Hand­some, and able to de­liver

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - AL­WYN VILJOEN

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.

PHOTO: YOUTUBE

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.

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