Handsome, and able to deliver
SO, you want a strong workhorse bakkie? Well, for a lot of low-down torque you need look no further than Ford’s single cab bakkie equipped with the 2,2 auto drivetrain.
At Wheels, we rate this bakkie for its 385 Nm, which is more than you need to pull a boat or carry a load, and its sweet 118 kW power delivery makes highway driving a pleasure.
“Alas!”, we hear you say, “you can’t afford the R321 900 recommended retail price of the auto Ranger.”
Well, then your obvious choice is either of the hardworking Indians — Tata’s Xenon Fleetline with its 300 Nm at R163k or Mahindra’s Bolero with its 238 Nm at R169 k.
Aah, but now you ask: “Will I look sexy in it?” This demand takes us back to the Ford, but not a Ford-Ford — the Ford-Mazda as in the BT-50 — and then not the original BT-50 either, but the clone built by China’s Jianling Motor Corporation, (JMC).
Bear with me, it only sounds complicated.
For what Ford doesn’t really encourage us to tell you is that JMC has been building its bakkies and Transit vans in China since 1997 and that the Vigus bakkies we can buy here have previous generation Ford’s Duratorq engines under the hood of that (we like to think) prettier BT-50-inspired nose.
As for price, Pietermaritzburg’s Metro Cars (which is one of SA’s biggest JMC dealers) is selling the new 2,4 single-cab Vigus petrol for just under R200 k and the diesel for some R210 k, while sales manager Elvis Naidoo is always willing to talk trade-ins.
So how good are the Chinesebuilt, previous-generation Duratorq engines? Back in 2014, I took the Vigus double-cab 4x4 to Diesel Works in Pietermaritzburg and that 2,4 Duratorq turbo-diesel engine tested 83 kW at 3 363 rpm and 286 Nm at 2 003 rpm — as close to the official 88 kW and 290 Nm as a hot day in KZN would allow. The 4x4 also went up our Slope easily.
With the 4x4 turned off on dirt roads, its stiff suspension felt planted and just begged for a bit of drifting through corners.
With the same engine but less mass, the single-cab Vigus has almost too much power and one has to be quick off the hair-trigger clutch not to spin the rear wheels. But gear changes requires old-style double clutching to avoid grinding the first and second cogs.
Put a load on it, and the handsome single-cab Vigus will perform as good as any other workhorse, with the reassurance of a well-reputed workshop at Metro Car Sales to back the factory’s five-year or 60 000 km service plan, and that nice warm glow one gets from saving a tidy pile.
The range of JMC Vigus bakkies has to, ahem, ford some deep waters to compete with established bakkies in SA, but the new single cab offers Newtons and looks to spare, with a good price and a new five-year or 60 000 km service plan to boot.