Yuejin XK Pick-Up — August 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Chinese manufacturer Yuejin is aiming to grab a slice of the UK's four-door double cab pick-up market with a truck that's bound to appeal to the cost-conscious.
The Yuejin XK will soon be on sale at the ultra-low price of £9,995 plus VAT; and despite the price there's no stinting on creature comforts.
For your money you get air conditioning, leather seats, electric windows front and back, a radio/CD player, power steering and remote central locking. Styling embellishments include chrome side-steps, a chrome rear bumper incorporating a step and a factory-fitted front A-bar.
This latter item will not be the same as the one on the XK featured. It will be deformable and comply with the latest UK regulations.
Power comes courtesy of a 138 bhp 2.4-litre engine built under licence from Toyota that will run on either petrol or liquefied petroleum gas. It's married to a five-speed manual gearbox. Automatic transmission is available, but will not initially be offered in Britain.
Unusually, the XK is initially being imported solely as a 4x2, even though a 4x4 is on offer from the factory. By adopting this policy independently owned importer Yuejin UK is hoping to deflect some of the criticisms levelled at the use of big 4x4s in urban areas.
That matters to the company because it's very much targeting customers who regularly drive into the centre of London. It's hoping that XK's dual-fuel status will mean that users can claim exemption from the congestion tax. The dual-fuel conversion work is carried out in Britain.
Maximum payload is 1,025kg, so business users should be able to claim back the VAT. Access to the cargo bed is by means of a tailgate released by a single, centrally mounted, handle and there are three externally mounted rope hooks on each sidewall.
Maximum load length is 1,498mm, maximum width is 1,549mm narrowing to 1,066mm between the wheel boxes, while maximum sidewall height is 412mm. Rear loading height is 723mm.
Independent suspension is fitted at the front while leaf springs help support the rear of the vehicle. The pre-production model we inspected was sitting on 15in wheels shod with Yellowseal — we've never heard of them either — 225/75 R15 tyres.
You'll find disc brakes at the front and drums at the back. There was some confusion over the situation with ABS, but it looks as though the XKs that go on sale will be available with it, and with driver and passenger airbags.
They will also be on offer with four different paint finishes; metallic black, metallic silver and two shades of blue.
On the Road
We took to the roads around the importer's Surrey headquarters in the pre-production version.
We had no quarrels at all with the performance. XK accelerates strongly through the gears and should have no trouble holding its own on the motorway.
Its suspension offered a comfortable-enough ride and the handling seemed safe and predictable, but the steering was slightly wayward, regularly requiring minor corrections. The gearchange could stand to be smoother, but our big concern was with the positioning of the accelerator and brake pedals.
They're way too close, especially if you're wearing workman's boots. Yuejin UK says it is aware of the fault and that it will be corrected by the time the truck goes on sale.
Glancing around the cab we noted that the steering column is height-adjustable and that oddment storage facilities include pockets in the front doors, a bin between the front seats and a cubby hole at the bottom of the dashboard. Good to see that the handbrake lever is floor-mounted and that the driver doesn't have to struggle with an umbrella-type release mounted under the dashboard.
The driver's seat isn't height adjustable, however, and doesn't provide enough support. Even on a short trip we were starting to suffer the first twinges of back-ache.
The centre rear passenger is held in place solely with a lap-strap and is not protected by a headrest. A headrest should be provided and the strap replaced by a full lap-and-diagonal belt.
Protected by a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, XK is traditionally styled and if we're honest looks a bit dated. Yuejin is working on altering its appearance, however, to give it a smoother, softer outline.
Yuejin builds over 180,000 vehicles annually at its three Chinese plants and is already selling a dual-fuel light commercial in the UK with a marked resemblance to an old-style Nissan Cabstar.
Sales growth has been hampered by the lack of a dealer network but there are signs that this is being addressed. The importer is aiming to recruit an initial 20 to 30 dealers nationwide.
In particular it is looking for four or five in the London area and three or four to cover Leeds and Manchester. The latter city is likely to be the first major urban area after London to see a congestion tax introduced.
Network growth should help Yuejin UK realise its initial target of selling 500 XKs annually, rising to 2,500 to 3,000 a year longer term. It's also planning to import a panel van produced by another Chinese manufacturer that looks rather like the old-style forward control Toyota Hiace and put it on sale in the UK this autumn at under £10,000.
At that price it's worth investigating if all you want is a cheap workhorse and you're not fussed about the lack of four-wheel drive. A single-cab XK may be available in the future.