DRIVEN | Peugeot Landtrek debuts in SA, but does this French bakkie stand a chance?

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• Peugeot's new Landtrek double cab bakkie has debuted in South Africa.

• A 110kW 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine powers the two-model range.

• The Landtrek Allure 4x2 is priced from R579 900.

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Peugeot has written the latest chapter in its 210-year history with the new Landtrek bakkie. Building on years of experience garnered from models like 202, 403, 404, and 504 Pick-Up, the Landtrek looks to get a slice of the South African bakkie pie and stake its claim as a first-choice alternative to the likes of the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux.

Peugeot notes that Landtrek sales outside of Europe will account for about 90% of global sales, with South Africa as a key market for the bakkie's success. Imported from China, where Peugeot says it is built to their specifications and requirements, the Landtrek will have to show its metal and win brand-loyal South Africans over to rate our market as a ''key'' one.

We drove the bakkie on its South African launch in Gauteng and North West, and came away impressed with what Peugeot offers. But is it all good, all the time?

Peugeot Landtrek
2022 Peugeot Landtrek

The Landtrek line-up

According to data provided by the French automaker, most local bakkie buyers gravitate towards automatic double cab models with an engine capacity of 2.4-litres or smaller. These buyers also seem content with a power output of between 100kW and 120kW.

Peugeot says this data prompted them to look at how and where they can position the Landtrek, which is why they opted for a 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine with 110kW on offer. The torque is rated at 350Nm. For now, Peugeot will introduce a two-model line-up to the South African market, comprising a 4x2 and 4x4. A six-speed automatic gearbox is the only transmission available.

The Landtrek Allure double cab automatic 4x2 will retail for R579 900, while the 4Action double automatic 4x4 goes for R669 900. Both models are sold with Peugeot Pride, comprising a five-year or 100 000km warranty and service plan, and more. Buyers can upgrade to a maintenance plan.

Peugeot Landtrek
2022 Peugeot Landtrek

Comprehensive features

Peugeot has not skimped on the features available on the Landtrek and has gone to great lengths to ensure that it runs with the best the segment has to offer. Although the Allure is the entry to the range, it boasts a significant features list that will make almost any bakkie manufacturer reevaluate their own products.

For starters, the exterior features 17-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors that also fold in, LED headlights, roof bars, and an LED light in the load bin. Inside, the seats are decked in partial leather and cloth, a cooling function for the glovebox, dual-zone climate control, six cupholders, seven airbags, all-round electric windows, and a rear seat backrest that can fold in a 60/40 configuration. Other features include voice control, automatic lights and wipers, and keyless entry and start.

Peugeot Landtrek
The 2022 Peugeot Landtrek's LED load bin lights are found on the sports bar.

Peugeot is also quite proud that the bakkie's 10-inch HD touchscreen infotainment system relays everything and more in clear picture - which it does. The infotainment system is also Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible.

The Landtrek 4Action builds on the Allure'sAllure's specification offering with 18-inch alloy wheels, side steps, electrically adjusted front seats, full leather trim, onboard navigation, a 30-degree camera system, lane departure warning and monitoring, a 4x4 low range transfer case, and a rear diff-lock.

The impressive features are somewhat let down by the ample use of plastic throughout the cabin. Perceived quality is very good, but tapping on the panels generates a sound you would not associate with a vehicle starting life at almost R600 000. The use of soft-touch materials is sparse, and would it have increased the bakkie's perception as a value-orientated offering to use more of it. Overall, the Landtrek's interior is a welcome space with ample room for front and rear passengers.

Peugeot Landtrek
2022 Peugeot Landtrek

Driving the new Landtrek

Off the bat, the Landtrek Allure 4x2 will most likely be the bakkie of choice between it and the 4Action 4x4. The Allure's ride quality is very compliant and comfortable, whereas the 4x4 has been set up to contend with arduous conditions - be it on- or off-road. The steering-feel on both derivatives is on the light side, which is both good and bad, depending on the conditions at that moment.

A rather frustrating aspect of the engine is the turbo lag. The torque is only available between 1 800 - 2 600rpm, with almost nothing happening at pull-away from a standstill. The engine builds up to 1 800rpm almost too leisurely, only to ''wake up'' when in the narrow torque band.

Of course, this is minimised when undertaking 4x4 duties where slow and steady comes into play. Here, the Landtrek 4Action impressed with its abilities to wade through water (600mm wading depth), the 235mm ground clearance, and approach (30-degrees) and departure (26-degrees) angles. Drivers can toggle between 2H, 4H and 4L using the rotary knob next to the gear lever, making traversing through the rough stuff an absolute breeze.

Driving aids on the Landtrek 4Action include hill-start assist (automatically activated) and hill descent control.

Peugeot Landtrek
2022 Peugeot Landtrek

In summary

Peugeot returned to the local market a few years ago and has been on a roll. So impressive was the ''second coming'' that one of its models, the 2008, won the 2021 South Africa Car of the Year award. And the global microchip shortage that is hampering vehicle production aside, Peugeot South Africa can't keep up with demand. It's a nice challenge to have, especially for a brand that is gradually winning customers over.

The Landtrek, it seems, will have its work cut out if it wants to enjoy similar success as the 2008. Its standard features are impressive, but that can only take you so far when the price is brought into the equation. And listening to the mumblings by industry experts and reading the public's opinion on social media, one of the bakkie's biggest challenges is its price. Their concerns are valid, because the Landtrek Allure 4x2 (R579 900) is more expensive than the Hilux 2.4 GD-6 4x4 Raider automatic (R565 300). The Hilux 2.4 GD-6 4x2 Raider automatic is even more affordable at R546 300.

For Peugeot South Africa, they need to hit the Landtrek's marketing out of the park if their bakkie will succeed in this highly contested segment. And though the French automaker is looking to expand the Landtrek line-up in future, the brand must act now, as best they can, to lay a strong enough foundation for the Landtrek to enjoy a long future in the local market.

Peugeot Landtrek
2022 Peugeot Landtrek
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