There is a new BUDGET BAKKIE in town.
The little workhorse can carry some serious loads and also traverse challenging terrain
THE first thing people ask when I tell them about Suzuki’s bargain bakkie, the SuperCarry, is: “Suzuki has a bakkie?”
The answer is yes, very much so, as the SuperCarry is a real workhorse in the lines of the cab-over-engine Mitsubishi L300, which legendary workhorses are still delivering council workers and tools to work sites to keep Msunduzi moving.
MADE TO LOAD
Unlike a modern bakkie with load bins so high you need a ladder to pop anything over the side and lengths so long you can park only in the truck bays, the new-generation Super Carry is tiny — or “ultra compact” as the brochure describes it.
Yet, its load deck has drop sides so the load bin is below hip height, and it is large enough to fit a pallet with ease.
In SA, the SuperCarry is licensed to carry 750 kg. Of course, in Seffricanspeak, three quarters of a ton sounds just like a ton and luckily this little bakkie is licensed for this weight in India, where it is quite popular.
The brochure also said the SuperCarry’s ground clearance of 175 mm allows the little workhorse “to traverse challenging terrain”.
My idea of “challenging” involves The Slope, a 30-degree sandy incline of ruts and tree roots, but the SuperCarry is not a 4x4, so I took it to the level but muddy grounds of Duzi Turf’s to load a pallet of grass.
GIVING IT STICK
Then I gave it the ultimate test — a female driver who have not driven stick in two years. After adjusting the seat forwards to depress the clutch fully (it is the one on the left, right?), we managed (just) not to spin the rear wheels all the way to the field being harvested. In fact, increase the ratio of the gears a cog or two and this little rear-wheel drive bakkie could become a very nice drifter toy in the lines of the old Nissan 1400.
A turning circle of just 8,6 metres ensures the SuperCarry could turn between the muddy spots, but with a load on the back and soft tyres, it will go over muddy terrain.
Suzuki’s proven GB12 four-cylinder petrol engine makes 54 kW at 6 000 r/ min and 101 Nm torque at 3 000 r/min. It does not sound a lot compared to the standard for big bakkies like the Hilux or Ranger, but the overstroked pistons and ratios (1:4,43 in first) of the fivespeed manual gearbox are such that the bakkie moves at legal speeds where you want to go over dirt or tar.
A fuel tank of 30 litres should give at least 300 km with a load, or fire the driver. The small 155/R13 tyres need a little care over potholes, but this size tyre is the cheapest to replace.
CREATURE, ERM, COMFORTS
As for creature comforts in the cabin, the brochure calls the design “simple and straightforward”. Translated, it means the driver seat can slide and there are two sun visors. Only the driver’s door unlocks — arguably a safety feature — and a 12 V socket keeps phones charged.
What the brochure does not tell you is the cubbyhole takes a six pack of cooldrinks and on a wintry day the 1 196 cc heater under the seats makes for cosy bums. From experience in these cab over engine bakkies, I must, however, warn those bums will also get a tad toasty on a hot days. There are two fixed air vents, and they point at the floor.
At R129 000 with a three-year or 100 000 km warrantee on Suzuki’s proven drivetrain, and R14 000 for a high Beekman canopy, only the longer, lower Changan Star 1,3 is cheaper. But this Chinese bakkie has a shorter warrantee (one year or 60 000 km).
The other contender, the turbo-diesel Tata SuperAce, has more power and the same warranty as the Suzi, but it has to shake the dismal reputation of the first Ace. Some would want to add the Daihatsu Gran Max at this point, especially as its 1,5 engine makes the most power (77 kW/140 Nm) in this group.
But the joke is on them, as Daihatsu’s owner, Toyota, has quietly closed this high-revving brand in South Africa.
PRICE AND POWER
Changan Star 1,3 R106 990 (60 kW/102 Nm) Suzuki SuperCarry 1,2 R129 900 (54 kW/101 Nm) Tata Super Ace 1,4TD R159 995 (52 kW/132 Nm)
In fact, increase the ratio of the gears a cog or two and this little rear-wheel drive bakkie could become a very nice drifter toy in the lines of the old Nissan 1400.
Suzuki’s SuperCarry is a real workhorse, but is value offering has yet to be discovered by the garden service providers in Msunduzi.