In the name of value

An Amer­i­can en­gine might get this Chi­nese ute over the line with Aus­tralians, CHRIS RI­LEY writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

IT’S all about the name.

But in this case it’s not Fo­ton but the name Cum­mins and any other moniker that peo­ple might recog­nise. Names that will lend the Chi­nese man­u­fac­turer some cred­i­bil­ity.

We’re sure the Tun­land ute is sound and that Chi­nese peo­ple don’t have any reser­va­tions about the brand, but Aussies might take a bit more con­vinc­ing.

Cum­mins sup­plies the engines for the Tun­land.

The Amer­i­can com­pany has been build­ing engines for al­most 100 years and now ex­ports them to more than 190 coun­tries, and its name could just be the car­rot that gets Aussies across the line.

Prices for the Fo­ton Tun­land start from $21,990 drive-away for the 4x2 model. The 4x4 dual cab model with a higher out­put diesel en­gine is $29,990 drive­away.

The lat­ter fea­tures leather, air­con­di­tion­ing, and power win­dows and mir­rors. Cruise con­trol is also stan­dard, plus Blue­tooth with au­dio stream­ing, four-speaker au­dio, AUX and USB in­puts, 17 inch al­loys, side steps, rear park­ing sen­sors and day­time run­ning lights.

And the ute comes with a three-year 100,000km war­ranty.

The dual-cab model has a one tonne ca­pac­ity and 2.5 tonne braked tow­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, along with a hard­wear­ing plas­tic-lined cargo tub.

In terms of off road ca­pa­bil­ity, it has 200mm of ground clear­ance, ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gles of 28 and 23 de­grees, high and low range and a limited slip rear diff.

A com­mon rail di­rect in­jec­tion Cum­mins 2.8-litre four-cylin­der turbo diesel pro­vides the power, in tan­dem with a five-speed Ge­trag man­ual trans­mis­sion.

The man­ual is not go­ing to be a de­ter­rent to most ute buy­ers, but the lack of an auto is some­thing of a hole in the oth­er­wise com­pelling val­ue­for-money ar­gu­ment.

The diesel comes in two guises, one with 96kW and the other with 120kW of power. Our 4x4 test ve­hi­cle gets the higher out­put en­gine with 120kW of power and 360Nm of torque, the lat­ter from a low 1800 revs.

The trans­fer case is sup­plied by Borgwarner and the axles and diffs by Dana.

Safety is the real is­sue here. The Tun­land comes with only two airbags and has been awarded only three out of five stars for safety by the Aus­tralian New Car Assess­ment Pro­gram (ANCAP).

This is a poor re­sult in a cli­mate where many util­i­ties are now achiev­ing a full five stars for safety, just like cars.

The ute also misses out on a rear view cam­era to avoid drive­way ac­ci­dents, but does come with ABS anti-lock brakes with elec­tronic brake force dis­tri­bu­tion.

The rear brakes, by the way, are drums. No sign or men­tion of life­sav­ing elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol.

Didn’t like this ute to start with. It’s big and noisy, and the gear­box can be awk­ward to use.

But it grows on you, as does the price.

The steer­ing wheel of­fers only tilt ad­just­ment but the driver’s seat fea­tures eight-way ad­just­ment.

The five speed man­ual is rather old hat be­cause most man­u­fac­tur­ers now of­fer six, and it could do with an­other cog at the top of the range.

The clutch pedal in our test ve­hi­cle had a long ac­tion and it was easy to be­come sloppy and not fully re­move your foot.

As a re­sult it was easy to slip the clutch and it can take a bit of prac­tice to achieve a clean change. The ute is slow off the mark, slow to ac­cel­er­ate and also not com­fort­able in city traf­fic.

But with low range and plenty of ground clear­ance it is a com­pe­tent medium duty of­froader.

Chang­ing from two-wheel drive to four high or four low is as easy as push­ing a but­ton.

Yes. It’s cheap and it does of­fer value for money, but what price do you put on safety, es­pe­cially if you’re go­ing to stick a cou­ple of kids in the back of a week­end? Three stars out of five.

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