Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Peugeot set to (re)conquer Africa

The battle of the bakkies has taken a surprising new turn with the arrival of the long-awaited Peugeot Landtrek. Mary Willemse drove it at the media launch in Gauteng and the North West towards the end of last year.

When we asked our online audience what they thought I would be driving at the Peugeot launch, the majority predicted a crossover or SUV. This was a fair call, considering it is three decades since the French automaker was represented in the local one-ton bakkie market.

In its heyday, Peugeot bakkies were rather popular across the African continent. Chatting to my fellow motoring scribes that evening on the roof of the tallest building in Africa, The Leonardo Hotel in midtown Sandton, almost everyone had an oom or oupa who drove an old Peugeot 403 or 404 on the farm. Not to mention the many that did reliable duty across the continent – enough to earn it the ‘Lion of Africa’ moniker. So, heritage the Peugeot has in spades.

Whether it will prove enough to change the mind of a Hilux or Ranger owner is another matter, though the French offering could well spice up the lower-volume end of the market, where the likes of Mazda, Mitsubishi and GWM compete for buyer attention. In the Middle East and Africa, the one-ton bakkie market accounts for 300 000 units annually. In South Africa, light commercial vehicles account for more than 25% of the total new-vehicle market, and Peugeot hopes to sell a modest 100 to 150 units per month locally – at least initially.

To meet both professional and leisure or family market needs, the newcomer is available as a diesel double-cab in 4×2 and 4×4 guise, with a workhorse heading our way early next year. Buyers can choose from two specification options: the 4×2 Allure or the top-spec 4Action 4×4. In the looks department, the Landtrek felt familiar, and we all debated on which platform it is based. Turns out Peugeot and Chinese manufacturer Changan have collaborated, which sees the Landtrek share a new platform that also underpins the China-only Changan Kaicheng F70. Sharing platforms keep costs down, so this has become an established trend in the motor industry.

It’s a good-looking vehicle, though. The prominent vertical grille with the Peugeot Lion in the centre and vertical LED light signatures (depending on the version) give it presence on the road. It certainly turned more than a few heads as we headed along Witkoppen Road to the ADA 4×4 Track in Broederstroom to test the newcomer’s off-road ability.

Inside the cabin, the hard plastic dashboard was a bit of a quality let-down, but Peugeot certainly did not hold back when speccing their new steed. The Allure 4×2 model comes standard with combo cloth/leather seats, an easy-to-use infotainment system featuring a high-res 10-inch touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control, hill descent control, hill-start assist and a rear-view parking camera. On the safety front, there’s ABS, ESC (Electronic stability control), lane departure warning, trailer sway control and six airbags. The top-spec Landtrek 4Action adds 18-inch alloy wheels, side steps, electrically adjustable front seats, full-leather trim, onboard navigation, a 360-degree camera system, lane departure warning and monitoring, a 4×4 low-range transfer case, and a rear diff-lock.

The drive

The Landtrek is powered by a 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine which develops 110kW power and 350Nm of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission on both variants. The 4×4’s drive-selector dial enables you to switch from 2H to 4H on the fly and is conveniently placed next to the gear lever.

On the open road, the Landtrek offered a compliant and comfortable drive, albeit not as smooth as that of the recently introduced Navara or even the older Hilux range. What I did find frustrating was a distinct turbo lag, especially from pull-away or when overtaking. Once it spooled up, however, it offered ample power and decent fuel consumption of around 9-litres/100km (close to the manufacturer’s claim of 8.5-litres/100km).

Out on the 4×4 track, the Landtrek truly impressed. Ground clearance is 235mm, and the vehicle has an approach angle of 29 degrees, a departure angle of 27 degrees and a breakover angle of 25 degrees. These figures are complemented by a 600mm wading depth, on par with segment contenders. I particularly liked the handy 360-degree camera, which projects onto the central touchscreen, helping identify otherwise hidden obstacles – a winner for me! As for load capacity, the Landtrek offers a leading 1.2 tonnes, as well as a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes.

Finally, a complete range of 40 customised accessories will be available for the Landtrek via the Peugeot dealer network, including running boards, thermoformed body protection, hard-top glass, and a chrome roll bar.

Model line-up & pricing:

  • Allure Double Cab 4×2: R579 900
  • 4Action Double Cab 4×4: R669 900

* The Landtrek is covered by a 5-year/100 000km warranty and service plan with maintenance intervals every 10 000km.

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