Star of the minitruck show?

GAVIN MYERS spent a week with the Changan Star 3 Double Cab Lux and found that it is a mini truck with some weight.

If you’re currently in the market for a mini truck you have two basic choices: the 1,4-litre turbodiesel Tata Super Ace and the 1,3-litre petrol Changan Star.

The impressive one-tonne Tata has long been a FOCUS favourite (its previous rival, the Suzuki Super Carry, has since been discontinued in South Africa). But can the Star 3 unseat the Tata?

On paper, it certainly looks most promising. The double-cab model featured the Lux spec level; a cosmetically pleasing body-coloured front bumper, front fog lights, air-conditioning, remote central locking, electric front windows and a two-speaker radio with auxiliary input.

The Star 3 is certainly the most nicely appointed vehicle in its class. The cabin is neat while most materials are of a good quality. Space is good, too, both up front and, importantly, in the rear. The only complaint that rear-seat passengers might have is the lack of foot room, due to the intrusion of the cab-over engine compartment.

Handily, there is enough storage space below the rear bench for items such as bags or tools.

Of more importance is its load capability, and in this regard the Star 3 Double Cab offers the aforementioned full tonne payload, with a gross vehicle mass of 2 400 kg and a gross combination mass of 3 400 kg. Kerb weight is 1 160 kg.

What the Double Cab gains in passenger room it loses in load bay length, which measures in at 2 060 mm – 690 mm short of the single-cab model. The width of the load bay – which comes rubberised – measures 1 520 mm, the depth 370 mm.

Aiding loadability is the standard three-way drop side. Each individual side is easy to drop independent of the others and all fold down flat so as to avoid damage to the hinges.

The 1,3-litre petrol engine that powers the Star 3 range produces 72 kW and 119 Nm torque. As with most of the small-capacity engines fitted to vehicles in this class, the Changan’s engine gives the impression that it is perhaps a bit too weak for day-by-day full loads.

The short-ratio gearing helps to maintain progress, but a lower gear and flat foot are the standard for climbing hills when laden. Unladen the Star 3 scampers along nicely. The ride is none the worse for it, as Changan has engineered in perfectly acceptable levels of ride comfort.

There is minimal noise intrusion, though our particular test model did suffer vibration at higher speeds… This problem wasn’t apparent on any of the launch vehicles, nor a second vehicle supplied to FOCUS following this initial test. Changan was not able to confirm the source of the problem prior to publication.

Currently priced at R154 990, the Star 3 Double Cab has no direct rivals by virtue of having a double cab… Nonetheless, it represents great value for money; it seems to be well built and is decent to drive.

Our only concern remains the high-speed vibration, which was hopefully a malady of this particular unit. Offering some peace of mind, though, is the standard three-year/100 000 km warranty and 24-hour roadside assistance.

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.
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