SOUTH Africa is a nation that is proud to say it loves bakkies. Some of the best-selling vehicles in SA are bakkies and therefore a company like Jiangling Motors Company Limited or JMC as it’s known, would stand itself in good stead to have a decent bakkie offering in the market.
I recently got behind the wheel of the brand’s Vigus, for a week, to see what this new contender is all about. Before anyone judges this for being Chinese let’s not forget that the progress made in the Chinese automotive segment has occurred at a staggeringly fast pace. Take the Foton Tunland I drove last year, which was certainly a massive improvement over the first batch of Chinese bakkies brought in locally.
I’ll be honest and admit, the Vigus doesn’t really move the Chinese bakkie game on. It does have a better interior, gearbox and slightly more modern designthan the Foton, however, the 88kW/290Nm Ford 2.4-litre TDCI engine simply makes the Vigus frustrating to get up to speed. JMC claim a fuel consumption figure of 8.2 litres/100km, however, during my time with the car I managed around10.5 litres/100km.
There is a petrol variant which uses a 2.4-litre Mitsubishi engine with95kW/201Nm and will most probably provide similar levels of performance, albeit with higher fuel consumption. The powertrain options are quite disappointing; the bakkie simply needs more grunt.
In terms of looks, the Vigus isn’t a bad looking vehicle; its rear quarters are actually quite attractive, while its front-end is distinctive enough to give it some road presence. I did notice the colours on the vehicle did not match as the shade of gold differed from the front bumper to the side panel. This may be a result of paint reacting differently on plastic versus metal.
There was also an issue with the badging, for example, the one side of the bakkie featured a 2.4-litre badge and the other side was bare - quite bizarre. Its6.5-inch touch screen infotainment system and fascia work well though, and it looks good with USB, DVD and AUX compatibility. Bluetooth would have been a welcome addition.
It has leather seats, electric windows, air conditioning, ABS and EBD along withdriver and passenger airbag as standard in the higher end SLX model that I had a go in. The 4X4 model that I drove has an on-the-fly switch which allows the driver to select between two-wheel, four-wheel-high and four-wheel-low range.
It is a capable off-road vehicle with a decent amount of ground clearance (225mm) and decent traction from its all-terrain tyres. We took it up a few steep slopes covered in slippery grass and sharp rocks and it handled well.
Overall, the review of the Vigus may not seem all that positive, however, the Vigus is by no means a bad product. It’s easy to drive, comfortable and looks good.
The Vigus comes with a three-year/100 000km warranty and a five-year/60 000km service plan.
Pricing for our JMC Vigus 4x4 SLX Diesel is R355 990.