Stop­per

It’s a Daily drive for emer­gency ser­vices and ad­ven­tur­ers

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - BIG WHEELS - NEIL DOWLING

De­signed mainly for com­mer­cial ap­pli­ca­tions, it still has ap­peal for re­tirees or Lotto win­ners who love the Out­back. The dual-cab is big enough to seat six with ex­em­plary head and legroom, full tilt-and-rake steer­ing ad­just­ment and heat­ing for the two front seats. The cabin gets an au­dio sys­tem, air­con­di­tion­ing, elec­tric win­dows, cruise con­trol, power ex­ter­nal mir­rors, big stor­age ar­eas and cooled glovebox.

Ri­vals in­clude the Fuso FG and Isuzu NPS though both are phys­i­cally big­ger and, de­pend­ing on GVM, may re­quire a truck li­cence. Volk­swa­gen is yet to im­port the Crafter 4Motion cab-chas­sis and van.

DE­SIGN

Big, squared off yet al­most cute. It’s huge in the me­tal though looks Tonka toy-like in pho­tos. It stands 2.7m high, is 2m wide (plus the gi­ant side mir­rors) with an im­pres­sive 300mm ground clear­ance on sand tyres.

It also has a mas­sive 50-de­gree ap­proach an­gle and up to 41 de­grees de­par­ture, which are hard to ri­val. It has a com­mand­ing seat­ing po­si­tion yet is as sim­ple as many vans. In­deed, the 4x4 is based on the Daily two-wheel drive van. The flat cabin floor al­lows oc­cu­pants to slip fore and aft.

The rear seat takes four adults and has a stor­age bin be­neath the cush­ions.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The 3.0-litre four-cylin­der biturbo and in­ter­cooled diesel engine (125kW/400Nm) will drink about 15.0L/100km. Peak torque comes in from 1250rp­m3000rpm.

Drive goes to all wheels through a six-speed man­ual gear­box with two sets of trans­fer ra­tios, ef­fec­tively cre­at­ing 24 for­ward cogs. Three dif­fer­en­tial locks can be en­gaged se­quen­tially — cen­tre diff, rear and front — while the axles are heavy-duty jobs on leaf springs.

It’s built tough so has a 4.5-tonne GVM (5.2-tonne op­tional) and this doesn’t af­fect its 3.5-tonne tow­ing abil­ity. There are also front disc brakes with rear drums and hy­draulic power-as­sist rack and pin­ion steer­ing. Tyre choices from Miche­lin in­clude the ag­gres­sive sand tyres (as tested) which are rated to 100km/h.

SAFETY

Prob­a­bly more of a con­cern for other road users. The Daily 4x4 car­ries no crash test re­sult. It has two airbags, ABS with elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion but no elec­tronic sta­bil­ity or trac­tion con­trol. The gi­gan­tic heated side mir­rors have two sets of lenses each and there’s a kerb­side mir­ror.

DRIV­ING

Once you get over the driver’s seat height, the Daily 4x4 is as easy as most other vans to drive on the road. The sand tyres whine (the stan­dard road-bias 110km/h-rated tyres are bet­ter) and at 100km/h the engine is spin­ning at 2200rpm, mak­ing it a leisurely coun­try cruiser.

It’s com­fort­able and its size gives oc­cu­pants a sense of se­cu­rity. Steer­ing is pleas­antly firm while the gear­box shift and clutch ac­tion feel is as good — and as light — as most mid­size pas­sen­ger cars.

The vis­i­bil­ity is like the view from a third-floor apart­ment. In the dirt, at Perth’s RAC Driv­ing Cen­tre, the Daily 4x4 is al­most un­stop­pable.

All the clever stuff starts with the grunty engine and the spread of the re­duc­tion box’s gear ra­tios. It’s bet­ter to let the engine lug rather than rev it. Only in des­per­a­tion will the front diff be needed.

VER­DICT

An ex­tremely ca­pa­ble, sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able and well-en­gi­neered ma­chine for se­lect own­er­ship.

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