Ford recently introduced a new “compact” bakkie called the Maverick in the United States that starts at under $20,000 – R315,000 – and comes with a petrol-hybrid engine as standard.
The Maverick is also quite the looker and offers just the right amount of “usefulness” to make it attractive to first-time buyers and bakkie veterans alike.
Sadly, shortly after this new bakkie was unveiled, CARmag reported that it would not be available in South Africa.
After seeing the Ford Maverick, reading the reports, and watching the videos, the only thing I could think was: “I want this bakkie.”
Yes, we have the Ranger, a capable double cab that’s not as big as the Ford F-250 we once had, and we have smaller options like the Nissan NP200 which is still a top-seller 13 years after its release.
But what we don’t have is a happy medium from a reputable brand with a large dealer network and a wallet-friendly starting price.
That’s where the Maverick (hopefully one day) comes in.
The new Ford Maverick’s capabilities are not far off from the Ranger’s, but being able to tow 3 tonnes while carrying a one-tonne load on the back is not that necessary to most bakkie buyers in 2021.
Mostly, these individuals want a vehicle for leisure activities such as transporting outdoor equipment or loading the occasional sheet of wood.
The hybrid Maverick with its 680kg payload capacity and 907kg towing capacity was built for that, and it even provides 12 tie-down spots, two 12V plugs, and two 110V plugs at the back for increased versatility.
Ford describes the back of this bakkie as a DIY-fan’s paradise – being able to load up to “37 bags of 40-pound mulch”.
The 1.37m-long load box was also designed to carry a “standard ATV” and be shallow enough so that “any size adult can reach over and grab items off the floor”.
The towing capacity is then enough for a pair of “personal watercraft or a good-sized pop-up camper trailer,” said Ford.
Come to think of it, rarely have I seen a double cab bakkie in South Africa tow or carry much else.
In addition, Ford said the tailgate features tie-down clamps that double as bottle openers, and is rated to hold 227kg of “friends hanging out and taking a seat”.
Powering the entry-level Maverick is a 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor that together put out 141kW and 210Nm.
An urban fuel consumption figure of 5.8l/100km and a range of 804km on a single tank further complements its breadth of abilities.
However, this Maverick’s power is sent to the front wheels via a CVT transmission – which is the only area where we can fault it.
For those wanting a four-wheel-drive configuration, a more powerful 2.5-litre petrol-only model with an eight-speed automatic gearbox was also developed.
Maximum towing capacity for this derivative comes in at 1,814kg, with the power figures a decent 186kW and 376Nm.
Inside the cabin, the Maverick is unlike any bakkie that is currently on the market.
Standard features include an 8-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic air conditioning, a Wi-Fi hotspot, a multi-information driver’s display, “reground carbon fibre” finishes, and multiple storage bins.
Furthermore, the entire range comes with the Ford Co-Pilot 360 driver assistance system, adding pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking and automatic high-beam headlamps.
Items like leather seats, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and a five-drive-modes system can then be optioned.
As with the Ranger, the Maverick works with FordPass Connect. This lets users find the bakkie, check fuel levels, lock and unlock the doors, and start or turn off the vehicle with their smartphone.
The Maverick also gets a rear-seat configuration that the Ranger does not.
This Ford Integrated Tether System (FITS) is a “multitasking solution for rear-seat passengers” that accommodates different accessories like trash bins, cord organisers, and under-seat storage dividers to enhance the bakkie’s usability.
“More FITS slot creations are in development and Ford is working to publish the slot geometry so people can 3D-print DIY solutions to further fit their lifestyle,” said the company.
“Compact” bakkies in South Africa
Now I’m not expecting the Maverick to be as cheap in South Africa as it is in the US, and converting a left-hand-drive-only vehicle provides a set of challenges in itself, too.
However, I do think if Ford can pull it off while still making the Maverick cheaper than the Ranger, it might just convert a few brand-agnostics to brand loyalists.
The Maverick is positioned to field buyers out of every vehicle segment in South Africa, and, in my opinion, the only thing better than having one Ford bakkie to choose from is having two.