Good buy in the van market
With a change in service providers, good after-market service is assured
WHEN we first reported on the Maxus 16-seat midi-bus in February last year, we put on record our liking for the product but reserved judgment on the after-market service.
At that stage, Maxus was one of two new 16-seaters trying to impress taxi owners against the BAW, which is assembled in Springs, and the Nissan NV350 Impendulo, which is available only in petrol.
We ended up recommending the Citroën Relay 15-seater with its 20 000 km service intervals as the best buy at that stage.
Since then, UD trucks has taken over the sales from what amounted to indifferent multifranchise car dealers, ensuring that the sturdy Chinese van now has sales staff who respect the needs of commercial-vehicle owners.
These needs are quick finance and quicker service, as Wheels found when our test van came complete with a driver from UD Pinetown, who hitched a ride to fetch a V80 for its service from a school in Pietermaritzburg.
During the week of testing, we parked the Maxus at several taxi ranks, (alas, we had no permit to transport passengers) and asked commuters for their opinions. Top of the like list were the very solid grab handle and step, the spacious seats and the automatic lights at night.
Top of the dislike list were the light-grey seat covers (wena, how will you keep this clean, eh?) and the automatic door locks (you mean I have to press that unlock button every time I stop for a passenger? Aikona!).
At night, the Maxus is at its most impressive, with adjustable headlights, automatic interior lights and all-blue back lighting on the essential buttons like the electric windows and air conditioner.
On the road, a rattle on the back doors and squeak on the side door became very irritating very quickly. These were the only niggles, and the able sound system soon drowned them out, with the radio providing clear FM signal and an aux plug-in point for MP3 players.
Maxus claims 100-year-old British genes for its 2,5 TD V80, and 330 Nm from 1 800 rpm. On the never-ending incline that is Fields Hill, it became clear that this power is measured on the flywheel, not the tar, as the empty V80 could not keep to a steady 100 km/h against a loaded Mercedes-Benz Sprinter which has similar power specs.
But then even a used Sprinter costs substantially more than the R300 k price of a new Maxus 16seater, which does look a good buy at R299 000. This includes a three-year or 100 000 km factory warranty and an optional five-year or 90 000 km service plan for R13 900. Service intervals are at 15 000 km and as a trucking scribe, I can vouch for UD’s service. In the Japanese trucking stable, the Maxus taxi has finally got a home worthy of its genes, and with the price now below R300 k, this Chinese van competes head on with the French Relay for those rare buyers willing to experiment outside the Toyota fold.
The interior of the ‘luxury’ Maxus V80 is as comfy as it gets, while the drive of the van lives up to its sturdy stance.
The Maxus 16-seater midi-bus impressed would-be commuters with its spacious seats.