Af­ford­able work­horse with a con­science

JMC Board­ing de­liv­ers at a bet­ter price than most ri­vals, but it’s not a quiet ex­pe­ri­ence

The Star Early Edition - - ROAD TESTS - DENIS DROPPA

CHI­NESE brand Jian­gling Mo­tors Co (JMC), which has been op­er­at­ing in South African since 2010, re­cently in­tro­duced a new Board­ing sin­gle cab bakkie with a cleaner 2.8-litre diesel en­gine con­form­ing to Euro IV emis­sions stan­dards.

It lets you lug loads with a cleaner con­science about the ef­fect on the en­vi­ron­ment, and though the price has risen as a con­se­quence, the Board­ing’s still one of the most af­ford­able one-ton­ners you can buy.

The stan­dard 4x2 ver­sion re­tails for R194 880 and comes with key-op­er­ated cen­tral lock­ing, an au­dio sys­tem and elec­tric win­dows, while there’s an LX model (on test here) that adds a cou­ple of ad­di­tional com­forts like air­con and faux leather seats for an ex­tra R10 000. Both Board­ing de­riv­a­tives can be or­dered with op­tional ABS brakes for five grand more but you sadly don’t get any airbags - not even as an ex­tra-cost op­tion.

Both Board­ing ver­sions get a ra­dio/CD player but our test car’s ra­dio had poor re­cep­tion.

The pay­load is a full one ton and the ground clear­ance is use­fully high 185mm which is suited to tack­ling rough farm roads. But you’ll ide­ally want to drive bumpier sur­faces with a de­cent-sized load in the back as the ride - as is typ­i­cal for a one-ton work­horse - is chron­i­cally bouncy with the bay empty.

In terms of in­te­rior qual­ity fin­ish this Chi­nese ve­hi­cle seems rea­son­able for a work­horse. There’s lots of hard, scratchy plas­tic but the fit and fin­ish seems de­cent. That said, there was a loose plas­tic panel rolling around in the footwell that had un­clipped from some­where.

There’s good head and el­bow room in­side the two-seater cabin but the seat back­rests aren’t able to tilt very far in this sin­gle cab. How­ever there is some lee­way for dif­fer­ent-sized driv­ers due to the height-ad­justable steer­ing col­umn.

Some fea­tures have not been prop­erly thought through. The slip­pery un­der­side of the floor mat made it slide around the driver’s footwell, which is ir­ri­tat­ing and could be­come a driv­ing haz­ard; I de­comis­sioned the mat and stuffed it be­hind the seat.

Also, the lid of the stor­age bin­na­cle be­tween the seats can’t be fully opened as it snags against the cabin’s rear bulk­head - clearly an af­ter­thought fea­ture.

The new 2.8 en­gine’s slightly more pow­er­ful (by 4kW and 10Nm) than the more pol­lut­ing Euro II ver­sion, but with 88kW and 245Nm it’s still rather un­der en­dowed for its size. Diesel ri­vals like the Ford Ranger 2.2, Tata Xenon 2.2, Nis­san NP300 2.5, and Toy­ota Hilux 2.4 all muster a lot more from smaller en­gines. That said, most of them are much more ex­pen­sive than the JMC and in terms of power-per-penny the Board­ing out­pow­ers its clos­est price ri­val, the GWM Steed 2.0.

The new Euro IV en­gine may be more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly but it’s not too easy­go­ing on the eardrums. It’s over­whelm­ingly noisy, and you never man­age to drown out that diesel’s trac­tor-like clat­ter even when you crank up the au­dio sys­tem’s vol­ume.

The JMC pulls rea­son­ably well and has a gutsy torque de­liv­ery with­out any ma­jor turbo lag, and when un­laden it is able to main­tain the 120km/h speed limit. The fac­tory-claimed fuel con­omy is 8 litres per 100km, but ex­pect this to rise with a load on board.

The five-speed man­ual gearshift is some­what sticky but it slips into its gates pos­i­tively and you don’t tend to miss gears. There’s some play in the steer­ing which doesn’t pro­mote too much con­fi­dence in cor­ner­ing, but the Board­ing main­tains de­cent di­rec­tional sta­bil­ity in a straight line. VER­DICT This blue-col­lar 4x2 bakkie from China is a com­pet­i­tively-priced work­horse and comes with a three­year/100 000km war­ranty and road­side as­sis­tance, with an op­tional ser­vice plan.

The fact that it’s based on a pre­vi­ous-gen­er­a­tion Isuzu may help ap­pease those still wary of Chi­nese ve­hi­cles. The Board­ing seems ca­pa­ble of an hon­est day’s work and the tur­bod­iesel en­gine de­liv­ers rea­son­ably gutsy pulling power. But bring earplugs. JMC VS RI­VALS JMC Board­ing 2.8 TD LX (84kW/235Nm) - R209 880. ABS, no airbags

Ford Ranger 2.2 (88kW/285Nm) - R239 900. Two airbags and ABS both op­tional

Fo­ton Tun­land 2.8 TD Com­fort (96kW/280Nm) - R209 995. One airbag and ABS

GWM Steed 5 2.0 WGT (78kW/225Nm) - R199 900. No airbags or ABS

Isuzu KB250 (58kW/170Nm) R236 500. No airbags or ABS

Mahin­dra Scorpio Pik-up 2.2CRDe (89kW/290Nm) - R223 995. Two airbags and ABS

Nis­san NP300 2.5 TDi (98kW/304Nm) - R233 900. No airbags or ABS

Tata Xenon 2.2 (110kW/320Nm) R219 995. Two airbags and ABS

Toy­ota Hilux 2.4 GD (110kW/343Nm) - R272 100. One airbag and ABS

JMC Board­ing has great ground clear­ance and big load space.

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