Fo­ton read­ies for the sauna that is SA’s SUV mar­ket

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - — Wheels Re­porter.

FO­TON Auto South Africa is cur­rently eval­u­at­ing a medium- to large-size SUV based on its Tun­land pre­mium one-ton pick-up for pos­si­ble in­tro­duc­tion to the lo­cal mar­ket.

The SUV, which has been named Sau­vana, was shown for the first time at the Guangzhou Auto Show last year.

The Sau­vana, which is Fo­ton Auto’s first foray into the in­creas­ingly popular SUV mar­ket, is due to go on sale in China early this year and will then be rolled out to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

De­signed and de­vel­oped un­der the code name U201, the Sau­vana is a bodyon-frame de­sign which of­fers rear­wheel or all-wheel drive op­tions to seat five or seven oc­cu­pants, depend­ing on the model.

There is a choice of two tur­bocharged en­gines, a Cum­mins ISF diesel 2,8 litre and a Euro V com­pli­ant, di­rect in­jec­tion, petrol two-litre, with the avail­abil­ity of five- and six-speed man­ual gear­boxes or a six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. No fi­nal de­ci­sion has been made on a power train if the Sau­vana is launched in SA.

The diesel en­gine de­vel­oped in a joint ven­ture by Fo­ton and Cum­mins which is fit­ted to the Tun­land range of ve­hi­cles has proved to be strong and re­li­able and is per­form­ing ex­cep­tion­ally well in terms of its dura­bil­ity. The Fo­ton Sau­vana SUV uses a twin wish­bone in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion and a five-link con­trol sys­tem for the solid rear axle for a com­fort­able and sta­ble ride.

Fo­ton is clear with its in­tent of pro­duc­ing a luxury SUV and a de­ci­sion is ex­pected soon as to whether or not the Fo­ton Sau­vana will be in­tro­duced to the SA mar­ket. Fo­ton ve­hi­cles are cur­rently sold through 36 sales and ser­vice out­lets in South Africa, backed by Im­pe­rial and Bid­vest.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED.

Read­ing be­tween the lines, Fo­ton looks set to ex­port its Sau­vana to its 36 deal­ers in SA in the near fu­ture.

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