With the local sales of new vehicles plummeting almost as fast as the ANC’s credibility, these are difficult times in which to launch an all-new model lineup on our shores.
That is the first problem facing the JMC Group and the introduction of their seven-model Vigus bakkie range.
The second impediment would be the vehicle’s name.
After all, everybody knows “what happens in Vigus, stays in Vigus”, making it unlikely for owners to talk about their new JMC bakkies.
That is unfortunate, because in fact, the JMC Vigus is a pretty impressive vehicle. We came to that conclusion after testing the top-of-the-range diesel 4×4 SLX model.
As with most JMC vehicles, we must start with the price.
At R375 990, you get a large double cab, all-wheel drive, turbo diesel bakkie with ABS brakes and EBD traction control.
And, if you buy it now, it comes with a R25 000 discount that can be used for trade-in assistance, a deposit or accessories.
All diesel models in the Vigus range are powered by a four-cylinder, 2.4-litre, common-rail injected turbo diesel unit that delivers 88kW of power at 4 000rpm and 290Nm of torque, available between 1 500rpm and 2 600rpm.
The grunt and twist goes to all four wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox.
None of which translates into a racer, but the test bakkie got its 1 955kg of unladen body mass going reasonably well.
It would accelerate best between 60km/h and 100km/h, exactly what is needed most when passing other vehicles on Gauteng’s congested roads.
The gearbox was notchy, notably during downshifts, but we got used to it, and it somehow added to the vehicle’s stated role as a working bakkie that can double up as a toy for weekend recreation.
So did its disc brakes all-round and 16-inch alloy wheels, housed in 265/70R16 rubberware. The fuel tank capacity is 68 litres.
We did not take the Vigus off-roading, but with ground clearance of 225mm and a turning circle of 7.1m, we are sure it will handle dirt roads well.
We used it the way most of its buyers would – trundling around in Joburg’s traffic.
That calls for interior comfort, which the Vigus supplied.
It boasts air conditioning, fourway adjustable leather seats, an adjustable multifunction steering wheel, electric windows and side mirrors, foldable armrests front and rear, a radio, CD and DVD player, and MP3 system, central locking, plus a large glovebox and rear parking sensors.
Safety features include threepoint seatbelts front and rear, plus airbags for both the driver and front passenger.
We made no efforts to drive the Vigus economically, thus an average fuel usage figure of 10.7 litres per 100km came as an agreeable surprise.
Careful driving in more favourable conditions should yield better consumption figures.
In all, we think the Vigus offers good value for money. It will do what most other bakkies of that size can do, without paying for a prestigious badge on the grille.