A batch of high-profile launches has focused attention on the pick-up sector in recent years and manufacturers are introducing special edition models to maintain interest. James Dallas reports
Following a pause for breath in the low-volume month of February, when sales dipped 10% year-on-year to below 1000 units, normal service resumed in the pick-up sector in the plate-change March market with a 12.5% upturn to 5850 registrations compared to the same period in 2013 as punters moved to snap up vehicles bearing the 14-plate.
A raft of new model launches from big players such as Ford, Volkswagen and Isuzu has reinvigorated a sector in recent years that had lost some of its appeal once the Government moved to get rid of the most compelling tax breaks for private use of double-cab trucks in 2007. The recent upturn in the construction industry following the recession gave the market a further shot in the arm.
Pick-up sales in 2013 grew by more than 20% to 29,400 but with models such as the Ford Ranger, VW Amarok and Isuzu D-max now becoming part of the furniture in the sector the manufacturers are making moves to keep their vehicles under the spotlight to maintain momentum.
In the case of the Amarok and D-max this means blinged-up special editions laden with extra kit.
Volkswagen introduced its Amarok Canyon in the UK on 1 April, making just 350 of the flagship models available to customers.
The Canyon is distinguished from the rest of the Amarok line-up by features such as its optional high-shine styling bar and colour-keyed under-ride guard.
Based on the Trendline trim VW claims it carries over £8,500 worth of extra equipment including: satellite navigation with a six-inch colour touchscreen, Bluetooth, unique styling bars, 19-inch Cantera alloy wheels and heated leather seats. It also gets front and rear parking sensors, privacy glass, a protective coating for the load area, a matt black roll cover, interior floor mats and high-gloss black side styling bars and rear bumper.
The cabin is adorned with two-tone leather upholstery, including a leather-covered steering wheel and gear knob with orange stitching. When ordered in copper orange the air vent surrounds are matched to the vehicle’s exterior colour, while on the deep black and reflex silver models the air vent surrounds feature matt chrome.
The roof light bar can be added for £945, excluding VAT.
The Canyon comes with Volkswagen’s top of the range 2.0-litre BiTDI 180hp engine, with 420 Nm of torque and a towing capacity of up to 3,200 kg.
Customers wanting the Canyon with the six-speed manual ‘box with selectable 4Motion will have to be quick off the mark – VW has made just 50 available – the remaining 300 get eight-speed auto with permanent 4MOTION.
Excluding VAT retail prices start from £28,990 for the manual transmission and rise to £30,720 for the automatic transmission.
Isuzu has produced a special edition pick-up model exclusively for the UK market.
The brand says the D-max Blade offers £5000 worth of additional equipment which, with a starting price of £24,995, excluding VAT, for the six-speed manual model, represents a saving of £1000 compared to buying the accessories separately.
A five-speed auto version is available from £25,995.
The Blade features 18-inch ‘Shadow’ alloy wheels designed to chime in with the ‘Shadow’ grey front grille. It also gets privacy glass windows, black door and tailgate handles, black roof bars and rear bumper and heavy-duty side steps. Isuzu has designed the exterior additions to contrast with the two available body colours, black or white.
An under-rail bed liner comes as standard and customers can choose between an Aeroklas hard-top model with an internal light or a Mountain Top black roller top cover, which is unique to the Blade and cannot be purchased as a separate accessory.
Inside the double-cab Blade features automatic climate control and black leather seats, which are heated in the front. It also gets DAB radio and a 6.1-inch touchscreen navigation system fitted with a rear-view reversing camera.
Power comes from a 2.5L 163hp twin-turbo diesel engine returning official combined fuel economy of 38.2mpg.
Ford added some glamour to its Ranger line-up by exhibiting the purpose-built, petrol-powered 5.0-litre V8 model that competed in the Dakar Rally at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
Ford claims its Global Product Development team helped develop the Dakar vehicle and says Motorsport provides the toughest proving ground for Ford engineers to develop products for customers. The Dakar Ranger is based on the road 4x4 double-cab Ford Ranger with full composite bodywork and advanced lightweight components.
Toyota retained its leadership of the pick-up sector with sales of 7596 models in 2013, up 1.8% on the previous year. With no changes in the offing for the Hilux, the manufacturer seems to be working on the prefix that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Unfortunately it is having to do just that with a recall of around 12,000 models built between 2004 and 2010 due to a fault that could deactivate the driver’s airbag.