New Rampage set for Brazil, but will it come to SA?
Some say that two plus two equals five. It defines a false dogma that one may be required to believe, and it fits this story to a tee. In this case, we have two sets of two facts. On the one hand, Ram has just confirmed its new Rampage bakkie for Brazil and other South American countries. And it will share its heart with the Fiat Toro bakkie recently revealed in Brazil.
Join the dots… is Rampage coming to SA?
On the other hand, Stellantis recently confirmed that it is building a factory in South Africa. And the smart money suggests that it will build the Fiat Toro there, for consumption in the local and the rest of the African, European, and Australasian market. Now put two and two together and it only seems logical that if Stellantis is building the Rampage and the Toro together in Brazil, then in South Africa… just join the dots.
The heart of the matter is that former Chrysler ‘truck’ brand Ram, better known for its full size bakkies you may have seen the Duttons drive in the series Yellowstone, as well as its Jeep and Chrysler siblings, has gravitated ever closer to its Italian cousin Fiat. Several Jeep and Chrysler models already ride on Fiat platforms and that trend continues apace. Now, the 2024 Ram Rampage is designed specifically for the South American market, which is big on unibody bakkies. Like the Fiat Toro, and many others.
Unlike a conventional Hilux, Ranger or similar with a body and a bak atop a ladder frame, unibodies are car based in a single monocoque construction. The bed and the cab are one, like the Bantams, Datsun 1400 and Corsa bakkies of yore, and the NP200 still for sale in SA. Now in the case of the Toro, and the US market Hyundai Santa Cruz, they have grown a bit. Almost as big as the splendid, if sadly deceased Chevy Lumina Ute.
Rampage is a unicab bakkie
Once a burgeoning market niche in South Africa, the ‘half-ton’ unicab market was hard fought by the above mentioned and more. But it has been left to the Nissan NP200 since GM fled. That however appears to be changing. And very changing very quickly too. Volkswagen, possibly in cahoots with Ford, is said to be evaluating a Polo-based unicab bakkie to be built on a third line out of Kariga and there’s good money on a Toyota Stout, too. And Renault is still dithering over Oroch, after all these years.
Getting back to the Rampage, it is said to be a game-changer for both the Ram brand and the South American region. Developed under the watchful eye of Ram engineers in Auburn Hills, Michigan, it will be Ram’s first ever unicab bakkie. It is said that Brazilian versions will be powered by a choice of a 145 kW 330 Nm 2-litre flex-fuel capable turbo petrol GME-T4 Tigershark four-pot. Or the Toro’s 125 kW 380 Nm 2-litre four-cylinder MultiJet turbodiesel. A 147 kW 440 Nm 2.2-litre oil burner is likely to follow.
They will drive a six-speed manual, or Toro’s nine-speed automatic gearbox. Rampage will be front wheel driven with the option of an on-demand all-wheel drive system that activates when the front wheels start to lose traction. Rampage prototypes (below) have been spied sporting Toro-like MacPherson front and coil sprung rear suspension
So, what about the rest of the world?
Bigger than a conventional half-ton unicab to rival conventional bakkies in some market niches, Rampage is still compact enough. Brazilian speculation suggests that the Rampage will be 5 metres long, 1.85 metres wide and 1.80 metres tall. Inside we understand it will get horizontal Uconnect 5 touchscreen infotainment, and an elevated centre console with a rotary dial gear selector. It will come in four trim levels, an entry spec Big Horn, Laramie, Rebel, and Rebel Night Edition.
Rampage is designed to meet South American driver needs, where Ram clearly hopes to make a significant impact in the region. But what about the rest of the world? Well, US sources are already squealing that Stellantis has no plans to sell Rampage there at this point. But this bakkie certainly would make a huge amount of sense in rest of the Southern Hemisphere. As well as in Europe, and certain Asian markets.
Never mind, Ram appears committed to expand its footprint beyond North America . In fact, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares makes no bones about it. He recently told the Wall Street Journal, “when we bring Ram pick-up trucks outside of the US, it can be in Latin America. It can be Africa, Middle East, it can be Oceania.” That sounds like a bit of the old grenade effect, no?
RAM Rampage is a Fiat Toro at heart
So, Ram has just revealed the Rampage and it appears that it will share its innards with the Fiat Toro. And Stellantis has confirmed that it is building a new plant in South Africa. Where the smart money suggests they will build the Fiat Toro (above) for the rest of the budding world.
Join the dots and we could very well be adding two plus two to get five. The only question remains is if that five equals Ram’s all-new Rampage? – Michele Lupini
Sketches: Michele Lupini