THE UK’S FIRST & ONLY DEDICATED PICKUP & COMMERCIAL 4X4 MAGAZINE WWW.PICKUPAND4X4.CO.UK
ULTIMATE TWIN TEST
HILUX V RANGER
WE LOOK INTO 3.5T TOWING CAPACITIES & WHAT THEY MEAN FOR OPERATORS
PLUS! MERC’S GAMECHANGER
OFFROADING IN A UNIMOG
So 2016 turned out to be another great year for pickup truck sales, with registrations surpassing 45,000 units for the first time – a 15 percent increase on 2015. This is set to increase next year with two big names joining the club; Mercedes-Benz and Renault. There have been many explanations for this hike in demand. A lot of it has been credited to the health of the construction industry, which is expected to have grown a further 3.9 percent in 2016, and the demise of the Land Rover Defender. But they’re also becoming a lot more comfortable as we noted in our latest head to head. The all-new Toyota Hilux and facelifted Ford Ranger feature a wide range of comfort and driver assist systems, which means they’re a far more viable option for lifestyle customers. Despite this shift, we’re still keeping a firm focus on the utilitarian market. We travelled to the Black Forest to test the Euro-6 Unimog which is the only vehicle on sale in the UK to combine extreme 4x4 capabilities with heavy goods vehicle loading capacities. From myself and the rest of the team at Professional Pickup & 4x4, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Managing Director Tim Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org
Liam Campbell Editor
Editor Liam Campbell
20 | Unimog Test We push the Mercedes-Benz Unimog to its limits on an off-road course in the Black Forest.
4 | Industry News Catch up with all of the latest news from the pickup world.
10 | Towing Feature Many manufacturers now boast that their vehicle has a 3.5t towing capacity, but is it always safe?
Amy Bradley of www.amybradley.co.uk
Additional Contributing Oliver McDonald, Adam Frackelton,
A sneak peek into the spring issue, where we test out the Nissan Navara and the Iveco Daily 4x4.
Christian Hart, Robert Stuchberry
16 | Head 2 Head Two of the sector’s fiercest rivals, the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux, go head-to-head in battle.
22 | Next Issue
12 | Pickups at the IAA Show We travel to Europe’s largest commercial vehicle show to look at some exciting new metal.
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Professional Pickup & 4x4 is published by Commercial Vehicle TV Ltd. Registered company number: 08214195
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INTRODUCING THE…MALOO LSA
Yes, ok, I know what you’re thinking it’s not a real workhorse. But how can we turn down giving something this raunchy some coverage? The engine While it’s highly unlikely we’ll see Vauxhall’s new 6.2-litre VRX8 Maloo LSA out in the fields coupled up to a livestock trailer anytime soon, this beast has a lot going for it. With 536hp, the Maloo LSA is Britain’s most powerful light commercial vehicle (LCV). And with a top speed limited to 155mph and a 0-60mph time of 4.3 seconds (both estimated), it’s also the fastest too.
made to the vehicle’s chassis. Spring and damper rates have been stiffened to reduce body-roll and further improve turn-in, while the unique rear suspension module delivers improved rear stiffness and rear braking efficiency.
The inevitable drawbacks
On the road price for the 2016 VXR8 is £55,500 with six-speed manual transmission and £57,200 with the six-speed auto, with oil cooler.
Also now standard on the Maloo LSA are Launch Control (manual models only), a limited slip differential, satnav, Bluetooth, Onyx Leather trim, and EDI (Enhanced Driver Interface).
In addition to more power and standard equipment, the 2016 Maloo also benefits from a raft of exterior This is up from up from 425hp for the styling upgrades. The front end features a re-designed fascia outgoing LS3 V8, and an increase in torque from 570Nm to 671Nm. First incorporating a subtle splitter, while the addition of pitch-black bonnet air seen in the current VXR8 GTS vents help deliver an even more launched last year, the LSA is essentially the same unit fitted to the aggressive look. Camaro ZL1, albeit in a slightly reThe pitch-black theme is carried tuned form. An Eaton 4-lobe through to the mirror-backs and supercharger, stand-alone water-to- wing-vents, with a new 20-inch, fiveair charge-air cooling system and spoke alloy wheel design completing high-flow exhaust system with bithe styling package. Two new colours modal exhaust function turn the – Slipstream (vibrant blue) and Some Maloo into the fastest production Like it Hot (metallic red) ‘ute’ manufactured in Australia. complement the Maloo’s fresh new look. To cater for the extra power and torque compared with the outgoing Maloo, modifications have been 4 | WINTER 2016/17
Now, there are two down sides practicality and cost of ownership. The payload is rated at just 540hp and, surprise surprise, that 6.2-litre engine is quite thirsty. 18.5mpg thirsty.
RETURN OF THE BT50? Mazda looks set to bring the Mazda BT-50 pickup truck back to the UK, following an announcement that the next-generation model will be based on the Isuzu-Max. The new model is expected to be launched in 2019, seven years after the previous generation was taken off-sale in the UK. The Mazda BT-50 was launched back in 2006, replacing the B-Series which had been in the UK since 1999. Both of these vehicles were developed by Mazda, but also badged as a Ford Ranger around the world. However for the second-generation BT-50, the development work was handed over to Ford of Australia and one of the agreements was that Mazda would withdraw from the European pickup market.
Sales of the second-generation Mazda BT-50 (2011 to present) were thereafter confined to Asia, Africa and Australasia, but the new alliance with Isuzu means that Mazda is free to reintroduce the BT-50 into European countries. “Mazda Motor Corporation and Isuzu Motors Limited have reached a basic agreement on next-generation pickup truck collaboration, allowing Isuzu to enhance its product competitiveness and Mazda to strengthen its product line-up and maintain own-brand market coverage”, the company said in a statement. “Isuzu will produce next-generation pickup trucks for Mazda, based on Isuzu’s pick-up truck model. Mazda and Isuzu have developed a collaborative relationship for more than ten years, with Isuzu producing Mazda trucks for the Japanese market. This agreement reinforces the continuous long-term
relationship between Mazda and Isuzu.” Sales of pickup trucks are growing across Europe, and have doubled in the UK in just six years. In 2009, there were less than 19,000 pickup truck sales, but this increased to over 40,000 units by 2015. It’s expected that next generation Isuzu D-Max will be arriving in 2019, with Mazda-badged models expected shortly afterwards. The announcement that Mazda is to reenter the European pickup market follows on from similar statements from Mercedes-Benz and Renault.
RECORD YEAR FOR PICKUP SALES
This year is set to see more pickup trucks registered than ever before, with figures up 15.3 percent during the first eleven months of 2016. The strong demand has been attributed to further growth in the construction industry, affordable deals on outgoing models and more special editions. More people turning to pickups Pickup trucks sales surpassed 40,000 units for the first time last year (40,588 in 2015 according to the SMMT), but 43,875 pickups have already been registered in the first eleven months of 2016 which represents a 15.3 percent improvement on the previous year. There have been many explanations for this hike in demand over recent months. A lot of it has been credited to the health of the construction industry, which is expected to grow a further 3.9 percent in 2016. But there are also factors within the pickup sector that have been sited. The past 12 months has seen a number of special-edition models introduced, like the Amarok Atacama and D-Max Centurion, which tend to sell well with owner-operators. At the same time, a number of manufacturers are trying to clear their 6 | WINTER 2016/17
dealer stock of old models. The Mitsubishi L200, Nissan Navara and Ford Ranger have all been updated recently and each manufacturer has offered huge discounts on the existing models. The new models that have replaced them offer far superior levels of comfort, safety and refinement, which has opened up pickups to a new type of lifestyle customer who would have previously bought an SUV or large estate. Falling 4x4 Commercial sales This is in stark contrast to the 4x4 Commercial market, which has experienced a sharp decline in the number of registrations (down 57.0 percent to 4,270). This is mainly due to Land Rover ceasing production of the Defender, which has long dominated the segment. SMMT response Analysists attribute this largely to the prospering economy and, more specifically, the construction sector which is expected to increase by a further 3.6 percent in 2016. The SMMT, however, is warning of market saturation and speculates that growth may start to slow.
“Although this year has been a record breaking month for the UK’s light commercial vehicle market, the pace of growth is easing and is indicative of the performance we anticipate this year following the very high levels of demand seen in 2015”, explained Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive. “Providing there are no political or economic shocks to business confidence over the coming months, we expect the LCV sector’s good health to prevail during the remainder of 2016 as consumer appetite for online deliveries continues to grow.”
Pickup registrations by year Year
*Year to date figures for 2016 (January to November)
NEW MODEL Mercedes-benz x-class:
What can we expect?
Mercedes-Benz recently gave of us a glimpse of its upcoming pickup truck via two concepts at an unveiling in Stockholm. The X-Class ‘Powerful Adventurer’ and ‘Stylish Explorer’ indicate the two types of customer that Merc are targeting with the new vehicle, but what can we expect from the finished product? The new pickup truck from Daimler will share the same chassis, and will be built at the same factory, as the Nissan Navara and Renault Alaskan. However, the German manufacturer is not looking to steal ground from its alliance partner; instead, it makes no secret that it will compete with the Volkswagen Amarok and Ford Ranger at the premium end of the sector. This is why Daimler’s engineers have been hard at work reengineering the vehicle for premium customers. They have made quite a number of amendments, including the widening of the track and chassis, and the introduction of more powerful 3.0-litre, six-cylinder turbo-diesel model. Cab and interior The Mercedes-Benz X-Class will be a generously-specced vehicle unlike any other that we’ve seen before. Standard equipment is expected include a touchscreen-display, reversing sensors, steering-mounted controls and air-conditioning. The X-Class will also set new standards in the segment with regard to telematics and connectivity. There is an on-board SIM card so it will be possible to use the extensive Mer8 | WINTER 2016/17
cedes me connect services. Drivers can connect with their pickup by smartphone, tablet or PC at any time and from anywhere. Engine and driveline Daimler has announced that the Mercedes-Benz X-Class will be offered with a range of four and six-cylinder engines, with the possibility of a petrol engine. The four-cylinder likely relates to the 2.3-litre Renault-Nissan engine, while the six-cylinder possibly hints at Merc’s own V6 diesel that powers the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon, GLS and S-Class. The engines will be coupled to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission and fuel economy is expected to be as high as 44 to 45mpg. Loading and towing Despite having all the mod-cons and superior ride and handling, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class will be quite a productive workhorse, too. Doublecab models will feature a 3.5t towing capacity and the load bed boasts pretty impressive dimensions of 1,578mm long by 1,560mm wide. Payloads, however, are likely to fall well short of the sector average, with even the strongest models only managing around 1,050kg. Off-road The four-wheel drive system may be branded as 4Matic (like the rest of the Mercedes-Benz four-wheel drive range), but it is effectively Nissan’s fully-electric system which also featured in the X-Trail, Qashqai and
Pathfinder. It has three settings; 2Hi, 4Hi and 4Lo, and there is a centre differential lock. It’s expected the XClass will have the same approach and departure angles (31-degrees) and ground clearance (228mm) as the Nissan Navara. Pricing Merc are only predicting modest sales for the first 12 months, as it is the first time it has entered this segment. The Mercedes-Benz X-Class will be available only through Merc’s dedicated commercial vehicle network, which number around 80 in the UK, and prices are expected to be on the more expensive side (starting at around £29,000 plus VAT).
The 3.5t towing capacity is rapidly becoming the industry standard for pickup trucks, with the current or soon-to-be-updated Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max, Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux and VW Amarok all boasting about their impressive 3.5t pulling capabilities. But how do they achieve this capacity and will you be legal towing the full amount with a few pals on board? Not always… How are towing capacities calculated? Towing limits, like gross vehicle weights, have been devised to make sure each vehicle is safely operating within its capabilities. Various aspects of the vehicle are taken into consideration by the authorities when rating the maximum towing capacity like engine performance, braking force and suspension. Vehicles that tow more the legal limits will take longer to stop in the case of an accident, they can become unstable and therefore are more likely to lose control and it causes excessive wear and tear on
components such as the suspension, brakes and tyres. Gross combination mass (GCM) One thing that the manufacturers rarely mention when they state their huge towing capacities is the gross combination mass (GCM), or gross train weight (GTW), which is the maximum amount that the vehicle and the trailer (and all of their contents) can weigh. The reason why this is important is that the manufacturers will also state
the payload in the brochure next to the towing capacity, but the gross combination mass will indicate that there is no pickup truck that can pull its full towing capacity and carry its maximum payload at the same time. In fact, they are usually nowhere near. To give you an example, we’ll take a pickup truck with a gross combination mass (GCM) of 5.7 tonnes (or 5,700kg), which is the second figure shown on the vehicle’s weight plate
WHICH IS THE BEST PICKUP FOR TOWING? Visit: www.pickupand4x4.co.uk/best-pickup-for-towing to find out!
Miss the last issue? In the last issue, we discussed the variation of speed limits between pickup truck models. Some new pickups are subject to standard light commercial speed limits, which are 10mph slower on single and dual-carriageways. To find out what speed limits your pickup truck is restricted to, visit: www.pickupand4x4.co.uk/know-your-limits
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(usually located inside the driver’s door or engine bay). According to the technical specifications, this vehicle also has a payload of 1,100kg, a towing capacity of three tonnes (3,000kg) and a kerbweight (a vehicle without contents but driver, fuel and oil included) of 1,900kg. When towing a full load of three tonnes, this restricts the maximum weight of the vehicle and all of its contents to 2.7 tonnes. Given the 1,900kg kerbweight, this leaves 800kg for payload, which is short of the 1,100kg stated payload. Eating into the payload Now a 300kg difference is manageable, but Toyota is putting the Hilux through testing with European authorities to achieve a 3.5t towing capacity, up from its current limit of 3.2t. However, there will be no technical alterations to the chassis, brakes or suspension, and the gross combination weight will remain the same at 5,850kg on the double-cab. If you tow 3.5 tonnes with the Hilux, there will be just 2,350kg left for the
weight of the vehicle and its contents but the Hilux itself weighs up to 2,165kg. That gives you a payload of just 185kg, which is worrying considering that the average UK man weighs 84kg and some hardtops are over 100kg. Golden Rules of towing Another reason why towing a 3.5t load with pickup is that it breaks the ‘Golden Rule’ of towing which is that the trailer should never weigh more than the towing vehicle. This is
especially true with pickups, which have a much longer overhang (usually over one metre) than SUVs. Although this is only a guideline, a fully laden 3.5t trailer can have a huge impact on handling, particularly during braking, even with modern technology like trailer sway control and weight distribution hitches.
WEIGHT PLATES The weight plate shows the maximum gross vehicle weight (2,930kg), gross combination weight (5,700kg), front axle weight (1,280kg) and rear axle weight (1,800kg).
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PICKUPS OF THE IAA SHOW With pickup truck sales growing across the continent, it was no surprise that they played a huge role at Europe’s largest commercial vehicle show, the IAA. There were a number of innovative concepts and collaborations to ‘wow’ the estimated 250,000 visitors to the event in Hanover, Germany.
It’s back, and this time with a V6! The Canyon was one of the best-selling special edition Amaroks on the previous model and already Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is teasing us with a V6 version. The Highline and special edition versions made up over 80% of the previous generation Amarok sales thanks to the plush interiors and added comfort. The Canyon’s features include the 'Aragua' 17-inch alloys, black wheel arch mouldings and matt black sports bar, sill tubes and B-Pillar.
Although Mitsubishi wasn’t exhibiting at the show, German 4x4 specialist Taubenreuther was exhibiting its latest kit on the Series 5 Mitsubishi. The vehicle was fitted with a Warn winch and mounting kit, Safari snorkel and an ARB canopy. The L200 is one of the most fuel-efficient pickups on the market, and we’re happy to announce that we’ll be taking a long-termer on board for the first half of 2017! We’ll be putting it through a series of gruelling tests, including towing and off-roading, so keep posted for details!
FIAT FULLBACK The Fullback recently took part, as the official vehicle, in the famous 2016 MXGP FIM Motocross World Championship and marked this occasion with a special edition model. The extended cab Fullback Motocross has been developed in conjunction with Garage Italia Customs and features a underbody skid plates for offroad use, black 16-inch alloy wheels, black front grille, specific side steps, steel sport bar painted black and a sporty dark fabric interior. 12 | WINTER 2016/17
The Nissan Navara EnGuard has been designed to operate as a life-saving rescue platform in some of the worldâ€™s most harsh and extreme environments and even comes with an advanced drone to provide vital intelligence about what dangers rescue crews might face. As for the vehicle itself, there is a prototype portable battery pack, which are constantly charged on the move by the engine and include two input (charge) sockets and five output (discharge) sockets. Key to the carâ€™s rescue role is a drone, a DJI Phantom 4 with an operating ceiling of 6,000 metres. Weighing just 1,380 grammes, it can fly at speeds of up to 20 metres per second for close to 30 minutes and can relay images back to the vehicle.
RAM 1500 For the first time ever, the Ram Truck brand is taking part in the Hannover Motor Show, with the European head of Fiat Professional Domenico Gostoli saying that he plans to have the Ram 1500 on sale in European dealerships (and right-hand drive for UK customers) by end of 2017. The Quad Cab Sport on the standard featured the 5.7-litre HEMI petrol engine and automatic 8-speed transmission, although the increasingly popular 3-litre â€˜Pentastarâ€™ diesel engine would probably be a more viable option for Europe.
Renault used the IAA Show to debut its new Alaskan pickup truck, and partnered with a number of fleets around Europe to showcase the versatility of its new vehicle. French bodybuilder Durisotti adapted this Alaskan into a motorway patrol and breakdown vehicle, complete with a motorised winch and storage boxes on each side to carry oil, water and tools.
Toyota has teamed up with Icelandic 4x4 specialist Arctic Trucks to present the Toyota Hilux AT35. The AT35 features 35-inch wheels, 40mm raised suspension and fender flares to give the truck a powerful and aggressive look and makes it stand out among other vehicles. This model comes with a number of optional extras, like a roof rack, Vision X lighting, a snorkel and a Viair compressor.
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ULTIMATE TWIN TEST
RANGER V HILUX In 2011, the Ford Ranger raised the bar in terms of refinement and comfort in the pickup sector which left utilitarian workhorses like the legendary Toyota Hilux looking long in the tooth. Now though, Toyota has launched the seventh incarnation of its renowned pickup but how does it compare with the mighty Ranger? Looks and appearance We’ve found comparing the appearance of the Ranger and Hilux to be a very subjective issue, with the vote split 50-50 on everyone we asked. While we like the tough and rugged look of the Ranger, we thought there was too much chrome and we preferred sleek, yet subtle, design of the Hilux. With the exception of the Wildtrak’s titanium grille and inserts, 18-inch machined alloys and ‘Wildtrak’ branding, the wheel options and styling on the Hilux trims are a lot more attractive. Cab and specifications The designers from Ford and Toyota have taken a ‘smart and functional’ approach with the cabin, but the Hilux wins on presentation thanks to its stylish dashboard layout. The seats are also more comfortable and 16 | WINTER 2016/17
the multifunctional instrument panel is more classy and easy-to-use. Apart from that, they’re evenly matched with both models providing plenty of storage compartments and falling short on all-round vision. The Hilux loses points on the multifunctional display, which isn’t Hilux isn’t built into the dashboard like on the Ranger, and means it’s more prone to being knocked and scraped. Being traditionalists, we also preferred the fact that the Ranger has buttons to
flick between radio stations and a volume knob, rather than having to press small buttons on the touchscreen display. There are four trim levels on both the Toyota Hilux (Active, Icon, Invincible and Invincible X) and Ford Ranger (XL, XLT, Limited and Wildtrak). Direct Comparison: Toyota Hilux Invincible v Ford Ranger Limited Both the Invincible and Limited come with a DAB radio with Bluetooth, auxiliary and USB connectivity, cruise
control and air-conditioning although the Hilux Invincible also gets a rear parking camera, lane departure warning, road sign assist, keyless entry and push-button start, while the Ranger benefits from heated and electronically-adjustable leather seats and a larger 8-inch display with Ford SYNC 2 which features voice recognition and satellite navigation. Direct Comparison: Toyota Hilux Invincible X v Ford Ranger Wildtrak Moving up to the flagship models, the Ranger Wildtrak’s main appeal is its styling, with a plush Wildtrak orange upholstery, a choice of seven ambient interior lighting with dimming control and a rear-view camera. On the Hilux, the Invincible X gets more formal leather seats, which are heated at the front (although still manually adjustable), front and rear parking sensors and Toyota’s Touch 2 infotainment system with satellite navigation, 3D mapping and voice recognition. Weights and dimensions In terms of weights, the two are fairly evenly matched with the Ranger weighing in at between 1,931kg and 2,193kg and the Hilux at between 1,975kg and 2,165kg – which tips both the top of the range double cabs over into the standard light commercial vehicle speed limits, which are 10mph slower on single and double carriageways (see pickup truck speed limits). The Ford Ranger has the upper hand on the payloads with 1,192kg on the single-cabs (1,030kg on the Hilux), up to 1,155kg on the extended cab (1,025kg for the Hilux) although the Ranger double-cabs vary between
1,007kg and 1,199kg, whereas it’s a standard 1,045kg on the Hilux. From 2017, both the Hilux will match the Ranger’s best-in-class towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes, but it currently stands at 3.2 tonnes (the Ranger will also be able to carry around 150200kg more in the load area when towing 3.5 tonnes). Both vehicles are very similar when it comes to the load bed, too. The Toyota Hilux has a wider bed at 1,575mm (1,560mm on the Ranger), although the Ranger’s is deeper (511mm to the Hilux’s 480mm) and slightly longer at 2,317mm on the single-cab (2,315mm), 1,847mm (1,810mm) on the extended-cab and 1,549mm (1,525mm) on the doublecab. The Ranger’s bed is also more accessible thanks to a 835mm loading height (870mm). Engine and driveline The Ford Ranger certainly comes out on top in terms of engines, with the choice of a fuel-efficient 2.2-litre
(160hp/385Nm) or the gutsy 3.2-litre five-cylinder (200hp/470Nm). The Toyota Hilux just has one engine option (2.4-litre D-4D with 150hp/400Nm) as the 2.8-litre, which is available everywhere outside of Europe, doesn’t comply with the Euro-6 emission standard. Both the 2.2-litre and 3.2-litre Ford Rangers are quicker off the mark than the 2.4-litre Toyota Hilux, reaching 62mph from standstill in 11.8 and 10.9 seconds respectively, as opposed to the Hilux’s 12.8 seconds. This is mainly due to the heavier Hilux chassis, which weighs in at around 180kg more than the Ranger. However, the Toyota Hilux proved to be the superior of the two when it came to road manners. The engine is smoother and quieter than both of the Ford engines and the suspension seem to deal with the bumps and divots of rural road better than the Ranger.
Off the road It’s the Toyota Hilux that feels more composed off the road too, thanks to a chassis with 20 percent greater torsional rigidity than the outgoing model. The Hilux also has a better ground clearance of 293mm (229mm) and larger approach angle of 31-degrees (28-degrees on the Ranger), although the departure angle of 26-degrees and wading depth of 700mm fall short (28-degrees and 800mm respectively on the Ranger). The Hilux felt more sure-footed offroad despite both vehicles coming with a similar electronically-selectable 4WD system with three settings; 2-Hi, 4-Hi and 4-Low. However, the Hilux also comes with an additional switch to lock the rear differential, whereas this is only an option on the Ranger. As you’d expect with the latest generation of pickups, the Ranger and Hilux are well-specced when it comes to the latest off-road technology and standard features include hill start assist (HSA), traction control, electronic stability control (ESC) although descent control is only available from the Icon trim on the Hilux (standard across the Ranger trims).
Total cost of ownership It’s no surprise that Ford’s 2.2-litre Duratorq is the most fuel-efficient, achieving up to 43.5mpg on the combined cycle, then Toyota’s 2.4-litre D-4D at 40.4mpg combined and, lastly, Ford’s fuel-guzzling 3.2-litre fivepot at 34.0mpg. Prices start at £17,095 plus VAT for the Ranger single cab and £19,129 plus VAT for the Hilux single cab and extend up to £26,145 plus VAT for the Ranger Wildtrak and £28,137 plus VAT for the Hilux Invincible X, although residual values are fairly evenly matched which serves as an indication to how similarly perceived these vehicles are by the industry. Service intervals are set at 18,000 miles or every year for the Ford Ranger and 20,000 miles or two years on the Toyota Hilux. The Hilux also comes out on top with the warranties to with a five-year or 100,000 mile guarantee, compared with the Ranger’s meagre three-year or 60,000 miles. The Toyota Hilux has a better track record with reliability historically but these vehicles have been upgraded recently and, despite hundreds of thousands of simulated miles during the development stages, it remains
to be seen how they endure realworld conditions. Ford and Toyota have over 200 dealerships in the UK but Ford, through its 100-strong ‘Transit Centres’, provides better aftersales care for commercial customers with more courtesy vehicles and out-of-hours servicing. Summary The Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux are very much alike in so many respects; they both sits towards the top of the pricing bracket, they drive similar and have almost identical levels of safety kit and equipment. There is a lot to like about the Hilux; it’s world-renowned for its reliability, the cab is very stylish and comfortable, there is a long five-year warranty, and its slightly more capable off-road, but a lot of power-hungry owner-operators will turn their noses up at the sole 150hp engine option. For us though, it’s the Ranger that comes out on top. The Ford pickup excels in many key areas for commercial operators, like towing capacity, affordability, aftersales support and, crucially, there is a higher power option for the more extreme operations.
Beast of the Black forest ful heating and air-conditioning unit and a CD radio with a Bluetooth connectivity. Weights, measures and practicality Mercedes-Benz hasn’t published the general payload or unladen weights of the Unimog U5023 chassis but, instead, specifies them for each individual vehicle. However, a senior technician at Mercedes-Benz has told us that the unladen weight is around From the cab 7t and, given the GVW of 12t, leaves The first noticeable thing when around 5t for payload. climbing into the cab is the lower The turning circle of 16.3 metres is floor which has made the cab feel a fairly tight given the 3,850mm wheellot bigger and provided much more base, while the frame length is exactlegroom. However, visibility isn’t ly six metres long and the maximum quite as good as, in addition to the long nose, the driver’s seat has been permissible body length is 4.1 memoved further back. Compared with tres. Most Unimogs are used to powa conventional truck, the amount of er tools and machinery once they reach their secluded, or power dein-cab storage is also fairly poor, although there is a large glovebox and prived, destinations which can be run-off the vehicle’s hydraulics. a small overhead cabin. To counter the visibility issue, Merc is The single-circuit hydraulic system supplies 240 bar working pressure, a now offering a front-end camera to give the driver an idea of what object flow volume of 60 l/min and 24 kW pump output. There are also three lie directly in front of the bumper, PTO’s (power take-offs) available as which otherwise couldn’t be seen. There is whole host of other technol- optional extras, which provide power ogy bringing it in-line with its conven- up to 150kW. tional truck range, like a steering wheel-mounted gear lever, a power-
For those transporting heavy loads across extreme terrain, you’d be hard pressed to find a vehicle more suitable than the Mercedes-Benz Unimog. We put the larger U5023 model to the test on the arduous Gaggenhau test track on the edge of the Black Forest.
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On the road Under the bonnet is Merc’s four-cylinder, 5.1-litre OM934 engine, which has broad power and torque curves that peak at 231hp and 900Nm respectively. This is the only Euro-6 engine that Merc offers on the Unimog, although there was previously the option of a six-cylinder engine. Our version came with the optional electronic automated transmission (EAS) with eight forward gears and six reverse gears.
5,132cc, 4-cyl turbodiesel 231 hp @ 2,200rpm, 900Nm @ 1,200 - 1,600rpm 14-speed EAS automated, 4WD 12.0s (0-62mph approx.) Front and rear portal axles with diff locks and coil spring suspension Pneumatic disc brakes all round 4,100mm max. body length 5,000kg approx. payload (12t GVW) 60l/min and 24kW PTO 16.3m turning circle 410mm ground clearance 42.0° app/46.0° dep angles £100,000 approx. plus VAT
Moving off, the Unimog U5023 is surprisingly quick and can reach 62mph from standstill in around 12 seconds, even with a full load on board, thanks to the low-end torque and swift and smooth gear changes from the EAS transmission. There is also a very effective two-stage engine brake Despite rehousing the engine behind the cab and in between the two engines, the lack of cab soundproofing means quite a lot of engine and road noise perforates into the cab. However, this has worked wonders on the cornering, as the centre of gravity is now lower and more central. Off the road Given its huge size and weight, the Unimog is unbelievably agile and capable when the beaten track ends and the extreme and unadulterated terrain begins. We encountered a whole host of gruelling obstacles on the Gaggenhau test track, and the U5023 performed impeccably at each hurdle. First up was the axle twist where one of the Unimogâ€™s stand-out features comes into play. The curved frame design allows the chassis to twist and
flex (up to 600mm) according to the surface conditions for maximum contact with the ground and, because the drivetrain is connected to the axles via torque tube and ball, the axles can articulate up to 30 degrees. Next up was the incline test, which included an 80% (38.6 degrees) slope. The maximum approach angle for the Unimog U5023 is 42 degrees (46-degree departure and 32-degrees ramp over angle), so the front bumper missed by quite some distance and the 900Nm of torque meant that we could easily accelerate the 7t machine up the hill. On the way back down, we stopped and, flicking the gear leaver forward, engaged the electronic quick reverse (EQR) which swiftly took us back up the slope without any loss of ground. After the incline test, we activated all-wheel drive and the front and rear diff-locks and took the Unimog offroad. The Unimog has two ways of increasing traction: the differential locks can be engaged to prevent wheel spin; and the central tyre inflation system adjusts the surface con-
tact of the tyres to the type of ground. There was nothing on the course that proved challenging for the Unimog, as the portal axles gives an increased ground clearance of 410mm, which was a lot higher than any of the rock on our route, and the 1.2 metres (800 on standard variant) wading depth was a lot higher than the river that we crossed. Summary With the combined force of the two Unimogs and the even larger Zetros, Mercedes-Benz dominates the heavy-duty 4x4 sector. At the helm of the steering wheel, no mountain is too high and you can easily imagine yourself trekking across the glaciers of Patagonia or navigating an overgrown Himalayan mountain trail and, for that quality alone, weâ€™re always going to give it five stars! However, there is very little practical use for the U5023 in 21st century Western Europe. Our roads are well developed and for most off-piste applications, a pickup and generator to run the tools would be suffice.
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