Good little workhorse

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Test-drive a truck?!! If that’s your reaction, well, it was ours too when we received Yontrakit Kia Motors’ invitation to try out the Kia K2700.

When a company tries this hard you just have to hand it to them. The importer of Kia vehicles into the Kingdom manages to stay afloat in the highly competitive market with a strategy based on canny product selection. So, if they are thinking of selling a four-wheel commercial vehicle, it must be worth a closer look.

As mentioned earlier in the test drive of the Kia Pregio Grand Touring mini-van, the models Yontrakit imports cater to market segments ignored by others. No other car company offers mini-vans here, just as, until the launch of the Mitsubishi Space Wagon this month, there was no other full-sized MPV available besides the Kia Carnival. And in the large SUV segment, the only competition to the Kia Sorento is another South Korean model, the Ssangyong Rexton.

Yontrakit now plans to import the Kia K2700, a light truck capable of carrying a load of 1,500 kilograms – 500kg more than your everyday pickup. The test drive event was hosted in Kanchanaburi, where the test vehicles were loaded with corn and pineapple.

The K2700 uses the same engine as the Pregio, so acceleration is lacking. The 2.7-litre diesel engine feels strained when pushed hard. Whether the 172Nm of torque available at 2,400rpm will be enough to haul a 1.5-tonne load up an incline is a moot point.

Insiders at Yontrakit say the K2700 would be ideal for businesses that don’t exactly require a six-wheeler, but for which a pickup would be too small. The truck could help cut fuel bills by reducing the number of trips required to move goods.

Yontrakit also says that the diesel engine has been kept simple so that customers can get servicing done by local mechanics rather than having to go to company service centres, thus reducing down time.

The interior of the K2700 is easy to get used to, with enough air-conditioning to numb your head, comfortable seats, and even cup-holders and cubby-holes.

The driving position is, well, like that of a truck. This is the first truck I have driven and definitely not comparable to anything else I’ve driven before.

The steering is power assisted, which makes cornering easier, but feels a bit vague.

The K2700’s overall length is 4.82 metres, less than a 4-door Isuzu pickup, and it’s turning radius a mere 9.8 metres, so the difficulty in manoeuvring is psychological rather than physical.

The brakes, although not comparable to a pickup’s, do provide adequate stopping power.

The truck’s bed, unlike in pickups, does not have wheel arches protruding into it and can be opened from three sides for easier loading and unloading.

In the aesthetics department, the K2700’s front looks somewhat modern by truck standards, probably due to its multi-reflector headlamps. From the rear though, it’s a plain truck, with simple side railings and hooks jutting out from the bodywork to help tie down goods.

Overall, the K2700 is an attractive package for a working truck, given that it’s price tag is just Bt569,000.

Although we remain doubtful about the its market prospects, Yontrakit believes it can move 1,400 units by the end of the year.

Vijo Varghese

The Nation

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