, courtesy lights on all doors, door sill scuff plate, twin sun visors and day/night rear view mirror, plus a jack and tools. The Double Cab has electric power windows throughout. Super and Regular Cab have electric windows on the driver and passenger doors. Expect a visit to the dealer every 6000 miles for routine servicing.

Ranger prices start at £10,982, rising to £16,982 for the high rolling special edition XLT 4×4.

If you think Mazdas B Series pick-up looks familiar, you would be right. The Japanese maker shares its pick-up manufacturing with Ford – each owns 45% of the AutoAlliance factory in Thailand, where B-Series and Rangers are produced with help from two local manufacturers.

Like its blue oval badged stablemate, the B Series carries a three-year, 60,000 mile warranty, though its range differs with a flagship 4-Action lifestyle model, which boasts air con, CD player, alloy wheels, wheel arch extensions and side steps. Such a truck recognises that pick-ups are now expected to appeal to a wider audience looking for a rugged working vehicle which can easily be hosed down to provide the appeal of a sport utility vehicle for private use.

&#42 Three valves per cylinder

The Thai-built Mazda B Series is offered in single and double-cab 4×4 form, with the double-cab getting a 2.5 litre turbo diesel engine rated at 109hp. Both four-cylinder engines feature three valves per cylinder and a single overhead camshaft.

Tata has retained last years low prices for the latest Loadbeta pick-up and double-cab ranges to ensure its models remain the most affordable pick-up trucks in the country. The range includes the Loadbeta 2.0 TDI in standard and double cab guises, with each available in 2WD and 4WD. Payloads are 1140kg for the 2WD Loadbeta and 1080kg for the double cab.

Tata pick-ups now get a grey interior trim and more generous door pockets shaped to accommodate bottles or cans, while carpeting replaces the previous rubber mat floor covering.

Prices start at £7495, with a three-year, 60,000 mile warranty, six-year anti-perforation guarantee and one years free membership of Green Flag roadside recovery service.

Vauxhalls Brava also comes in single and double-cab guises, and with 2WD or 4WD. The range gets lower running costs, says the manufacturer, through the introduction of a three-year, 60,000 mile warranty to replace the one-year warranty previously offered. Payloads are in excess of 1000kg across the range, with the 2WD single cab offering the greatest carrying capacity, at 1120kg.

A 2.5 litre direct injection TD engine gives the Brava driver access to 76hp and 160Nm of torque, with emission levels helped by exhaust gas recirculation and an oxidising catalytic converter.

Nissan says VAT-registered business users can now reclaim £2943 of tax – included in the list price of its £19,950 Navara pick-up – following the introduction of a 1004kg payload. The high-spec practical 4×4 is powered by a 104hp, 2.5-litre turbo diesel engine and comes with a 2800kg towing capacity, two-tone paint, alloy wheels, chrome bumpers, CD player, air con, electric windows and central locking.

The Navara is one of five models offered by Nissan, with prices starting at £12,130 for the single cab 2WD model.

Those not so dependent on payload or off-road ability may be interested in the Daihatsu Hijet pick-up. The diminutive machine can carry up to 760kg and has the ability to return over 36mpg on the urban cycle, using its 1.3 litre petrol engine. Its price is £7229. &#42