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Age: 40
Budget: R100 000
Status: Owner of a small gardening business
Vehicle type: Single-cab bakkie

Requirements

Our buyer needs a work vehicle to use for their gardening business and general carting chores. It does not have to have a high spec, but should not be too old or battered. Two seats are fine, as they own a family vehicle.

The vehicle

With only one three-quarter-tonne bakkie left in our market (the Nissan NP200; the Chevrolet Utility recently left SA but parts will be available for years), we added a stalwart in the bigger and tougher Nissan NP300.

Our choice: Nissan NP300 2,0i

0 to 100 km/h: 14,0 seconds
Top speed: 151 km/h
Power: 84 kW
Torque: 169 N.m
CO2: 237 g/km
CAR fuel index: 12,0 L/100 km


The Hardbody has been around for ages, but still provides business owners with transport to keep our economy going. It is a lot stronger than the smaller bakkies and, while less economical, should rack up high mileages without trouble. With a mass of just less than 1 400 kg, the NP300 2,0 can carry a respectable payload of over 1 300 kg. Ground clearance is a decent 180 mm and the vehicle is fitted with 14-inch wheels and 15 inches on the higher-spec models. The 2,0-litre is thirsty, with a fuel consumption of around 12,0 L/100 km. If you need to drive longer distances, consider the 2,5-litre turbodiesel that is measurably more economical. If you need more power, meanwhile, there is also a 2,4-litre petrol with 105 kW.

By modern standards, the interior is dated, so don’t expect lots of cupholders, and get used to slide controls for the heating and ventilation. The seating capacity is listed as two, but there is a lapbelt for an occasional third occupant. Seat material is washable PVC, although it’s easy and cheap to fit a seat covering of your choice. Higher-specced derivatives will have ABS and air-conditioning. The NP300 comes with a six-year /150 000 km warranty so, if the servicing has been kept to the book and you can find one that is younger than six years, you may still be covered for a while.

Space: 2/3 seats, 1 359 kg payload
Safety and aids:  ABS (on some models)
Cost of tyres: R4 050
Road test: none

Option 2: Chevrolet Utility 1,4 Sport

0 to 100 km/h: 14,5 seconds
Top speed: n/a
Power: 68 kW
Torque: 120 N.m
CO2: 171 g/km
CAR fuel index: 8,64 L/100 km


The Chevrolet bowtie took over from the Opel badge for this model eons ago, with the Corsa Utility replaced by this redesigned Chevrolet Utility. Styling is not to everyone’s taste but, then again, it does have a distinctive Chevrolet appearance. The interior design is quite sporty, but the audio system fitted to Club and Sport models looks a bit like a slot-in, aftermarket addition. At least there is a USB port. We are looking at the 1,4-litre model with 68 kW, but there is also a 1,8-litre with an output of 77 kW; both are straightforward s-o-h-c mills with eight valves. More significant is the increased torque from 120 to 161 N.m that is useful if you carry heavy loads.

Our March 2012 road test returned a fuel index of 8,64 L/100 km, which should mean it is good for a tank range of about 650 km. In that test, we noted the gearshift action is vague and, even with hydraulically assisted power steering, directional stability at speed was found wanting. Along with a rubberised step below the tailgate, on both flanks there is a useful step to assist climbing into the load bay. Seating comfort is excellent and there is a lot of space behind the seats to stow items. Note that only the Sport model has ABS, although all feature dual airbags.

Space: 2 seats, 763 kg payload
Safety and aids:  2 airbags, ABS (on some)
Cost of tyres: R4 416
Road test: March 2012

Option 3: Nissan NP200 1,6

0 to 100 km/h: 13,37 seconds
Top speed: 169 km/h
Power: 77 kW
Torque: 148 N.m
CO2: 168 g/km
CAR fuel index: 8,52 L/100 km


Here’s another three-quarter-tonne bakkie that is popular with both business owners and youngsters looking for a versatile leisure vehicle. The NP200 took over from the much-loved Nissan Champ which, of course, was a development of the legendary Datsun bakkie. The 1200 pick-up was introduced in 1971 and, even before that, we had the Datsun Sunny 1000. The NP200 was launched in 2008 and offered much more space and load ability than the cramped Champ. While it is nowhere near as practical as its bigger brother, the NP200’s payload is impressive.  The base model uses an eight-valve 1,6-litre that puts out 64 kW. There is also a 16 V good for 77 kW, which we tested in 2009. Apart from the 800 kg payload, this vehicle offers a generous 210 mm of ground clearance.

The steering is hydraulically assisted and offers good feel. A curious quirk is the windscreen wipers that sweep to the left, so the driver faces an unswept sector that limits visibility. Note that the base models do not have ABS or airbags, but the safety level increases to a single airbag (or dual airbags) plus anti-lock braking in higher-specced derivatives. Standard on most models is an aftermarket Blaupunkt radio/CD audio system.

Space: 2 seats, 800 kg payload
Safety and aids:  max. 2 airbags, ABS (on some)
Cost of tyres: R3 276
Road test: July 2009

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