2013 Foton Tunland 4x4 Dual Cab Luxury Launch Review

Malcolm Flynn | 27 Comments

2013 FOTON TUNLAND REVIEW

What’s Hot: Reputable component suppliers, rear seat accommodation, relative pricing
What’s Not: Quality niggles. No auto, no cruise, nor ESC, no traction control, side or curtain airbags
X Factor: Gutsy Cummins diesel engine carries plenty of trucking cachet.

Engine: 2.8 litre turbodiesel | Transmission: five-speed manual
Power/torque: 120kW/360Nm
Fuel consumption listed: 8.4 l/100km | tested: 9.0 l/100km

Foton’s Tunland pickup has finally landed on Australian shores. It launches with a dual cab-only bodystyle into the increasingly competitive light commercial sector.

The Tunland is the first passenger model from the Chinese manufacturer to be launched locally.

Priced from $28,000 MLP in 4x2 and $34,500 in 4x4, it sits above the Great Wall V200/Ssangyong Actyon Sports/Mahindra Pik-Up models, but below all other equivalent light commercial dual cabs.

So, its not quite the cheapest ute in the land, but it still undercuts its mainstream competition.

An all-new design, the Tunland was launched onto the Chinese market earlier this year; Australia is the second export market to get the model after South Africa.

Like many recent light commercial models, Foton benchmarked the segment-hero Toyota HiLux during the Tunland’s development - but the Tunland is larger in all key dimensions than the equivalent HiLux SR5 dual cab model.

The Tunland’s 3105mm wheelbase is 20mm longer than HiLux, while its 5310mm overall length and 1880mm width are 50mm and 35mm larger respectively.

Likewise, the ute tub matches HiLux for length (1520mm), while its 1580mm width is 65mm greater and 440mm height is just 10mm shallower than the Toyota.

Foton also claims that the Tunland’s chassis is stronger than the HiLux, though no specific figures have been offered to support this.

Unique among the light commercial segment is the Tunland’s Beijing-assembled 2.8 litre Cummins ISF turbodiesel engine.

Producing a handy 120kW/360Nm, the engine is to be a hallmark of Foton’s Australian range: the renowned truck drivetrain supplier’s logo is proudly affixed to each of the Tunland’s front doors.

Cummins has designed the engine to last an impressive 500,000km, though the requisite 5000km service intervals will need to be adhered to.

Other brand-name components include the German-built Getrag five-speed manual transmission, Dana axles, Borg Warner transfer case, and Bosch electrical components.

Local Foton distributor Foton Automotive Australia (FAA) undertook an 8000km local evaluation program with the Tunland, which sees Australian-spec models coated in more corrosion-resistant PPG paint, along with unique windscreen wipers and wing mirrors, and a vacuum booster added to the clutch mechanism.

But there are some serious omissions. The Tunland’s spec-list does not include cruise, stability or traction control, and nor are there side or curtain airbags.

2013 foton tunland launch review australia 06

On the up-side, all models are fitted with ABS and reversing sensors as standard.

Foton expects the Tunland to achieve a 4-Star Euro NCAP safety rating, but it has is yet to be submitted for local ANCAP testing.

A 4-Star rating would position the Tunland below its many 5-Star light commercial rivals, but it would also outshine other budget alternatives like the 2-Star Great Wall V240 and 3-Star Mahindra Pik-Up and Ssangyong Actyon Sports.

The Tunland is available now in both 4x2 and 4x4 dual cab models, with either ‘Quality’ or ‘Luxury’ trim levels.

FAA had three 4x4 Luxury models available at this week’s local media event on Queensland’s Gold Coast. We got behind the wheel for nearly 200km of urban, highway, rural and off-road conditions.

THE INTERIOR

The Tunland’s interior is contemporary and inoffensive; cabin materials feel in line with the more recent category rivals.

First impressions were tarnished however: two of the three Tunlands on test emitted a constant squeak from behind the instrument cluster, evident even on smooth tarmac.

(A similar foible was found in another of the test cars, where what seemed to be a loose plastic wheelarch liner resonated annoyingly against the Tunland’s body throughout the test.)

Front seats are flat and broad, offering sufficient cushioning over the test route but likely to leave most drivers wanting greater support on longer journeys.

Rear seat accommodation offers comparable legroom with the current best in the segment, while the backrest angle is similarly impressive.

The rear-seat base also folds upright to sit against the seatback via a unique cantilevered hinge, maximising the space available when the seat base is lifted.

2013 foton tunland australia 09

Centre rear occupants make do with a lap-only belt design, while front seatbelts are equipped with pretensioners and force limiters.

Each door is equipped with bottle holders, and two cupholders are integrated into the centre console.

Steering adjustment is rake-only; steering-wheel controls will be added exclusively to Luxury models from 2013.

The Luxury model tested looks set to be the volume seller of the Tunland line-up. Its modest $500 premium over Quality models (both 4x2 and 4x4) brings heated mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity from 2013 onwards, iPod port, leather steering wheel and leatherette seat trim.

Significantly for family buyers, FAA’s press material suggests that rear child seat anchorage points will only be fitted from 2013.

ON THE ROAD

All three Tunlands on test were literally box-fresh. The unit assigned to this correspondent showed just 11km on its odometer at the start of the drive program.

We expected - and found - a really taut engine and mechanicals, though the five-speed gearbox loosened up considerably throughout the day.

The 2.8 litre engine felt as strong as its 360Nm from 1800rpm would suggest, but turbo lag was greater than expected of a modern design (perhaps due to the fresh engine).

Nonetheless, our Tunland had no trouble keeping up with Gold Coast traffic as we headed out of town, but the lack of cruise control proved annoying on the highway.

Relatively tall gearing results in a relaxed 1900rpm in fifth gear at 100km/h, but it doesn’t have the useful flexibility of a six-speeder.

Open-road acceleration is hampered by the turbo lag, but once on-song, the 2.8 litre had no trouble moving the 1950kg 4x4 Tunland Luxury.

Foton claims sub-13.5 second 0-100km/h acceleration and 150km/h top speed for all dual-cab Tunland models; on the basis of this test, we have no reason to doubt this.

We drove the cars unladen, but Tunland’s specs quote a 1025kg payload and 2500kg braked towing rating.

FAA admits that this tow rating is currently being reassessed in light of recent 3000kg-plus rated models from other manufacturers, and is confident of achieving a 3000kg official rating in the near future.

The Tunland’s suspension layout features a double wishbone independent front end, with spring-over-axle rear, along with a disk/drum braking combination.

This is in-line with the category standard.

It works okay in practice; the Tunland corners relatively flatly although the jiggly unladen ride is more reminiscent of utes of old rather than what the likes of Ranger/BT50 and Amarok.

The brakes performed adequately, however one of the three Tunlands on test ended the drive program with a smoking right-rear brake (right side only) - suggesting a poorly adjusted dragging brake shoe.

OFF THE ROAD

We put the Tunlands over a low-range fire trail, with plenty of second and third-low constant inclines and the odd washout to test wheel articulation.

The rear suspension articulated well for an unladen leaf setup, while the independent front design gave no cause for concern.

Foton doesn’t quote any entry/departure or ramp-over angles for the Tunland aside from a minimum ground clearance of 210mm; off road, it seems comparable with the HiLux (but a more demanding test is necessary).

In its favour, the Tunland’s off-road credentials are boosted by a steel sump-guard and limited-slip diff.

This LSD goes some way to disguising the Tunland’s lack of traction control, but the surfaces of the off-road course were not loose enough to properly put it through its paces.

Tyre choice for all Tunland dual cabs are 245/70R16 GT Radial highway terrain boots. They seemed to work okay off-road.

Transfer case selection is via shift-on-the-fly console button (at low speeds) giving a useful low-range for heavier off-road work.

At the end of the off-road section though, one of the Tunlands on test was reluctant to shift out of low-range 4x4 mode, despite trying the usual ‘reverse back’ trick.

A few cycles of the 4L and 2H buttons soon saw the appropriate 4x2 high range mode engaged and we were able to proceed as planned.

FIRST DRIVE VERDICT

The Foton Tunland dual-cab sits above similar price-leading models from Great Wall, Mahindra and Ssangyong, but it’s a lot cheaper than segment leaders like HiLux, Navara, and Ranger.

Importer FAA is counting on the sticker price value and the reputation of the other brand names the Tunland is carrying - Cummins, Getrag and Bosche et al - to find a mid-point buyer niche.

There’s no doubt however that its appeal is diminished by the omission of safety features like side/curtain airbags, stability control, and traction control, and also by the lack of an automatic transmission option.

The several quality niggles experienced on test were also unfortunate. FAA’s Daniel Phelan explained that the three Tunlands on test were so fresh from importation that they had not been subjected to a pre-delivery inspection.

Hmm, that’s a shame. It’s perhaps the best of the cheapies but a full test of a more well-travelled unit is necessary before we’d be confident of making a call on Foton’s enigmatic Tunland.

Pricing

  • Foton Tunland Quality 4x2 - $28,000
  • Foton Tunland Luxury 4x2 - $28,500
  • Foton Tunland Quality 4x4 - $34,500
  • Foton Tunland Luxury 4x4 - $35,000

Filed under: Featured, review, diesel, rwd, 4wd, turbocharged, lcv, Manual, utility, pickup, light commercial, dual-cab, Advice, special-featured, 4cyl, 4door, 5m, foton, 5seat, foton tunland, tunland, available, 35-40k, 25-30k, 30-35k, 2013my, top news november 2012

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  • cyclone says,
    1 year ago
    4 likes
    Who are these stupid distributors. Why wouldn't you inspect these things before providing them to the press. They deserve the bad comments. Imagine what they'll do to ones just being sold to the public???
    • XJS says,
      5 months ago
      A true reflection of quality, perhaps.
  • Smart us says,
    1 year ago
    another car maker thanks to Juliar and her funny deals... this is an insult to australian public
  • BH says,
    1 year ago
    4 likes
    still like it
  • OutbackOZ
    OutbackOZ says,
    1 year ago
    I can not see how they expect to get 4 stars safety. With no ESP, traction control or any form of side airbags! I'm not against china bringing cars in or any other country but Australia needs to up its standards a bit.
    • Smart us says,
      1 year ago
      3 likes
      coz on the crash test they dont intend to slam the breaks...
  • Alan Smithee says,
    1 year ago
    4 likes
    Good read!
    When thinking about Japanese cars, Skylines and MX5's come to mind - no one's thinking about the Datto 180B.

    I think the Chinese will roll out a few duds, but will eventually achieve success - or at least illegally copy a success.

    It's the Golden Triangle's time to shine - literally showering us with their faulty products and such, ad nauseum.
  • Keep It Real says,
    1 year ago
    The greatest shame is this vehicle had the foundations to be one of the better chinese vehicles. With all the time it has taken to finally get this ready for launch it's amazing FAA would release this vehicle with the disclaimer that the 2013 model will be better and will even have blue tooth and cruise control... Geez this whole excercise by FAA has been mistake after mistake and just to cap it off, like previous poster said "why wouldn't you inspect these things before providing them to the press". What were they (FAA) thinking? Talk about wasted opportunities.
  • CP says,
    1 year ago
    Shame to see crucial safety features omitted. Reckless on behalf of the company to put forward vehicles to the press that wernt subject to a pre-delivery inspection. Still it has better credentials than its counterparts for now.
  • Dual rating says,
    1 year ago
    A dual rated heater can be wired to either of the 2 voltage ratings listed on the product identification label. However, the wattage output will decrease with the lower voltage
  • FrugalOne says,
    1 year ago
    3 likes
    I am with the [ex] first importer

    WAY TO EXPENSIVE

    FAIL

    sad

  • allein morrison says,
    1 year ago
    Interesting the Chinese own half of Australia now in mining and farming production and now they expect us to drive cars with out some basic safety items.

    A question what is more important the life of your passengers ie your family or mates or saving a few hard earned $$$

    the answer is a simple one for many of us and that is your family and mates you have that responsibility as a driver to make it safe for your passengers .

    from down town broken hill where the Chinese own the mine here
  • Mozz says,
    1 year ago
    Can't see what you are all winging about? It's the initial launch so there will be some teething problems. From memory the first Hilux's were gutless as anything and pretty much useless all round compared to cruisers etc. I invite you to think of some of the cars you have had over the years and compare them to this. I know which one I would rather be in!!!
    • steve says,
      15 days ago
      Its alright saying early hiluxes or dattos were rubbish but that was thirty years ago
      Chinese manufacturers are still thirty years behind whennit comes to quality and safety
  • The Truth Fairy says,
    1 year ago
    1 like
    teething problems have to be expected from the first model of any vehicle.
    The supplier list is impressive.
    Could just be one to watch, but for the bumbling distributors ( the aussie component?)
  • Matt Jordan says,
    11 months ago
    3 likes
    Finally a new car without the extras that play up I'm really keen to buy one as they seem much more rugged than their competitors it's what you need in a ute or 4x4!
    • dan says,
      10 months ago
      im with you mate if you want a car go get a kia with the bells and *** this truck is basic yes but look whats powering it Cummings dyna and the list goes on and the price im pissed I got a 2012 sr5 hilux and those great walls lol
      • Deb says says,
        10 months ago
        Ha Great wall they look great but problem after problem Number 1 Have to keep changing the head lights as they are faulty but they cant find a problem 2.the boost hose had so fare in 11 months has been changed three time so fare.Heater does not work and the fan does not work seats are very uncomfortable and the list goes onmad
        • bolivar says,
          8 months ago
          thank you for the information, I was going to buy one Foton. Now I have to keep my old Nissan till I can complete the $ for a new one.
  • henny says,
    10 months ago
    5 likes
    BLEW MY HILUX UP AFTER 50,000KM BOUGH A FOTON WILL NEVER DRIVE A HILUX AGAIN..FOTON NOW HAS 20,000KM AND HILUX IS PARKED UP..
    • CAZZO says,
      4 months ago
      1 like
      BLEW MY HILUX UP AFTER 50,000KM BOUGH A FOTON WILL NEVER DRIVE A HILUX AGAIN..FOTON NOW HAS 20,000KM AND HILUX IS PARKED UP..


      What sort of deal are you doing on your fotons at your caryard, i heard they have reduced the price and now inc ORC in the price, sold just 175 units, 1 dealership can do that with Toyota's in one month...

  • Kieran says,
    8 months ago
    Um triton anyone. 30 k
  • Realist says,
    7 months ago
    1 like
    airbags, ESC, EBD, blah blah
    Give me a basic reasonably priced well performing no frills diesel full chassis ute any day. We have all become a bit precious nowadays. I cross the country 25 yrs ago in a HQ wagon, never had a problem.


  • Paul says,
    5 months ago
    Test drove a 'quality' 2013 version, what a vehicle, exactly what it is supposed to be, one look under the hood, you can easily see every major bolt on component - ie water pump, alternator, turbo, starter etc. It's a big improvement over many of the older 4x4's, I live in the middle of nowhere and most modern 4x4's have that much junk in them that you can't swing a spanner in the engine bay when it breaks down. The triton is an unreliable bucket, the hilux is way over priced and has constant signs of water pump leakage and failing rear wheel bearings, i look after a fleet of mining vehicles and I see first hand how the more expensive ones deteriorate, I don't think that I would have anything to lose in getting the Tunland - So I have ordered one and my friends that have just purchased Rangers and D-Max vehicles are left wondering if they spent way to much!
  • Kwong says,
    4 months ago
    Have 1 for a month now...LOVE IT....never again Toyota..Sorry dedicated Toyota fans but they are way over priced for what you get today.
    Friends who have upgraded various models after tax time. a whinging since they have traveled in my Tunland. More room in the back than a friends Hilux. They all agree they spent to much money...

    Already planned to upgrade to the new 2014 model heard it has quite a few more features..

    10 x 10 for us...
    • Fisho says,
      3 months ago
      Went for a drive today. Good performance not bad quality but lacking auto , cruise and safety features
  • Ocker says,
    2 months ago
    FAA are no longer importing these vehicles. I hope it isn't bad news for Tunland owners.
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