Africa’s best 4x4

2013-04-27 00:00

PAY no attention to what the okes at the ski-boat club try to tune you about 4x4 bakkies.

Up until Thursday this week, Africa had only two really unstoppable 4x4 vehicles — the Land Cruiser and the Unimog.

Now there is a third 4x4 that slots in between the Cruiser and mighty ’mog, but which can kick dust on to both these vehicles’ headlights, as well as mud or rocks. It is called the Daily 4x4 and is built by the Fiat Group’s truck subsidiary, Iveco, Europe's third-biggest seller of heavy commercial vehicles.

The MD of Iveco SA, Bob Lowden, said all the company’s expertise in building a complete range of trucks went into their latest light commercial vehicle.

It offered the best-priced combination of crew-seating, payload and off-road performance especially for mining contractors who have to obey the stringent vehicle safety standards in open- pit mines and plantations, Lowden said.

The Daily cab seats a crew of six, carries just shy of 1,5 tons on the bin and pulls a 3,5 ton braked trailer.

This is the vehicle for people who need to get a crew to work in in the rough and then take the them home on a tar road.

Impressive as these payloads are, the Daily 4X4’s real strength is a powerful, yet frugal twin-turbo 3,0-litre engine that permanently drives all four wheels through a six-speed transmission with two reduction gears.

The 16 valve, 170 HP common rail EEV diesel engine is mapped to generate its power at low revolutions, with 400 Nm generated between 1 250 and 3 000 rpm.

It can maintain this power delivery at a work rate of 125 kW between 3 000 and 3 500 rpm, ensuring superb driving comfort and reduced fuel consumption.

Like the Unimog, the Daily 4x4 comes with differential locks on both axles and the transfer case, all of which are controlled from the dashboard.

With just the transfer casing locked to ensure that both axles turn in unison, I hitched first and idled up a rocky, 30-degree slope as if it where a level tar road.

Depending in which of the 24 gear ratios you are, the Daily 4x4 can cruise at 110 km/h, or crawl at less than 1 km/h.

Iveco sold the first 40 Daily 4x4 units sight unseen off the ship before the buyers even knew what they would pay for the crew cab or single cab.

Luckily for the buyers, Lowden kept prices for the Iveco Daily 4x4 aggressively competitive with the aim of doubling the company’s sales this year.

Compared to its main rivals, it costs about a third of a Unimog and about a grand more than the 79 series of Land Cruisers.

Prices

Single cab chassis: R555 000

Crew cab chassis: R575 000

• Read The Witness business next week on Iveco’s plans for KwaZulu-Natal dealerships.

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