THE BAKKIE segment in South Africa is a difficult one to crack. The most dominating players (Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger) pretty much have the segment licked, so it will take something rather extraordinary to sway consumers from these two powerhouses.

Foton SA believe the newly Tunland has what it takes to dethrone the kings. It’s a brave statement to say the least - especially when South Africans are still wary of Chinese products - but the guys at Foton have faith that their Tunland 4x2 is more than a worthy challenger.

The Foton is aggressively highlighting its exceptional value-for-money proposition. There’s certainly no denying this fact, as the bakkie comes in at 40 percent cheaper than the market leader. But does it boast the same ruggedness and dependability the top dogs are renowned for?

From the outset I have to say yes. The Tunland double cab is well suited to an active, outdoor lifestyle thanks to its high ride height and off-road characteristics. Add to this a rollover bar on the load box and a tonneau cover and side steps on the Lux model and suddenly the Tunland starts to look the part.

The interior is well equipped with the creature comforts one expects in a double cab, including air conditioning, audio system with MP3 and USB compatibility and electric windows, as well as rear park distance control on the Luxury 4x2 model. The materials used in the cabin are still below par when compared to the Japanese, but it’s a start.

The Cummins ISF engine, which powers all Tunland models, develops 120kW of power and 360Nm of torque, while the fuel consumption figures is a claimed 8.3 litres/100 km and has a Co2-emissions rating of 219g/km.

The motor has plenty of low-down grunt and it does cruise along on the open road nicely. The fact that the bakkie can operate on 500ppm diesel fuel will be appealing to consumers in more rural areas due to the current limited availability of 50ppm diesel. This does have a downside, however, as it’s resulted in cutting service intervals from 20 000km to 10 000km, but the company believes this is a good trade-off in return for using fuel that is less expensive and readily available all over South Africa.

Another downside is the current amount of Foton dealerships, which is sitting at 35 outlets, although there are plans to extend this to 40 by the end of next year.

Foton seems confident that it’s heading in the right direction with the Tunland and plans to expand the line-up with single-cab- and king-cab derivatives soon.

Overall, the Tunland 4x2 offers exactly what it promises: a lot of bakkie for its price. However, the longevity and dependability is yet to be seen, especially since we know South Africans love to keep their bakkies for well over 300 000km. That said, Foton have outdone a few of its fellow Chinese rivals with this offering and now all it needs to do is convince the customer.

The Tunland will be sold with a 3-yr / 100 000km warranty and a 2-yr/40 000km service plan.

Pricing:

Tunland 4x2 Comfort R249 950
Tunland 4x2 Lux R269 950

 

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