Wham, Bam, Thank You Van!
Changan Mini Van
Indwe recently had a chance to take the Changan Mini Van out for a spin – and discovered that it’s not just a bread van.
I know what the Changan Minivan is meant for. In fact, more crucially, I know what it isn’t meant for, but I did the school run in it anyway. But before we discuss the car, I think I need to elaborate on the cargo. That’s myself and my three boisterous boys aged eight, nine and 17. You see a delivery vehicle, they see a tiny party bus. A party bus with seating for five, a hold for school bags and aftercare duffels – or our Staffies, if my boys had their way.
There’s the 1,243 cc engine and the thimbles of power and torque it could fill with its 71 kW and 119 Nm, hooked up via a five-speed manual box of gears. According to the brochure, the Changan has a top speed of 120 km/h. To which my boys replied: “You can go faster than that, Daddy!” And for science’s sake, I did – albeit really not by much. But to begin once again at the beginning, that’s not really what the Changan Minivan is for.
MORE ‘VAN MAN’ THAN VAN DAMME The Changan makes a lot more sense as a low-cost delivery and service vehicle. Think plumber, contractor, wire installer,
the proverbial man-in-a-white-van companion, stickered to the high heavens in their company’s logos, telephone numbers, social-media handles and stuff of that ilk.
In that context its R146,800 price tag (or spoil yourself at R164,880 with the Lux model) represents excellent value. Its low-rent cabin feels satisfyingly robust and capacious enough to suit my brood, so I assume more than up to the task of swallowing a load of plumbing gear, tools, pipes . . . whatever your flavour, really.
Handling is competent thanks to a hardy suspension, Macpherson struts across the front axle, and leaf springs at the rear. Braking is adequate thanks to a combination system of discs upfront and ye olde drums at the back. You’ll consume many miles between trips to the pump thanks to a 40-litre petrol tank and a conservative 6.5 l/100 km of unleaded being swilled from that 1,243 cc engine. Makes sense then, since the whole thing only weighs 1,130 kg – impressive for what is essentially a one-tonner.
The build quality is still not up to some of the standards set by more established industry players, but it is forgivable to me in a workhorse at this price, and I can vouch for the little Changan.
It comes in three body styles: this minivan, as well as two bakkies, a single and double cab with the prior being the entry-level at R131,880. They all come with a three-year/100,000 km warranty, so consider that when evaluating its true “peace of mind” potential. It’s plucky and almost loveable – easily the most interesting car I’ve taken through the McDonald’s drive-thru this year. And if you’re a budding entrepreneur or just a financially-savvy one, it deserves to be on your radar.