Back to basics
This is the sweet spot for me in the range on offer from the DMax series and it is none other than the 1.9l turbo diesel 6 speed manual (110 kW 340 Nm) that comes in double cab guise. In red.
At around R514k the lack of 4 times 4 on the vehicle didn’t bother me for a second. It has big wheels with big tyres and sturdy alloys and I will rely in my sheer innate skill of driving for everything else that may or may not be needed in the extremely rare occasion that I find myself in anything approaching an environment conducive to the use of 4 x 4.
The 1.9l TD is a win. It has plenty poke and torque for beetling around town and on the farm to keep anyone happy but it does come with plenty of turbo lag from the ‘old school’ single stage turbo. It was a bit of a blast from the past in keeping the engine in the sweet spot but again – if you can’t drive good then this vehicle is no good to you. Practise, and become better is my advice.
Once you have mastered how to drive a vehicle like this the DMax really cannot be complained about. The 6 speed box is as you would expect, agricultural and chunky – sporty fast changes up and down are not what it was built for. Smooth driving under heavy loads is what it is for, and pulling off in 2nd when unladen makes it a dog leg box if you absolutely HAVE to have a sporty homage in your life.
I love the Fit For Purpose approach in my project management philosophies and I think this is why the DMax and I clicked. That’s what it is. The bits that are fit, are well fit and quality. The bits that have no purpose are absent. For instance, a USB port at the rear is provided – but really, do you ever need more than one? No. So one it is.
And that extends everywhere. Aircon is manual. Push a button, rotate a few knobs and it works. Seat coverings are practical and durable – the running board to get into the cab feels as if it is welded into place. The tailgate is sturdy and constructed in such a way that you can replace the support struts yourself with nothing more than a leatherman to assist you. Doors will open and close after a million uses in the same way as the first time they opened and closed.
It feels like it has been engineered to be easily maintained in other words. Nothing should ever break on it but if it does it ought to be cheap to repair or replace. I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be the next vehicle to be tested by leaving out on the beach for the tide to sweep away, to set fire to and to crush by dropping it with an imploding building. I bet it’d survive and then run for another million kms to make a point.
At a shade over R500k the DMax is also competitive in price. It is a Seff Efrican bakkie, unashamedly. There are no surprises, no frills, no nonsense with every one of your rands in the asking price directly reflected in value fit for purpose that is what this DMax is all about. Consequently if you are looking at doing a million kms of hard labour over the next 20 years you just found one of the vehicles that HAS to be on your short list.