Road tests 6.6.2018 09:27 am

Sensible Vigus 4×4 Diesel bakkie impresses

This vehicle doesn’t compromise performance for its low price.

Remember the movie Gandhi? Produced by Sir Richard Attenborough and starring Ben Kingsley, it was a massive production with more than 3 000 actors and extras, a budget of over R300 million and a wide range of internationally diverse locations.

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It took more than three years to produce and the finished product ran for longer than three hours in theatres.

So, you would think they could find five minutes, somewhere, for a car chase.

But no, that was too much to ask, and audiences had to live with the compromised end result.

Yet, Gandhi was met with wide acclaim, bagging various Oscars and rewarding its investors lavishly by earning over R1,4 billion at the box office.

Shows you – compromise is not always a bad thing.

So it is too with the JMC Vigus bakkie.

In the highly competitive South African bakkie market, which overflows with technologically advanced, extremely expensive variants, the Vigus unapologetically offers various Back to Basics products at very affordable prices.

We sampled the Vigus Single Cab 4×4 Luxury Diesel model which, at R299 990, costs substantially less than any other local vehicle with one-ton carrying ability and all-wheel drive capability.

The question is, of course, whether the Vigus’ low price brings with it an unacceptable number of compromises.

We think not. For one thing, it is a handsome vehicle, with its slant-eyed frontal area setting it part from any other local one-tonner.

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It is a large bakkie – 5.325 m long, 1.815 m high and 1.570 m wide, with wheelbase of 3.085 m.

That gives it a turning circle of 6.7 metres, which makes it rather cumbersome to manoeuvre in tight spaces.

But, it does boast reverse radar.

This thankfully saved me from reversing the bakkie into an expensive race car in the Zwartkops Raceway paddock – an event that might have strained my current friendly relationship with its owner.

He holds his race car in high regard, and me thumping it with a commercial vehicle would have realised his worst apprehensions about motoring writers.

I digress – back to the Vigus. Its four-cylinder, naturally aspirated 2.4-litre diesel engine produces 90 kW of power at around 4 000 rpm and 290 Nm of torque between 1 500 rpm and 2 600 rpm.

It weighs in at 2 790 kg. None of which makes the Vigus a high performance vehicle, but its acceleration was more than adequate for normal Gauteng traffic conditions, while it would effortlessly cruise in top gear at 120 km/h with 2 300 rpm on the clock.

The torque makes it special – it starts coming into effect from just over 1 200 rpm and increases seamlessly, to give the Vigus proper overtaking grunt in the top three gears.

The five-speed manual gearbox worked smoothly, with the cogs easily falling into place, going up or down.

We did not find the need to engage the all-wheel drive system, but it works electronically, with a console-mounted switch allowing one the choices of 2H, 4H and 4L.

We figure that most Vigus owners would find few circumstances that actually demand the vehicle to clamber up slippery or rocky inclines.

However, the vehicle does everything else competently, and the all-wheel drive system should be no different.

Brakes are discs front and drums rear, with ABS and EBD, all of which worked just fine to arrest
the rather heavy vehicle’s speed when needed.

The load bay is huge and rubber-coated, with a roll bar plus robust grappling hooks on the side.

The whole package sits on 16- inch aluminium alloy wheels in 265/70R16 rubber, with large sidesteps next to the cabin adding to the looks.

The interior does not boast a computer, Bluetooth or a GPS navigational system.

But it does have two comfortable, cloth covered seats with four-directional adjustment, a radio, a MP3 system with USB playback ability, a CD player, power windows, an air conditioner and airbags for both occupants.

Vigus say it will seat three, but that is not the case.

Taking two friends from Alberton to Zwartkops we tried it, but the two friends decided they never intended to get that close, and one ended in the load bay.

We never tried to drive the bakkie economically, and it returned a surprisingly good overall diesel consumption of 8.2l/100km.

We think the Vigus is a sensible alternative to other, more expensive local bakkies.

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