In the name of value
An American engine might get this Chinese ute over the line with Australians, CHRIS RILEY writes
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.