Choosing a 4×4

In Technical by Glyn DemmerLeave a Comment

The time has come and you approach the dealership with trepidation and many questions, even though you have fixed your budget you are still confused;

  • Double Cab bakkie or a station wagon SUV type vehicle?
  • New or used?
  • Petrol or Diesel.

It’s a bit of a minefield and you are actually contemplating walking away from it all! Yet nervously you proceed into the dealership. Well here are a few pointers covering choosing a vehicle as well as pros and cons.

The station wagon or double cab bakkie choice, this will really come down to how much kit and equipment you intend carrying. Modern bakkies have significantly more load causing capacity and comparable luxury and safety features, good off-road performance and on-road ride and handling. On the other hand, a good wagon will generally be more comfortable on and off-road and may offer superior protection for equipment with better weather and dust sealing. The compromise here will be the choice of the front axle, a wagon with a solid front axle may be better off-road but on-road performance may be compromised. The fitment of weighty accessories such as a replacement bumper, winch, long-range fuel tank, packing system and extra spare wheel needs to be considered in both cases and a suspension upgrade may be necessary. A bakkie with a canopy will have a larger cargo area and payload in most cases. But you will need to fit a good canopy with a dust sealing kit that keeps kit dry and dust-free. Then one should also consider the size and wheelbase of the vehicle especially if it will be used for the daily commute to work or kids run to school.

Then once you have chosen your vehicle configuration you have to consider new vs. used, when buying a new vehicle you get the full benefits that come with it in terms of a warranty and service plan and you get to write the history, you can accessorise as you see fit according to your budget. However dependent on the manufacturer your new purchase may lose value as you leave the dealership. So let’s look at second hand, pricing is your advantage here and if you look around you may find a bargain with all the accessories you need. However dependent on the source of the vehicle you may never know the true service history. You should also look at the remaining period in terms of the warranty and service/maintenance plan as you may have to buy additional cover.

Then comes the big debate, Petrol or Diesel? I prefer diesel engines on and off-road a petrol engine may produce more peak power but it does so at higher revs, I prefer the low RPM. midrange torque offered by a diesel engine for towing and driving off-road – matched to an auto box is an unbeatable combination. Petrol engines tend to be more refined in terms of smoothness but diesel power plants have come a long way over the last few years and offer better fuel economy. When fitted with a raised air intake ( Snorkel ) they are better at wading with their closed compression ignition as opposed to the electrics of a petrol power-plant.

When it comes to improvements one must realise that the manufacturers offer a vehicle to the public that suits the general usage of most of their buyers and is attractively priced, your specific requirements may need the fitment of additional accessories and tyres, always consult your manufacturer to ensure that the fitment items are approved and will not void your warranty, ensure that you insure with a good 4×4 policy – and specify the value of the additional items – happy travels from all at All-Terrain. 

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