Following the 4x4 versions of the Tunland Double Cab, Foton SA has now launched the much more affordable 4x2 models. As is the case with the 4x4 models, the Tunland 4x2's styling is neat enough for a bakkie both inside and out with lots of chrome up front and some wood-effect strips on the facia and doors. Interior space is good but there is no room in the driver's footwell to rest your left foot. Neat instrumentation includes  a central display showing fuel consumption and range.

Although the torque curve shows that the peak torque is reached at (a high for a turbodiesel) 3 600 r/min, some 94 per cent of the maximum 360 N.m is available at 1 800 r/min. Still, the only noticeable negative of this capable 2,8-litre Cummins engine is the old bugbear of turbo-lag. It does take a few seconds to wind up and pressurise, but thereafter it pulls strongly. The diesel noise is not too distracting and the engine is smooth enough. Most overtaking can be achieved by merely dropping from fifth (top) gear to fourth and the 120 kW on offer is enough for most uses, including towing. At this price the power output is way above any competitor with most rivals (except the GWM Steed) costing around R100 000 more. The five-speed gearbox feels solid, a bit heavy, but with a positive, mechanical feel to the shift action. If you rush it you can beat the synchromesh, but being a Getrag design it probably needs some miles under its belt in order to bed in and loosen up. The rear axle comes from Dana and incorporates a limited-slip differential. Bosch and Continental parts are also represented under the bonnet.

Fuel consumption is claimed to be 8,3 L/100 km on the combined cycle and the emissions meet Euro 4 standards.  For those in rural areas, the engine can cope with 500 ppm diesel fuel although the low sulphur 50 ppm is recommended.

A cruising speed of 120 km/h shows around 2 200 r/min on the rev counter, making for relaxed cruising. I was impressed with the ride quality. The double wishbone front and leaf-sprung rear end seems set up for a good compromise between load-ability and unladen comfort. We hit a menacing pothole on the drive in Gauteng (as one often does) and the Tunland took it without a rattle or shake. In fact the ladder framed chassis was pleasantly devoid of the usual shimmying.  The hydraulically assisted ZF steering also had a textbook feel. If we were to nit-pick, the steering wheel does not feature audio controls, but the system is quite close to hand with well-proportioned buttons. A mini USB port is supplied with a removable cable to fit a full-size USB device.

The two models imported from China are the Comfort and the Luxury. The Comfort includes the usual luxuries; audio, air-con, electric windows and mirrors, centre armrest with storage, dual airbags and ABS with EBD. The Luxury adds leather seating, one touch driver’s window, four speakers instead of two, reverse sensors, a roll over bar in the load bay, side steps and a tonneau cover. Under the body we find the full size 16-inch alloy spare wheel. Colours available are a sensible line-up of white, black, silver, gold, green, blue and red. The 4x2 DC will soon be followed by single cab and extended cab models while a SUV version is in development but may be based on a larger platform than the Tunland.

Pricing:

Foton Tunland  DC 4x2 Comfort  R245 950

Foton Tunland DC 4x2 Luxury     R269 950

How long this pricing can be maintained is questionable, due to the falling rand value. Included is a three-year/100 000 km warranty, a two-year/40 000 km service plan and 10 000 km service intervals from the 35 countrywide dealers. The payload is 925 kg and maximum towing capacity is 2 500 kg.