Until very recently, the most luxurious new pick-up truck you could buy in the UK came from Mercedes-Benz. You still can get yourself a dealer-stock 20-plate example in poshest X350d form for around £40,000. But why settle for a European interpretation of an American staple when you can have the real deal in the form of a Dodge Ram 1500 with a twist for less?
If you’re thinking that US pick-ups are among the least sophisticated modes of transport on earth, that isn’t the case with the Ram 1500. For starters, it has coil springs all around so you need not carry half a tonne of gravel with you at all times to get a decent ride. Then there’s an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox that also sees service (with different tuning) in the current Range Rover and is even used by Rolls-Royce.
What about fuel economy? Yes, this pick-up does use an enormous petrol V8 of 5.7 litres. But it has cylinder deactivation to cut consumption, so mid-20s to the gallon is possible. And that twist we mentioned? This example has an LPG system fitted, so can run on that fuel or petrol. With LPG being cheaper than diesel, daily running costs should be broadly similar to those of the V6 diesel X-Class. Plus, the Ram can tow 1000kg more than the Mercedes.
When buying a vehicle fitted with LPG, inspect the V5C document because the DVLA should have been informed that it’s now a dual-fuel vehicle and modified the ‘Type of fuel’ field. That way, you’ll get your alternative fuel discount. Also, make sure it comes with a certificate from a registered LPG installer because you may need to show your insurer a copy of it to get cover for the vehicle.
There isn’t a statutory inspection regime for LPG systems, but you could get it checked by a registered fitter to ensure the system functions correctly and that it complies with the Road Vehicle (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.
Audi A8, £950
Mark Pearson: There is no better all-round luxury car in the world than the Merc S-Class, we all know that – the car that’s led the way in technology and innovation and ferried more rock stars and dignitaries to premieres than any other vehicle. Mine is a perfectly usable petrol-engined limo with a low mileage for a 2000 model and a cheeky turn of speed. Lovely. What have you got, Max? Is it an Audi 80?
Max Adams: Dictators have also been ferried around in S-Classes, let’s not forget. And as for low mileage, neither of us can claim victory there – especially not yours, with 140k miles. My understated first-generation A8 was revolutionary since it was made of lightweight aluminium, which also has the benefit of not rotting. Unlike yours, which has frilly rear arches and a history of needing welding on past MOTs.
MP: Details, details. My Merc cuts it at any function, whereas your five-years-older Audi 100 – sorry, A4 or whatever it is – is just an… Audi, isn’t it?
MA: The A8 was the star of the best car chase movie, Ronin, I think you’ll find. In the same shade of green, too.
MP: The only shade of green I can see here, Max, is the tinge of jealousy on your upturned apple cheeks. It’s a clear victory for the three-pointed star. James?
Verdict: I’ll take the plus-sized A4, please.