JMC South Africa recently launched what GAVIN MYERS reckons could now be the best range of mini trucks and vans available in South Africa
It’s amazing how easily a brand can be tarnished. When JMCSA took over the distribution of Chana in South Africa with the launch of the second-generation Star during 2013, a conscious decision was taken to revert back to the original Changan name, due to the poor reputation caused by the mishaps of the previous importer.
Even with a history stretching back 154 years (33 of which have been spent building vehicles), representation in 60 countries, and eight global research and development centres, JMCSA knew it had its work cut out for it with the reintroduction of the Changan brand.
Clearly it’s been on the right path as the all-new, third-generation Star has now been launched – and following our first sampling it seems to be a very well-rounded product.
The range is comprised of eight one-tonne models: two two-seat, single-cab bakkie models; two five-seat, double-cab bakkie models; two two-seat mini vans; and two five-seat mini vans. It’s worth noting that, irrespective of which model is chosen, the payload capability does not drop below one tonne, while gross vehicle mass is rated at 2 400 kg and gross combination mass at 3 400 kg.
The new ladder-frame chassis features nine cross beams to increase strength.
The two-seat, single-cab bakkie has a load bay length of 2 750 m (which Changan claims is the biggest in its
class), and the five-seat, double-cab model a load bay of 2 060 mm in length. Both have a width of 1 520 mm and height of 370 mm.
Opting for the van (with either two or five seats) provides a load volume of up to 1 640 litres. The mini vans feature a raising tailgate and sliding doors on both sides, while the bakkies are easily loadable due to a three-way drop-side bin.
JMCSA will consider introducing more van models, including a six-seat minibus, if there is demand.
All models are powered by a 1,3-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, which produces 72 kW and 119 Nm torque, and a five-speed manual gearbox. JMC claims fuel consumption figures as low as 6,5 l/100 km.
Despite this diminutive powerplant, the Star 3 gathers pace easily and driving any of the models is exceptionally easy. Thanks to the larger, redesigned, more practical cabin, occupant space and comfort are good. However, it’ll be interesting to see how the Star 3 gets on when we have it on test and can load it up.
The Star 3 comes reasonably equipped, though for mod-cons one would need to look at the Lux models – which add air-conditioning, fog lights, central locking, electric windows and extra speakers for the aux-equipped radio.
Keenly priced between R139 990 and R164 990, all Changan Star 3 models carry a three-year/100 000 km warranty and 24-hour roadside assistance. With 20 dealers around the country, small-business owners should appreciate this back-up offering just as much as they should be impressed by the new generation Star as JMCSA continues to build the brand.