Daihatsu South Africa has begun playing in a league it previously did not partake in. I’m talking about the bakkie (pickup) league which the new Gran Max plans to revolutionise. Measuring 4.2 metres long, 1.7m wide and 1.8m high the utility cannot be described. But it’s also not as large as higher-end bakkies in the market. Where its scores points is in the utility part.
The load box is 36cm deep which is enough to hold some narrow boxes and other goods. Loading and unloading is exceptionally practical thanks to the 3-way drop bay. It’s also only about 70cm off the ground which allows even shorter people good access to the bay.
The Gran Max is pushed forward by a 1.5-litre petrol engine producing 77kW and 134Nm of torque. It’s said to be economical (averaging 7.5 litres/100km unloaded) and highly reliable thanks to its Japanese manufacturing. Taking it around a short route I felt no excitement at all, especially with air conditioning being absent from the cabin. Daihatsu’s research apparently shows that cooled interiors make for slower drivers since they end up enjoying the drive rather than going as fast as possible to get to their destinations. The cabin felt comfortable if somewhat a little rigid. Standard transmission is a 5-speed manual. I love the fact that the gearlever is positioned mid-dashboard and makes changing gears pleasant.
Underpinnings include McPherson struts with coil springs at the front and 5 ply leaf springs at the rear. Having tried several times to get the vehicle out of shape during our drive we eventually gave up, comforted by the fact that it’s quite stable under duress. Small businesses will be happy to know that for emergency stops there is ABS with brake boost.
To demonstrate its claim that the Gran Max can carry a tonne Daihatsu loaded different cars with a variety of goods including vegetables and cement, and invited media to test it for themselves. Not many took up the challenge which to me is a vote of confidence in the car. Either that or the journalists were just not up to taking the risk.
Daihatsu will be looking to its 58 countrywide dealers to push the Gran Max, especially since it’s so well-priced against vehicles with less capability.
Daihatsu Gran Max Pricing
Gran Max – (R119 995)