The compact, car-derived pickup market is strongly contested here in Brazil by the four key automakers. It has all started back in 1978 with a model based on the Fiat 127/147. VW responded in 1982 with the Gol-based Saveiro, which soon took the lead. More recently came the Chevrolet Montana (Corsa/Gama II platform) and Ford Courier (based on the old Fiesta).

But Fiat started to overtake the Saveiro by launching its Strada king (extended) cab versions in 1999. VW has only now responded by making use of the same architecture as the recently fully redesigned Gol/Polo.

It has launched its new line including king cab version. The Italians moved things on a bit with their new Strada crew cab a little than a month ago, but it is still too soon to know if this new body variant will succeed.

Fiat has led the Brazilian light pickup market for nine years – it’s a segment that has doubled its share with buyers choosing the versatile vehicles instead of conventional hatchbacks. Besides cargo carrying, they are used for recreational activities and are often seen here loaded with surf boards or motorcycles. A pickup is not uncommon as a household’s sole vehicle, too.

The new Saveiro’s wheelbase is 5.9 inches longer than its predecessor’s. Front and rear overhangs are smaller now, providing a good visual impact. Tracks are wider, as well as the cargo box and the cabin itself (the king cab has a 10.6 cu ft area behind the front seats).

Features include a gas spring-controlled lid for the lockable cargo box tailgate. The single, centrally mounted gas strut is embedded in this door and invisible from outside.

This new model gives VW an excellent chance of wresting the Brazilian pickup crown back from Fiat.

Fernando Calmon

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