Words and image by Andrew Middleton
Why would someone decide to buy a Chinese bakkie? Would it be for reliability? Performance? Sex appeal…?
None of the above. A Chinese bakkie is bought for the sole reason that it’s cheap. Although models from the east are indeed improving at a steady rate, the value proposition is still a deciding factor in the purchase of a Chinese product; and, at R355 990, the Vigus is fast approaching mainstream prices. We pitted JMC’s best offering against a R391 900 Ford Ranger XL-Plus for a war on home turf.
Best known for copying old Isuzu frames and filling them with basic Mitsubishi engines, the Chinese manufacturers have, on the whole, taken plenty of rap recently− despite steadily improving their products on all fronts. The hordes of rats and mice Chinese manufacturers that were initially imported to SA have settled to three strong contenders in the light commercial sector – GWM, Foton, and, more recently, JMC.
The initial Chinese offerings suffered build-quality and reliability issues, and were sent packing after scolding media and customer reviews. The JMC Vigus we have here has been on sale for about a year, and has (so far) sold just fewer than 300 units through JMC’s network of 23 dealers nationwide. Small fry, compared to a tally of almost 30 000 Ford Rangers and over 37 000 Toyota Hiluxes in 2014.