THREE things we love about pick-up trucks: they’re cool, they’re tough, you beat the taxman.
Now, I’m not the brightest light on the street but reasons one and three are clearly why chrome-plated 4x4s are everywhere these days.
They are multiplying quicker than a wet gremlin.
Take my friend Steve. He’s an accountant and he’s got a high-spec VW Amarok “to carry files around”. Yeah, right. Because a car isn’t big enough
More like reason three. Plus he likes to go mountain biking at weekends.
A mum at my son’s school has a very orange Ford Ranger. Reason one.
But also possibly reason three because she’s savvy. She’s a fitness coach and she must have lots of yoga mats and skipping ropes to lump about.
Price: £22,715 (exc VAT)
Engine: 2.3-litre turbo diesel
Power: 150hp, 400Nm
Top speed: 108mph
Towing capacity: 3,500kg
To be fair, I can’t fault either of them. A double-cab pick-up has the same kit and convenience as a family SUV but with the muscle to carry a one-ton payload in the back. And that’s the crucial bit.
That means it is classed as a light commercial vehicle and business owners can reclaim the VAT.
The company car tax benefit is huge too. It qualifies for the lowest rate of benefit In kind, irrespective of CO2 emissions or price.
So a pick-up can cost a company car driver as little as £56 a month compared to £83 for a Ford Focus or £297 for an Audi Q7. And there are savings on fuel too. Now let’s run the rule over the Mitsubishi L200.
The Japanese firm has been perfecting its much-loved workhorse for 40 years. Which means if you get stuck in one, it is probably your fault.
This new Series 6 version has four drive modes (2H, 4H, 4H with a locked centre differential and 4LLc low-ratio with a locked centre differential), as well as hill descent control and new off-road settings for gravel, mud/snow, sand and rock. In other words, it’ll rescue a baa-lamb stranded half way up a soggy Welsh mountain and crawl its way back down again.
It can also switch from 2WD to 4WD up to 62mph, cruise calmly along a motorway and tow 3,500kg.
Tough. Capable. Versatile. Heated steering wheel. What more does a grafter really need?
ONE week on from the launch of the Defender and the internet is still melting.
Land Rover has had more than 750,000 online configurations – ten times more than anything before – as well as 40 MILLION video views.
The first customer ordered a £59,000 First Edition with a spill-resistant dog bowl.
The Defender panel van, above, starts at £35,000 plus VAT and the standard 90 will be £40k. Pick-up version to follow later. But it will come. Promise.
Having said that, the models that sell most are the luxury ones that roll on fat alloys and have leather and Apple CarPlay and 360-degree parking cameras and mood lighting and puddle lamps.
The standard double-cab starts at £22,715 and you can spend another ten grand on the fully loaded Barbarian X. Yet they have the same engine and output. I’d go for the Warrior spec somewhere in between.
Other observations. Bold new look. Slimmer lights. Squared-off wheel arches. I like it. Bigger front brakes. Improved seat bolstering. Knee pads.
Quieter. All sorts of driver assistance aids. Touchscreen. Rear-seat USBs. You’re paying for a van but getting the comfort of a car. Speak to your accountant.
VAN MAN: Sporty Transit Rocks
By George Barrow
WHEN I was a teenager, modifying cars was huge.
But if I’m entirely honest, I never really understood the Max Power magazine thing.
Manufacturers spend millions making something for some spotty oik to then invalidate the warranty, glue some badly moulded plastic bits to it and fit an exhaust the size of a bin lid.
Jump forward two decades and I’m sat driving the latest tricked-up Ford van from World Rally partner M-Sport.
But what makes the MS-RT Transit Connect so special?
Has it got a mean-looking front bumper? Check.
Special alloys? Hell, yes. They’re from OZ Racing and bronzer than Peter Andre’s abs.
And what about a rear spoiler? Definitely. It’s sticking right out the back like J-Lo’s famous behind.
It also has quilted leather seats, a steering wheel so fat “Stone Cold” Steve Austin would struggle to get his hands around it and then . . . there’s the exhaust.
The unmistakable, ear-splitting drone of a modified exhaust. Except I can’t hear it – because I haven’t turned it on using my smartphone.
That’s right. The quad-piped, chrome-tipped exhausts on this £24k mini-Trannie are as fake as Pamela Anderson’s flotation aids.
Instead, the ingenious Maxhaust system option uses a marine speaker to emulate the noise of a raucous engine and is controlled through an app.
It links straight to the throttle, so you can “blip” the accelerator at the lights and it will respond.
Better still, all these boy-racer extras are backed up by Ford, as MS-RT is an approved converter.
If all vans had options like this, I could get into the modding scene after all.
WIN a trip to Florida
NOT all of us are blessed with the ability to lap like Lewis or skid like Seb.
And before the invention of the computer game, all one could do was dream about being a pro driver.
Now you can PLAY and WIN something for real – a £5,000 holiday to Flordia.
Enter now at roadtrip.wd40.co.uk. But be warned – it’s addictive and the roads get twistier than a flexible straw. Let me know if you win.