Should YOU buy this bakkie?

Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of buying a cheap product – for good reason – and the JMC Vigus is cheap. So, should you put it on your shopping list? CHARLEEN CLARKE weighs up the pros and cons.

I have lots of posh mates. Unlike yours truly, they never buy anything cheap. “Goedkoop is duurkoop,” one of my Afrikaans mates tells me regularly. Just in case you don’t praat die taal (speak the language), that literally means “cheap buying is expensive buying”.

I also have a German mate who always warns me that I will be “buying twice” when I buy cheap (because you end up replacing the cheap item). To be frank, whenever they’re lecturing me, I nod sweetly, smile … and then hoof it off to grab a bargain…

I’m selective about my bargain-basement purchases though. I’ve never bought a vehicle because it’s cheap. In fact, I often warn friends, family members and readers against doing exactly that.

Then I got the JMC Vigus on test. It’s cheap. In fact, the cheapest Vigus in the range (a single cab 4×2) costs a mere R201 880, while the bottom-of-the-range Toyota Hilux will set you back R259 600.

Is the Vigus both cheap AND nasty? I really don’t think so. In fact, I was mighty surprised by our test vehicle (the single cab with a diesel engine, so-called “luxury” specification and four-wheel drive; it costs R299 990). Here are the reasons why…

First of all, it is a nice-looking bakkie. Yes, we all know that looks aren’t massively important with a workhorse, but I don’t like to drive something ugly. And that’s certainly not the case with the Vigus; the exterior designers at Jiangling Motors (which produces the vehicle in China) did a good job.

The same can be said of the interior designer’s skills; the cabin is a pleasant place to be. The seats are surprisingly comfortable, the build quality is good (no shakes or rattles), the instrumentation was clear and all controls were easy to reach.

Around town, the 2.4-litre common-rail turbodiesel engine (which delivers 88 kW of power and 290 Nm of torque) does an adequate job. It is matched to a five-speed manual transmission.

Out on the highway, I had to work those gears quite hard to keep the vehicle at 120 km/h – and that was without a load… Top speed is a claimed 160 km/h (I never got there) and fuel consumption is claimed to be 8 l/100 km (I got closer to 10,5).

A 2,4-litre MPi petrol engine is also up for grabs. It delivers 95 kW of power, 201 Nm of torque and claimed fuel consumption of 10,2 l/100 km.

So, should you look at buying one? Well, the JMC team reckon that it offers a lot. “The word, ‘Vigus’, is derived from vigour, which embraces vitality, strength and the ability to endure … so it’s the perfect name for a light commercial vehicle that boasts these properties,” the promotional material proclaims.

I cannot comment on its durability; that would be utterly impossible in the space of a week. It does seem fairly robust though.

My only concern is the fact that the single cab doesn’t come with a service plan (a five-year/60 000 km plan is exclusive to double-cab models). A service plan on the single cab would be terrific for peace of mind … still, at R201 880, I think it could be a chance worth taking…

Published by

Charleen Clarke

CHARLEEN CLARKE is editorial director of FOCUS. While she is based in Johannesburg, she spends a considerable amount of time overseas, attending international transport events – largely in her capacity as associate member of the International Truck of the Year Jury.
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  1. Ive been driving the Vigus for more than a year now.. To be honest at first I was very sceptical being a Mazda B series believer for years. But I must say the vigus surprised me in all aspects of being a luxury bakkie and a workhorse, trust me I’m in the granite business and both the JMC carrying 2.8 diesel truck and the Vigus bakkie is worth your money

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