Changan minivan review: Budget beater

With a price tag of around R160 000 the Changan minivan costs about the same as Nissan’s NP200 single cab half tonner

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With a price tag of around R160 000 the Changan minivan costs about the same as Nissan’s NP200 single cab half tonner, as the Chinese brand attempts to make inroads into the entry level of light commercial vehicles in South Africa (SA)
The cabin is reasonably roomy and will take four adults (five at a squeeze), but this is a pure workhorse. The rear seats are there so that workers can sit inside, with a metal divider between the back seats and the load area, which would be good for a security van.

The steering is not powered so it takes a fair amount of muscle to turn it sharply. The 1.3 litre engine is a little noisy but provides plenty of power, at an economical rate of 8l per 100 km in a real world scenario.

Ground clearance is really good at 155 mm, and you get the SUV feeling of driving above the traffic. The radio is one of the best parts of the interior, and reminds me of a simpler time. On most expensive cars it takes ages to figure out the radio, but the minivan has FM, AM and Aux, which is all you really need.

There are very few electrics to go wrong, and the windows are windup, with less moving parts. In terms of resale and aftersales the jury is still out given the companies' relatively short period of trading in SA. But we need to give these vehicles the benefit of the doubt, much like Japanese vehicles that were initially seen as inferior to those from England in the 1970s, only to dominate the market in later years.

Changan is one of the big four Chinese automakers and launched its vehicles in SA in 2007, but the first local importer went belly-up, leaving Jiangling Motors Corporation (JMC) to take over the local distribution in 2013.

As a workhorse there’s little to complain about. You can use the Changan to haul things around, and I was impressed with the large amount it could carry in its one-ton load bay.

Gregory Simpson

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