Latest Nissan’s configuration, price stand it apart

Best Bakkie has its challenges – take a year like the one just past – not only were we subjected to an abject lack of water here in the Western Cape, but there were very few new bakkie launches too. Which can be a challenge for a competition like this that relies on us assembling a field of the best bakkies released in the past twelve months to choose a winner from them.

That’s why we allow facelifts and special editions in – without them the contest would be a little less attractive with just three or four vehicles to choose from and that also made the cull much easier this year. The only new vehicle that is not on this spread is the only workhorse and as already noted, the Changan is thus our Workhorse of the Year.

The other three are basically refreshes or nip and tucks and there is nothing fundamentally new beyond the smoke and mirrors, which leaves this trio on the podium.

That certainly does not mean that the Mahindra did not earn its place in the final. Pik-Up is a most compelling package – it is mostly new, supremely equipped and performs bloody well – it’s rugged and now it really looks the part too, so bravo Mahindra – Pik Up is one of the stars of Best Bakkie 2019

The Runner Up is completely new – and a huge source of debate not only in our offices, but also around every braai and at your local pub and all the others too. No other bakkie has split opinion as much as the Mercedes-Benz X-Class has – its drawn as much praise as it has criticism and quite rightly too.

First off, this bakkie and its Nissan cousin are for all intents and purposes, one and the same vehicle – scrape off the veneer and it’s all common underneath, from the engine to the gearbox to the suspension – the lot. 

So, in our opinion, at face value, the Mercedes is without doubt the best new bakkie on the market right now – bold, daring, interesting and quite competitive in all but one respect. And that’s probably the most important – were it not for its ridiculous premium, the Mercedes-Benz X250d would have been Best Bakkie 2019, but there is no real justification that it should cost a whole quarter-million rand more than the bakkie it shares its heart with. 

Sure, Merc developed X in its own direction and the two bakkies look, feel and to an extent even drive most differently. But what makes Mercedes development so much more expensive than Nissan’s? The German air? Or is it the water? We don’t get that bit.

Were it not for price, the Merc would have won this thing, but we just cannot ignore that this Bakkie is priced right out of the market.
As fate would have it, the face-off was between the Merc and the Nissan in the end – all of which makes the Nissan winning Best Bakkie 2019 quite fitting this time around – there is no reason any badge should command that much of a premium.

And the winner is…
BEST BAKKIE 2019 - Nissan Navara 2.3D DC LE 4x2 auto
The Nissan Navara is not a brand new bakkie, but it was not available in rear-wheel drive until later in 2018. We’re not sure why Nissan chose to bring the 4x2 version in a year later, but it was perhaps fortuitous, as a number of circumstances have seen it to the Best Bakkie 2019 crown.

It is not the first time that a 4x2 bakkie has taken this gong a year later either – in fact it’s happened a few times that a bakkie’s 4x4 hardware has cost it the win, only for the 4x2 version to come win a year or two anon. 

See, a four-wheel drive bakkie is not really necessary for 99 percent of owners and unless you really need to engage low range and switch off the diff locks to cross some otherwise insurmountable path once a week, then why bother?

A 4x4 bakkie is always heavier, slower and uses more fuel than an identical 4x2 too, never mind that it costs fifty to sixty grand less. Now all of those factors have seen the Nissan Navara 2.3D DC LE 4x2 auto to the 2019 Best Bakkie crown. 

Add to that, the blue bakkie across the page is spun off the same base and costs so much more than the Nissan and all of a sudden, the Navara 4x2 looks like even more of a bargain. 

But don’t be fooled – even without all of that, Navara 4x2 would have won this thing anyway – it’s the best new bakkie here, finish and klaar. 

“Don’t be fooled – Navara 4x2 would have won this thing anyway – it’s the best new bakkie here, finish and klaar”