Opinion: Don’t hold your breath for a V8 dual-cab ute

They exist, but that doesn’t mean they’ll reach showrooms

V8 dual-cab utes might not enter production

Australian automotive media recently has been abuzz with rumours and reports of various V8-powered dual-cab utes that are apparently just around the corner. Don’t bet on it.

It’s easy to see the appeal of such an idea. In recent years utes have dominated the sales charts so infusing one with the high performance DNA so beloved of Australian enthusiasts would seem to be a surefire way to guarantee sales success.

V 8 Dual Cab Ute Not Entering Production Ranger Raptor Development Jpg

There’s just one problem: actually building the things. More specifically, building them at a price the market will accept. MOTOR has it on good authority that there is a Ford Ranger prototype with a Miami engine (the Prodrive-developed 5.0-litre supercharged V8 fitted to the last fast Falcons), likewise US and Aussie Holden Colorados with LT1 and LS3 V8s respectively. There is almost certainly a Ranger Raptor running around with a Mustang engine as well.

This is what car company engineers do, they create prototypes to evaluate production feasibility (and sometimes just for fun). It doesn’t mean the products will ever see showrooms; history is littered with ‘nearly’ cars.

Insiders at numerous companies have all told MOTOR the same thing: “we’d love to offer a high-performance dual-cab, but the sums just don’t add up.” Let’s use the Ford Ranger Raptor V8 as an example, as that’s the product that would seem on paper to be the easiest to create and with the greatest chance of success.

There is precedent here with the Mustang R-Spec, a local, low-volume initiative answering a specific need for the Australian market. Factor in development costs and a decent profit margin for everyone involved and the R-Spec added around $35,000 to the cost of a standard Mustang GT manual.

Ford Mustang R Spec Front Jpg

Apply the same figure to a Ranger Raptor and you’re already at $110,000 and the R-Spec is a much, much easier proposition than a V8 Ranger. Getting the R-Spec to market was an enormous challenge, but it mostly used readily available parts through the Ford Performance catalogue (supercharger kit, suspension package etc.).

A V8 Ranger Raptor would be much closer to the HSV GTSR W1 in production complexity. Ford would need to source a supply of Mustang crate engines, factor in the cost of disposing with the existing diesel engines and then actually install the V8.

V 8 Dual Cab Ute Not Entering Production Mustang V 8 Jpg

It’ll then need to be emissions tested (don’t expect much change from $1million) for compliance, which assumes the Mustang V8 will even talk to the Ranger’s electrical architecture, a problem which essentially killed the idea of a twin-turbo V6 HSV ZB Commodore - the car and engine spoke different electronic languages. It’s not an insurmountable problem, but it all adds cost.

Even then, our track testing has shown the Coyote V8 has overheating issues when propelling 1750kg of Mustang; how’s it going to go in 2300kg of Ranger while towing 2500kg? Add in the need for a new ESP calibration and upgraded brakes and tyres to handle the extra power and costs are quickly spiralling - and that’s before you even factor in how to build the thing.

The Ranger Raptor V8 is simply being used an example. If Nissan wanted to put the Patrol V8 in the Navara it would face similar issues; likewise Walkinshaw with any V8 Colorado program. It’s easy to see why currently no one can make the numbers add up.

V 8 Dual Cab Ute Not Entering Production Navara N Trek Warrior Jpg

After all, is there a market for a $125,000 V8 dual-cab? Ateco has had massive success with the Dodge Ram, converted to right-hand drive by Walkinshaw, with more than 5000 sold in Australian New Zealand over the last four years and more than 3000 in 2019 alone.

The Ram, however, is a much more practical proposition with a 4.5-tonne towing capacity and it starts from $79,950 drive-away, roughly equivalent to the cost of a standard Ranger Raptor.

Anything can happen in the crazy world of cars and it may be that Ford or others will read this and chuckle having figured out some way to get a V8 dual-cab to market for less than $100,000 – but we wouldn’t bet on it.

RAM 1500 Jpg

What we would bet on is a high-performance Raptor arriving with the next generation Ranger due for reveal in 2021. A V8 would be possible, a twin-turbo Ecoboost V6 much more likely – the local development team is certainly cooking up something.

In the meantime, if you really want a V8-powered pick-up, Walkinshaw will hook you up with a 313kW/624Nm Chevrolet Silverado 1500.


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