The market of mini trucks is pretty small and is filled with many Chinese models which don’t inspire too much confidence to buyers. Luckily, there are also other manufacturers who thought to take a stab at this segment, and one of them is Daihatsu.
Daihatsu’s experience in the mini LCV segment is pretty vast, as it started to built the first models since 1960. Thankfully, since then Daihatsu’s models were constantly upgraded and today, the most advanced small LCV in the company’s lineup is the Gran Max.
The Gran Max was launched in 2007 and is based on the old Hijet model which was received pretty well by the market. The new Gran Max has the same versatile character as its predecessor and is offered in three versions namely the van, minibus and pick up.
The Gran Max features a cab-forward design on a ladder frame chassis. It measures 4.2 meter in length and only 1.67m across, being a joy to maneuver around the narrow city streets. The vehicle’s load bed measures 2.3 m in length and 1.58 m across and can swallow a total load volume of 3.2m2 with a weight.
Unlike the old Hijet , the new Gran Max features a pretty nice design which we dare to say that it can be considered even modern. The truck keeps all the common elements of its predecessor and comes with a tall height and compact dimensions. The company’s designers have managed to find a good compromise between functionality and style which was hardly seen at the previous models built by the company.
However, a keen eye will spot small details that remind us of the Hijet . The most evident resemblance with its older brother is the oversized bumper which is a strong statement about the rugged character of the vehicle.
The grille is also almost at the same size as the old one, but now it features a more stylish design which copes great with the rest of the body.
The bonnet is heavily raked and follows the same angle as the windshield. The bonnet had also received a small longitudinal crease which hosts the company’s badge in the middle.
The headlights are also pretty modern and despite their simple shape they gel well with the big bumper and the raked bonnet.
On the inside, the Daihatsu Gran Max is a big improvement over its predecessors and offers more space than expected. The materials are still part of the hard class, as they were selected especially for their durability, but the fittings seem better and you don’t get the feeling that everything is going to fall apart after the first ride.
The dashboard features a simple and ergonomic design and is fitted with a few useful storage places designed to make your life on board a bit more comfortable.
Unlike the old generations, which came with a floor mounted gear knob, the Gran Max features a dash mounted knob which is much easier o use and improves the overall ergonomy. The only downside is that it’s located between the driver and HVAC controls, making them bit hard to reach.
As it was expected, instrumentation is basic with only a road-speed dial flanked by temperature and fuel gauges housed inside the binnacle.
The seats aren’t the most comfortable units you will find around, as they are a bit hard for our tastes. Luckily, they won’t give you any back pains even after a longer trip and they also come with plenty of adjustments which will help you find a proper driving position. The Steering wheels is also pretty ergonomically designed and it’s not intrusive, but it comes without any kind of adjustments.
As most vehicles in this segment, the Gran Max features a top notch road visibility and you are treated with a generous windshield, thin A pillars and big mirrors.
Engines and performance
The Daihatsu Gran Max is offered with a choice of two petrol engines including 1.3 litre or 1.5 litre units. The engines develop 85hp and 107 hp with a maximum torque of 100 Nm and 134 Nm, respectively. Both units are married to a standard 5-speed manual transmission.
The driver seats directly on top of the engine and you can have easy access to it by simply folding the front seats.
The DOHC motor employs Dynamic Variable Valve Timing, which improves torque at low revs, leading to better pull-off and a stronger punch. With almost 90 percent of the torque being available from as low as 2000 rpm you won’t have any problems when dealing with heavy payloads.
The 4-cylinder, 16- valve engines are fairly capable of coping with the arduous jobs of the vehicle and offer a satisfactory acceleration even when you carry some load at the back. They engines are also pretty efficient and the stronger unit scores an average fuel consumption of 7.5 liter/100 km.
Daihatsu Gran Max Engines Specifications
Ride and handling
The Daihatsu Gran Max gets MacPherson-struts with coil springs at the front and leaf springs at the back. The ride isn’t something to rave about, as the suspension does transfer many shocks to the occupants. Though, things will start to improve with speed or if you put some load at the back. Due to the small weight the high-speed stability isn’t special either.
The best part however, is that the vehicle is fairly easy to drive in the city, as beside its compact dimensions it also features a tight turning circle of only 10.0m. Moreover, you also get a short front overhang, 13 inch wheels and power steering which further improve the vehicle’s agility.
While some of the old mini LCVs where viewed with skepticism by almost any automotive enthusiast, the new Gran Max has the potential to change that perception. One of the biggest advantages of the Gran Max is its Japanese origin which means that it’s reliable and won’t let you down in the middle of nowhere.
Despite its compact dimensions, the Gran Max has a generous payload capacity and a pretty spacious cab which won’t make you feel cramped and offers a satisfactory comfort. The engines are also up to the task and can tackle a wide range of arduous missions without too much drama. The vehicle’s abilities to sneak through the congested traffic situations are also worth to be mentioned as they can’t be seen at the bigger LCVs.