Road Test: Foton Tunland 2.8 ISF Luxury

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A bakkie is a bakkie is a bakkie…or is it?  Foton have decided it’s time to take on the big boys in the bakkie world, and brought us the latest Foton Tunland double cab to test, so we could see just how close they are to competing with the rest of the pack.  We received the 4X2 2.8 ISF Luxury model, which retails for R289 950, nearly 60 grand less than the closest similarly specced competitor.  But how does it stack up?

 

Well the 4X2 2.8 ISF Luxury that we had came standard with leather seats, park distance control, loadbox rollbar, tonneau cover and side steps, over and above the standard aircon, MP3/USB audio system, electric windows and mirrors, dual airbags and ABS.   Decently specced, but this is where the flaws began.  The leather was cheap and squeaky, and the park distance control only engaged sometimes, when it felt like it.  The electric windows also offered intermittent problems, where the drivers window sometimes operated on a one touch open/close basis, but most times not.  The audio system was decent though, except for the odd (pronounced “clearly Chinese”) volume settings which went to a maximum of 31.

 

The remainder of the interior followed suit, typically Chinese, by way of odd dimensions and design; tacky fake gloss wood inserts were all around the cabin (classy – not) and the rather poor build quality and use of cheap plastics made it feel less than R290 000.  Plus it was rather far from being ergonomically designed, with a poorly shaped dash and odd positioning of the USB and AUX inputs (the Tunland comes standard with USB and AUX cables though – 5 points to Foton).  The back seats did however offer plenty of space and legroom, something which many competitors lack in relation.

 

The oddities continued throughout my test period, and whilst driving, I noticed something strange about the visibility.  Whilst it was great ahead of the car, the tiny rear windscreen offered little to no visibility, especially when trying to reverse.  The windscreen itself was not only tiny, but concave, and in such a manner that when driving at night, I could look in my rear-view mirror and get a clean double reflection of the radio and rev counter, and see nothing of the road behind me.

 

The drive was rather average, gearshifts were agricultural and a little rough, and it was often hard to find the gate for the right gear.  Reverse also failed to engage several times, and I had to fight the lever into place before I could get out of the parking bay.  The steering offered lots of play around the centre, and was rather floppy at times, which wasn’t great considering the sheer size of the Tunland, and the slightly “wallowy” (pronounced “boat-like”) suspension.  This was more of an issue when I took the Foton Tunland along some dirt roads where the ride was rather bouncy and uncomfortable, with numerous rattles and creaks that emanated from all around the cabin.  Not to mention the fact that the word “ergonomics” must’ve been scrapped from the Chinese dictionary in the Tunland’s development; the seats were horribly uncomfortable for anything more than a 20km journey.

 

There was one reprieve though, one that endeared me to the Foton Tunland somewhat.  The new engine that comes standard across the range is a Cummins ISF 2.8-litre turbo-diesel, an American lump that was quite brilliant, albeit very rural.  Most diesel engines, such as that of the Isuzu KB we tested recently, quiet down after warming up – the Cummins was noisy all the time, but the 120kW and 360Nm on offer was exceptional and was available pretty much whenever I wanted it.  The pull was strong with minimal lag, the power transfer from low end to high end was smooth and constant, and the overall feel was one I quite enjoyed.  It returned decent consumption figures too, with 7.6l/100km on a combined cycle.

 

The Tunland is rough and not as well refined as Foton would like us to believe, and although it is a massive leap forward from their previous attempts, and their build quality has drastically improved, the best part of the Tunland is the American sourced engine.  If the Tunland were R50k cheaper, and with a better service plan than 2 years/40 000km, I would say you’re getting more than your money’s worth, but at this price, it’s nowhere near ready to compete with the big boys, and quite frankly your money would be better spent on a second-hand bakkie of reputable stature.  As my father used to say – close, but no cigar.

 

 

The Stats:

 

Engine Capacity:

2780cc

No. of Cylinders:

4

Max. Power:

120kW @ 3600RPM

Max. Torque:

360Nm @ 1800-3000RPM

Gearbox:

5-Speed Manual

Towing Capacity:

2500Kg

Approach & Departure Angle:

28° & 23°

Dry Weight:

1910Kg

Fuel Tank Capacity:

75 litres

Fuel Consumption (Regular driving, combined cycle):

7.6l/100km

Drivetrain

Rear Wheel Drive

Price (as tested):

R289 950,00

 

 

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Author: Roger Biermann

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