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The dawn of the Super Ute: How the new Toyota GR HiLux and Ford Ranger Raptor will change the game with six-cylinder diesel grunt

The GR HiLux and Ford Ranger Raptor will change the game in Australia. Image credit fordapai.com

Australia stands at the dawn of a new era of Super Utes, with the GR HiLux and Ford Ranger Raptor set to adopt six-cylinder grunt to redefine pick-up performance Down Under.

Think we're over-selling it? We're not. If the current media reports are to be believed, Australia's best-selling utes are set to gain new flagships will shade everything from the Isuzu D-Max to the Mitsubishi Triton.

And that story will begin with the Ranger, which is set to lob this year. So let's start there, shall we.

Ford Ranger Raptor 2022

We've covered the new Ford Ranger in some detail - like in this comprehensive What We Know So Far story - including its shift to the revised T6.2 platform, the fact it will ape its F-150 brother in the looks department, and how it will share its underpinnings with the VW Amarok.

But what we're really excited about is where the Raptor story goes from here. And it's on this front that there's good news, including from Ford itself, who has promised it will be improving everything from its capability to its performance.

"There is a Raptor that we are working on. We do not comment on future product, but I would never want a product to be worse, or the same, as the last one," Ford Performance program manager Justin Capicchiano told CarsGuide in the past.

"If you're not moving the vehicle forwards, then you're gong backwards. There are a lot of people who care intimately about this car, and they want it to be better, and it will be better.

"When I compare what we did with other programs, everything moves forward, with different technologies with tyres, suspension, powertrains. You only need to look at the Mustang. Everyone loved it in 2015, it did everything a Mustang should do. Then in 2018, it just did it better.

"So there are ways you can do things like that, and that's got to be the focus. But you'll have to wait and see."

We also know, of course, that the Ranger Raptor will remain as focused on off-road performance as it will on-road polish, with Ford promising a balance of abilities.

But where it is likely to truly change the game is under its bonnet, where we're expecting a new diesel V6 to appear, replacing the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel of the current model, and seriously upping the grunt, too.

Yes, if you've ever thought the Raptor could do with more power, then those prayers could soon be answered by a punchy 3.0-litre turbo-diesel producing some 185kW and 600Nm. A petrol V6 is also expected, with the 2.7-litre twin-turbo unit good for 230kW and 540Nm.

Whether we get both engine options, or just the diesel, remains to be seen, but given the current Raptor makes 157kW and 500Nm, either would be a sizeable jump, and elevate the ute to a whole new level of performance.

And with the Ranger range expected to hit showrooms in early 2022, and the Raptor to follow hot on its heels, the wait is nearly over.

Toyota GR HiLux 2023

Not to be outdone, Toyota is hard at work at its own flagship ute, with the HiLux to finally welcome a Raptor-rivalling performance truck - powered by its own punchy six-cylinder diesel engine.

First, the bad news. We don't expect the GR HiLux - a name trademarked by the brand around the globe, which, combined with several telling hints from Toyota, suggests it's a matter of when, not if, for the go-fast ute - won't appear until the all-new HiLux is unveiled, which is though to be 2023.

But that said, it should also prove worth the wait, the GR HiLux thought - though it's unconfirmed by the brand - to adopt the six-cylinder diesel set to find a home in the new LandCruiser 300 Series.

Why do we think that? Because Toyota told that it was waiting for a "big diesel" to power its performance-flavoured HiLux, with its executives confirming as much to media way back in 2018, with the only lingering problem being that it didn't have one at its disposal. But the LandCruiser 300 Series should change that.

In fact, executives promise a new 3.3-litre six-cylinder diesel will outperform the current diesel V8 used in the LandCruiser 200 Series, which should mean outputs in excess of 200kW and 650Nm. And that means huge grunt for a GR HiLux.

According to Toyota, it would also need to show a "noticeable performance increase", and would be an absolute lock for Australia.

“The plan for us is that any product that comes into Australia with Gazoo-racing branding will primarily be focused on performance. It needs to be the full package. It needs to show a noticeable performance increase on our standard line-up,” a spokesperson told CarsGuide in the past.

“We will definitely put our hands up for anything that becomes available. And we will fight very hard for it."