A real purpose built workhorse
The exhaust system began to break apart by 100,000 km, primarily due to some weak points in the structure and most probably is a design flaw in these early versions. The problem was solved by a series of welded joints and some re-enforcement.
The fuel tank is seriously misplaced. It is a welcome and open area for that occasional flying rock. As a result I have had to completely rebuild the lower portion over three times (starting at 70,000km and onwards). It is a very expensive and time consuming replacement. The guard provided is only sufficient to keep the mud away!
The hydraulic master pump of the brakes constantly leaks from 80,000 km. The dealer I consulted has not still been able to supply me with the correct sized repair kit. As a result brake fluid leaks under heavy braking. Leaking brake fluid eats its way through the paint on the body as well as the chassis and the entire area has rusted.
The rubber seal between the engine block and the engine cover leaked spilling oil throughout the engine compartment. The seal was replaced.
A seal in the fuel pump gave way and leaked fuel. Was expensive to repair.
The Universal joints started to chatter. Replacement was easy.
This is a very nice utilitarian vehicle built for commercial use (at least these earlier versions!)
This truck does not have any power assisted features such as assisted steering, shutters etc.. (Except for the servo brakes) and has no air conditioning.
This is my only vehicle and I use it as my primary mode of transport. It is certainly not an enjoyable vehicle on the tarmac as it gives a very bumpy ride (as a result of using cross ply tires, they provide me with my requirement of height and heavy load baring ability).
The vehicle feels at home on the dirt track, but loves to dive into (and get stuck) even in the smallest mud pool. (The rear drive wheels do not get enough grip as the rear is so light). A Limited Slip differential (LSD) would have proved itself worthy (it was only available with the 4WD version)
The 4D56 (naturally aspirated) engine is a lovely power house and has given no trouble at all, so far. It provides sufficient power (marginal) and is reasonably economical. The engine bay has ample room and is very easy to find and replace parts.
Cornering is a big problem at speeds above 50kmph as it becomes very unstable, quite understandable as the weight distribution is at two extremes (the heavy front and the lighter rear). Cornering is further complicated with heavy body-roll which cannot be expected to be so harsh, as the vehicle is equipped with an anti-roll bar and stabilizer bars.
I have only managed 120kmph so far. But even that required whipping the engine to squeeze out enough power. But normal cruising is effortless.
The Gear box is quite user friendly and the gear ratios have been placed well.
Managed to get beautiful chrome bumpers on both front and rear. They are the pride of the car and are very very hard. I unfortunately had to find out that the hard way.
Moving inside, the interior is almost completely made of plastics and synthetic material that resemble leather, all purpose built to make the interior easier to clean. Even the seats are washable.
The front seat is a single unit bench, without the ability to recline the unit. All seats lack lumber support and all aboard, including driver are tossed around when cornering. The interior (and even the exterior for that matter) has held quite well so far even after being battered by the elements 24/7.
All in all this is a very practical, economical and efficient vehicle with ample luggage space for that holiday trip to the hillside. It is no wonder that it later evolved into a family favourite for holidaying.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 20th June, 2005