It is the Courier's first V6, producing a handy 154kW at 5250rpm to best the next one-tonne rival, Holden Rodeo's at 147kW. (Be aware there is an all-new Toyota HiLux not far down the track; its new V6 may up those odds again.)

This fresh drive for the one-tonne ute market comes from the increasing number of buyers looking for a dual-purpose machine – workmate through the week, family truck with spunk on the weekend.

Explore the 2005 Ford Courier Range

The Australian ute market was up 13 per cent last year and Ford reckon this six-cylinder pickup market will top 20,000 this year.

So there are eight V6 Courier utes in two and four-wheel drive joining a range of more than 30 Courier models for 2005.

All the two-wheel drive V6s are crew cabs; the four-wheel drives are crew cabs plus a super cab in base trim.

To ensure these four-litre V6 models do not pass unnoticed in the paddock, Ford have jacked them all up 20mm.

This gives the two-wheel-drive Couriers the road stance of a four-wheel drive, a little more ground clearance plus a little more aggression to the style.

Ford folk recognise that buyers in this segment, especially those looking for a dual-purpose machine, can do with a little style. Whether the worker appreciates that raised cabin and tray remains to be seen.

And furthering the cause of sophistication, the automatic transmission for this V6 is a five-speed, as found in the Ford Explorer.

Prices for the Courier V6s start at $30,990 and run to $43,190.

There is a small price premium over Holden's Rodeo, but all the Ford V6s have airconditioning, more power and the five-speed automatic option at no cost over the five-speed manual gearbox.

Ford's V6 runs two overhead camshafts and a variable induction system. The engine is built in Germany and sent to South Africa where it is married to a Thai-built body and then shipped to Australia.

All V6 models have wheel arch flares, bigger on the XLT than the GL. XLTs arrive with 15-inch alloy wheels and all V6 models score an 80-litre fuel tank plus extra body colour choice.

Four-wheel drive on-the-fly is now available on automatic models.

Inside is much as before. The Courier range was refreshed late last year with some trim changes plus new stereo systems.

The V6 models pick up airconditioning plus an airconditioning-cooled centre console box. There is still little room for the left foot in a tight driver's footwell but the interior is comfortable and convenient, if not as well-finished as some rivals.

Up front the V6 is smooth and peaceable. Maximum torque of 323Nm arrives at 3000rpm, the motor sounds better as it works toward the 5500rpm red line and the automatic transmission smothers some of the V6's urgency.

The motor, while tidy enough in front of the five-speed auto, is best appreciated with the five-speed manual (although some manual boxes at the V6 launch were a touch baulky in the shift quality.)

Certainly the four-litre V6 shifts the Couriers along without concern at keeping up with the traffic.

The ride comfort up front is quite acceptable, unladen V6 utes will jump the back and spin rear wheels if provoked.

A quick run over good and bad bitumen, good and bad gravel shows the Courier V6 a quick point-to-point machine. Unloaded there is a deal of power slipping and sliding on the gravel, the steering is a little light and refinement levels not quite up to the Falcon ute. Yet no doubt the V6 Couriers, with this power and price, will have appeal among those dual purpose buyers. It looks the part and plays the part.

Towing capacity is 1800kg and payloads around 1100kg.

The new V6s join the existing four-cylinder, 2.6 litre petrol and 2.5 litre turbo diesel engines in the Courier range, a line-up which saw a 15 per cent lift through 2004 for the best year for Couriers since their introduction here in the 1970s.

Mazda's V6 utes arrive around August or September.