GOING up against the likes of the Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max, Mitsubishi Triton and Toyota Hilux, the JMC Vigus Pro 4X4 certainly has its work cut out within Malaysia’s hotly contested pick-up truck battleground.
Assembled and sold exclusively by Angka-Tan Motor (ATM) Sdn Bhd, the Vigus Pro entices with its RM98,888 asking price (on-the-road without insurance - Peninsular Malaysia).
As expected, affordability is the main spearhead of this second best-selling pick-up truck model in China.
Taking a look at its offerings, the Vigus Pro brings with it renowned, reputable and robust mechanical parts starting with a Ford-derived 2.0-litre Puma (Euro3) direct-injected diesel engine with a variable geometry turbocharger.
Furthermore, it impresses with the use of an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shifters from German gearbox-maker ZF to manage power delivery to the Eaton differential lock and BorgWarner’s four-wheel-drive (4WD) system. Impressive names indeed.
Such a transmission is usually associated with more luxury-oriented brands.
Looks-wise, some might muse that the front grille with its chromed twin-horizontal slats and fog lamp areas may be obtusely oversized to leave little room for the logo and headlights.
Then again, doing so does help in pronouncing a sporty-aggressive appearance at the front while the rest of the body is hallmarked by chiselled musculature for its sheet metal to undoubtedly attract the more masculine buyers.
Although the specifications sheet does indicate that the Vigus Pro rolls on 16-inch wheels, it came fitted with 17-inch instead, an ATM representative clarified that it will be the first 100 customers while the fibreglass sports bar with a high-mounted integrated stop lamp is a standard fitment.
Some notable external necessaries such as the satin-finished front skid plate, side step-bars for ease of ingress, properly integrated reverse camera and cargo hook anchor points to help secure tall payloads (850kg-max) at the rear as well as front and aft parking sensors that will automatically activate.
Inside, the cabin is simple and while there are carpet mats to be had, the floor beneath them is lined with black vinyl to help prevent the lingering of dirt - a definite welcome for those who tend to venture off-road.
Standing out prominently is the two-spoked multi-function steering wheel that’s been wrapped in leather and provides for a girthy feel in the hands.
The “horn-like” electronic gear shifter with manual mode adds a welcomed touch of technological presence within - as does the Android-powered 8-inch touchscreen.
Owners will be happy to be provided with automatic headlights and wipers as well as folding exterior mirrors with integrated LED turn signals.
The availability of cruise control and paddle-shifters for that spirited experience are added plus.
The controls and buttons in general are “soft” in their operating ways and have been ergonomically designed into the dashboard with high levels of legibility and accessibility in mind.
Overall, the cabin has a pleasant experience and those who tend to partake on long hauls will be happy to note the plush nature of the fabric seats.
This experience is also extended to the front and rear passengers.
Power delivery from the 2.0-litre (1,998cc) turbodiesel mill is smooth with 141PS at 3,600rpm and 340Nm of torque from 1,500rpm to 2,600rpm.
Thanks to the ZF gearbox’s logic, shifts are notably smooth and relatively quick to adapt.
While vibrations are commonly associated with diesel-powered mills, there are very little of them intruding into the cabin regardless of whether the Vigus Pro is stationary, crawling or cruising.
Even when it is equipped with rear leaf springs, passenger comfort isn’t as jarring as one might expect.
Wind noise intrusion into the cabin becomes more apparent above 110kph.
Stopping power is impressive with plenty of brake feel and can be attributable to the Vigus Pro’s surprising standard inclusion of four disc brakes.
Off-roaders will be happy to note the inclusion of a roundel switch allowing the driver to switch between 2WD, 4WD (High) and 4WD (Low) on the fly - up to 30kph, along with hill-descent control and 225mm of ground clearance.
So far, little can fault the Vigus Pro given its offerings, necessities and high levels of practicality - until it meets a keen eye of course.
Without any doubt, much of the Vigus Pro does look and feel well put together.
Aside from the fact that it lacks certain features such as Android Auto or Apple CarPlay connectivity isn’t that big of a big deal – or that it has just two airbags, a non-telescopic steering wheel, halogen bulbs for the front and rear lights, a driver-side rubber wiper blade that’s a tad short in its coverage, and a dummy camera in the front grille probably due to the test unit being a fully-imported vehicle.
While rivals might have driver-side A-pillar grab handle and driver-side vanity mirror, their absence are not critical.
However, the Vigus Pro gets telescopic struts to hold the front hood up, LEDs for its daytime running lights and exterior mirror’s turn signals (with heating and automatic power-folding function), one-touch power windows with anti-pinch function and a rear step bumper.
Safety features are also not lacking with anti-lock braking system, electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic stability programme, traction control and hill-start assist.
ATM and JMC inked a Vehicle Technology Licensing agreement to allow ATM the sole right to manufacture, assemble and sell the Vigus Pro and its related parts and components in Malaysia.
The Vigus Pro is available across ATM’s 13 sales and service outlets nationwide.
JMC Vigus Pro 4X4
Engine: 1,998cc, directed-injected Puma turbodiesel with VGT
Maximum power: 141PS at 3,600pm
Maximum torque: 340Nm from 1,500 to 2,600rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed ZF automatic
Drivetrain: BorgWarner 4WD system with Eaton rear differential lock
Steering: Rack and pinion hydraulic power steering system
Fuel tank: 68 litres
Fuel consumption: 7.8L/100km (UNECE R101 test)
Kerb weight: 1,995kg
Suspension: Front independent double-wishbone with coil springs, rear rigid axle with multi-leaf springs
Rear bed (with liner): 1,475mm x 1,475mm x 500mm
Features: Dual front airbags, anti-lock braking system, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control, electronic stability programme, hill start assist, hill descent control (up to 8kph), automatic halogen "tiger eyes" headlights, halogen rear light clusters, automatic wipers, front and rear fog lamps, fibreglass sports bar with high-mounted integrated stop lamp, 17-inch alloy wheels (first 100 customers), 16-inch two-tone alloys with 265/70 Maxxis A/T tyres, automatic power-adjustable external mirrors with integrated LED turn signals (with heating and automatic power-folding function), LED C-shaped daytime running lights, side steps, rear bumper-step, front skid-plate, front and rear disc brakes, manually-adjustable fabric seats, speed-sensing automatic door locks, 2-spoke multi-function steering wheel with paddle-shifters, automatic up/down power windows with anti-pinch function, four-speaker Android-powered 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen system (with Bluetooth connectivity, reverse camera, USB port, MP5 playback), manual climate controls, front and rear parking sensors and ISOFIX top tether points
Price: RM98,888 (on-the-road without insurance) with a 3-year/100,000km manufacturer's warranty