Highly competitive workhorse

I love a good commercial vehicle. No, really I do. Having worked in the film industry for a few years, even to the point where obtaining my code 10 truck licence seemed like a necessary adjunct to furthering my career, I spent hundreds of sweaty hours piggybacking heavy film equipment to and from Cape Town’s rarefied film locations.

A call time of 6am for “the talent” meant I had to be on set at 5am, which meant I had to collect all the gear at 4am.
You want utter dependability from a commercial vehicle that early in the blurry-eyed morning, trust me. And after one shot of the actress sampling her low-fat yogurt on a desolate beach, as the sun came up, we’d have to pack up everything again and move location hundreds of kilometres away to a paddock, in Ceres, just to get a shot of a horse hoofing through some hay.

I already have fond, “those were the days” recollections of that time even though most of it was spent on the flat bench seat of an un-air-conditioned commercial vehicle. I miss that sense of really having suffered for your day’s wages. Sunburnt, exhausted, with a cigarette out the window, beer in hand if it weren’t illegal, you couldn’t help but cast your eye over the traffic on your way home, knowing you’d worked harder than everyone else out there today. You know that peculiar look the guy in the one-ton pick-up truck gives you in your air-conditioned Benz, on your commute home? That’s actually an “I’m-better-than-you” smirk.

This is perhaps all a little irrelevant, I’ll admit, because when it comes to the Daihatsu Gran Max pick-up, it’s unlikely the owners will ever have the experience of driving them. Like the Hyundai H100 or the Kia K2700, the Gran Max is a full one-ton, workhorse of a commercial vehicle.

For business owners out there, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The Gran Max has a 1 055kg total payload. Its load bay is 2,4m long by 1,6m wide, which is 80% of the total wheel-base and affords a 37 square metres total load area—enough for a queen-size bed, I’m told. Cargo handling is improved by drop sides, which are lowered for convenient loading and unloading access.

The Daihatsu Gran Max is powered by a 1,5-litre, 77kW and 140Nm petrol motor that sends power to the rear wheels. Daihatsu claims an economy return of “as good as 7,5-litres/100km”, but this will obviously vary depending on how laden the load bay is. And the turning circle of 9,4m, kerb to kerb, makes it relatively nimble in tight situations. And all this no frills, no fuss load-carrying capability can be yours for the highly competitive price of R119 995. Not as cheap as some of its Chinese comrades, sure, but a veritable bargain when compared to the Kia K2700 at R152 900 and the Hyundai H100 at R146 900. It is also the only one mentioned to have ABS brakes.

Both the Kia and Hyundai competitors come with bigger displacement diesel engines, however, and although neither makes as much power as the new Daihatsu, they do deliver more torque than the Gran Max, meaning they don’t need to work quite so hard to get their load delivered on time.

That said, the saving the Daihatsu Gran Max offers over the sticker price of the other two competitors is significant and the servicing of its petrol engine, as opposed to diesel turbos and injectors, should stand you in good stead in the long run. The Gran Max has a three-year/100 000km warranty, but a service plan is not included.

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