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Fit to goThe Daihatsu Gran Max is claimed to be a value for money one-tonner. Fact or fallacy? VIC OLIVER puts it through its paces to test this claim...

To find out whether the Daihatsu Gran Max lives up the manufacturer’s claims, FOCUS took the vehicle on a 246 km unladen road test. The test route was from Boksburg to Witbank and was conducted on a cold and windy day with a strong headwind on the outward-bound run and a good tailwind on the return journey. Although the vehicle is comfortable cruising at the national speed limit the road test was limited to 80 km/h.

The fuel consumption obtained on the FOCUS road test was 6.65 l/100 km which was impressive and proved that the Daihatsu Gran Max’s advertised unladen fuel consumption of 7.5 l/100 km for the vehicle is no idle boast.

Considering the very competitive price of the vehicle it is nonetheless equipped with many safety and functional features that make the Gran Max a good value for money vehicle. Safety features include crumple zone, collapsible steering column plus driver and passenger airbags (hi-spec), giving the driver and passenger optimum protection. The vehicle is also equipped with ABS.

All the driver-controls are extremely driver-friendly and very easy to use. The dash-mounted gear lever is well positioned and makes gear selection very easy. The driver and passenger seat are functional but not very comfortable for long distance driving. There is a centre seat between the driver and passenger seat for a second passenger, but the centre seat spacing is small and, in my opinion, unsuitable for a second passenger on a long trip. To add to driver and passenger comfort an air conditioner is available as an optional extra.

On the road
The vehicle performs well thanks to the lively 1.5 litre four cylinder petrol engine, which develops 71 kW at 6 000 r/min. The maximum torque output is 134 Nm at 4 400 r/min. Due to the flat torque curve 90% of the torque is available at 2 000 r/min, which improves performance at low speeds and on initial start.

Fit to goThe engine is also equipped with dynamic variable speed valve timing, enhancing timing of the engine to improve engine performance. Another engine feature I like is the chain-driven timing belt, which adds durability to the engine and reduces maintenance costs.

Noise levels inside the cab while travelling are acceptable considering the forward control design. Road holding is good and the brakes are excellent. The power steering and small turning circle make the vehicle very easy to manoeuvre in small spaces. The driver’s view is good due to the large windscreen.

Clutch and gear change mechanisms work well and are very easy to use. Driver abuse of the clutch is avoided thanks to a protection mechanism, which allows the clutch to engage evenly, even when the driver suddenly and harshly drops the clutch. This is another factor that will reduce maintenance costs.

The dashboard is only equipped with a speedometer, an engine temperature gauge and a small bar type fuel gauge. However the vehicle has a full complement of warning lights, which would light up should a problem occur with any major or safety critical component.

The vehicle is fitted with a large 3.25 metre long dropside body with a low loading height of 72 cm and can carry a full one-ton payload.

Daily pre-trip checks are quickly and easily done by opening the front inspection lid and lifting the passenger and driver’s seats.

In summary the Daihatsu Gran Max is reliable, easy to maintain, fuel-efficient and can carry a one-ton payload effortlessly. It’s an excellent, light commercial vehicle. And yes it does offer terrific value for money.

Truck test: Gran Max


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