Like a dog that comes back no matter how many times it gets kicked - and a lifesaver!
Front brakes failed. This was after going into 4' of water at 140kph. My mistake was thinking the graunching was just sand and it would work out. Turned out the graunching got worse, and one day the brakes were gone. Because of my inaction, the rotors, discs, et al needed replacing, rather than just the pads. Cost? NZ$770 at a garage known for its reasonable prices.
Rear universal joint snapped, dropping the driveshaft onto the road. This was again my fault, was doing some burnouts and took it too far for a truck with an auto box. $270 to fix, but UJ's were never aligned properly after that, resulting in 80-110kph vibration.
Front and rear bumpers both badly mangled offroading. $190 apiece (although $150 because I came across as a poor student and got a discount) to replace with chinese replicas, plus $40 a corner for the plastic bits, which I didn't bother with.
Almost every panel dented - never fixed.
Purchased for $3500 in great order - 1 owner NZ new, never taken offroad. Used it to learn how to drive offroad. As I taught myself, the Jeep took a few hits.
One day we were going up the beach doing speed tests - idiotic I know - after achieving 140 I tried 150 (on LPG, petrol on road max speed is around 170) - which went great until I hit a soft spot of sand at 145. I knew that if I tried to steer it straight or brake it would definitely roll - so I let it do its own thing, which was skewing to the right until we were pointed into the 5' surf. When we hit the water it was still doing over 100. Needless to say, the water stopped us pretty quickly, and I was able to back it out before we stalled. This truck was not ready to die yet.
I thought it would never go again, but once we had been towed back onto the main road, I simply took out the airbox, which was a swimming pool by then, then turned it over again and again until the battery was almost flat. Then she fired up, and after an oil and filters change it went like new. We were very lucky to get out of that sticky situation.
When the UJ popped, one of the bolts shot up into the underbody at great speed. There was a deep dent, but the mechanic who fixed it said that if it was a Japanese truck such as a Surf, the bolt would have gone straight through the floor - hitting the LPG tank and likely igniting it.
As for driving day to day, I would best describe the Jeep as not for the inexperienced. I have done an advanced driving course, and some entry level racing, so I have a fair idea of how to get the feel of a particular vehicle and how to handle it in an emergency. The steering is vague, but if you know how to use it then that is not a problem - in fact it could be pushed into corners sideways as easily as a Falcon or a Cefiro after a bit of practice.
Likewise, the brake pedal is not a simple matter of stamp on it and it will stop. I would recommend buying a later model or the Limited - fitted with antilock brakes - as you need to be careful not to lock it up. An experienced driver will have no problem with the brakes; you can stop VERY quickly with the right pedal pressure and use of the handbrake. However a friend was driving one night - up Queen St in the wet - and the car in front stopped at a traffic light. He slammed on the brakes and of course slid -at exactly the same speed- straight into the other car. The result was the car in front suffering severe damage, and a bit of a ding to the front of the Jeep.
The truck was very comfortable on long trips; my only complaint being the lack of cruise control, and in a combination of city/backroad/offroad driving, I averaged 310km to a 55l LPG tank ($50). This meant that the cost to run was around that of a 3.0 late 90's Maxima or similar, or a Surf turbodiesel without road user taxes. Not fantastic, but, considering that it had almost double the power (and you really know it's there) of a Surf, not bad either. The LPG took a little bit of the torque, but this has so much anyway, and the savings over petrol, which would cost $120 for a 400km tank, are enormous.
In conclusion - it's a fantastic faithful truck - if you know what you're doing. If you want a remuera tractor, however, DON'T BUY IT! I can't pass judgement on day to day reliability, but seeing as I treated it like it was stolen, I'd say she did pretty well.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 4th October, 2007