The year of the Chinese ute! These three cut-price dual-cabs are coming for your Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux

Carving out success in our ute market isn’t easy, but the rewards can be massive, with more than 200,000 dual-cabs sold here in 2019 alone. Yes, the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger take up the lion’s share of those sales (with the Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton staking a fair claim, too), but they won’t have the market to themselves this year.

In fact, there are several challengers preparing to mount their most significant assault on the Aussie market to date.

Yes, 2020 is shaping up as the year of the Chinese ute, with a host of cut-price options arriving in Australia to take the fight to the market’s established players.

 

Great Wall Cannon: July – September 2020

There’s been plenty of hype around the Great Wall Cannon, and with Chinese brand’s first solid crack at a truly global ute now scheduled to arrive in Australia as early as July, we’re on the edge of our seats to get behind the wheel. 

For now, though, there’s lots we know about Great Wall’s Cannon. The ute will arrive with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine which is expected to produce around 120kW and 450Nm – making it’s Australian application the most powerful version on the planet.

That engine will be matched with an eight-speed ZF automatic or a six-speed manual, and Great Wall has its sights sets on the big players of the Australian industry, telling CarsGuide its new workhorse has been benchmarked against the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux, and would undergo specific testing for Australian conditions. 

They’re also planning on undercutting the big players, too, telling CarsGuide: “It will make a lot of people think ‘why am I paying this amount of money for a ute when someone like Great Wall can build something to this level of comfort and capability?'”.

LDV T60 V6 diesel: July – September 2020

LDV is on something of a run in Australia at the moment, with the Chinese brand defying our falling new-car market to increase its sale by 6.9 per cent in 2019. 

And it’s not done yet, with its most populate model, the T60 ute, set for a significant power boost this year which will make it one of the country’s most powerful dual-cabs.

The brand will use the VM Motori 3.0-litre V6 engine – the same used in some Jeep products – to seriously up the outputs of its T60.

While the brand is yet to confirm specifics, that engine is good for 184kW of power and 570Nm of torque in Jeep product, which would elevate the LDV toward the top of the ute power tree in Australia.

The VW Amarok V6, for example, makes 200kW and 580Nm, and the just-axed Mercedes-Benz X-Class makes 190kW and 550Nm in V6 guise.

Combine that donk with locally tuned suspension (the entire LDV range is set to get the same Walkinshaw-developed suspension tune as the flagship Trailrider) and the brand could be onto something big.

We don’t know exactly when the V6 T60 will arrive, but we understand you should begin looking for it in the second half of 2020. 

MG Extender – TBA

A potential star for the Chinese brand, given MG’s ongoing success in Australia, the Extender is essentially rebadged version of the LDV.

The difference? MG is fast developing a following in Australia, where it shifted a massive 8326 cars last year, up a staggering 177 per cent on the previous year.

The Extender is powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine good for around 120kW and 375Nm, which is channeled through a six-speed manual or automatic, with that power shuffled to the rear or all four wheels.

So, will we get it? We’ll have to wait and see. But the MG Extender has shifted from a outright no when first revealed in Thailand, to a wait and see, so the grounds are shifting in its favour. 

“There’s potential for every vehicle. And we are a growing brand, and we want to continue to grow. Product is definitely the biggest thing,” MG Australia’s product planning manager, Akshat Ahuja, told CarsGuide.

“We keep evaluating whatever we can, and if we can, then one day, who knows?”.
 

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February 4, 2020 2:31 pm Published by