I’m not gonna lie to you; when I first heard about the pick-up and saw it for the first time, expectations were not high largely due to the fact that the company was relatively unknown (at least to me, at that time). Apparently, JMC (otherwise known as Jiangling Motors Corporation) has been in Malaysia for some years now, with more focus on commercial vehicles sales.
The JMC Vigus Pro then is the company’s first pick-up offering in Malaysia through Angka-Tan Motor. The company is a subsidiary of Warisan Tan Chong Holdings.
We were given the car just two days after its launch and boy, was I surprised. There’s no denying that I’m not the biggest fan of how it looks; it has sharp edges, curves, and bulges that just doesn’t seem to jive, to me at least.
But looks are always subjective and a large portion of the people I met with the truck were actually impressed with how it looks – theory proven. Most were in favour of the large front grille with horizontal slates, and how imposing the front-end looked overall. The Vigus Pro’s LED daytime running probably had something to do with how aggressive the Vigus Pro looked as well.
On the outside, it seems to have everything you’d need in a 4×4 pick-up; a large cargo bed, leaf springs, rugged Maxxis tyres, a side step, and hooks for cargo/cover at the rear. It would’ve been more ideal to have a damper for the heavy tailgate but I suspect those who really use the Vigus Pro for what it’s intended for, would not complain about the absence of it.
Where the Vigus Pro started to impress (me at least) was the interior. The first thing I took notice of and a liking for during our pre-launch shoot were the seats. Granted, aesthetically they’re not the most exciting to look at but trust me, you wouldn’t be thinking about how it looks once you’re actually seated on it.
In that aspect, the padding on those seats is some of the most comfortable my brittle back and skinny bottom has laid on. That being said, if it was that soft when new, I’m not sure how long it can retain that buoyancy.
As for the rest of the interior, the Vigus Pro is certainly relevant in today’s market. It’s pleasing to the eye, with a predominantly black cabin although limited in features and equipment, it certainly doesn’t feel like a cheap 4×4.
It’s not a plain jane either; you get the sense that JMC does not want the Vigus Pro to be just a ‘budget pick-up” with standout items such as the twin-spoke steering wheel and a shift lever that looks like the one in the Peugeot 3008 and 5008.
It has a Bluetooth player, a 3.5-inch TFT display for some driving information and even paddle shifters. Interestingly, it comes with paddle shifters but for all the fancy stuff it tries to offer, the Vigus Pro lacks the telescopic adjustment function for the steering wheel.
For someone as tall as me, having a telescopic function is vital. Without it, either my hands will be too stretched out in order to accommodate my legs or they would be too close to the pedals, to accommodate my long arms. Like Bluetooth, the telescopic function should be mandatory in all cars by now.
As for the driving bit, here’s where the Vigus Pro started to impress. Its 2.0-litre turbocharged Ford engine offered plenty of grunt with 141 hp and 340 Nm but it’s how the power is delivered that was even more surprising.
Coupled with an 8-speed ZF gearbox, power delivery was smooth especially in the lower revs with the gearbox reacting quickly to any slightest input on the accelerator pedal. Fuel consumption is worth a mention too; with a mix of hard acceleration and light and easy cruising, the Vigus Pro returned a respectable 10.7L/100km. All this while bearing in mind that it’s less than RM100k, is quite impressive.
There is a quirk to it though; at lower speeds, each time you lift off the accelerator pedal, there’s a strong sense of engine braking pulling the car back which can be a little unsettling.
There’s plenty enough room at the back with the seats offering some slight recline angle but the vibration over bumps, as a result of the Vigus Pro’s ladder-frame chassis that all pick-ups adopt, is somehow a little more noticeable than your household names, but excusable because again, it’s only under RM100k.
That may sound appealing, but I suspect the RM98,888 Vigus Pro will still face stiff competition from the more established names still. If you compare their prices, the equivalent Ranger XL 4×4 is priced at RM105,388, the equivalent Triton 4×4 at RM105,990 and the equivalent Hilux V 4×4 at RM108,880.
For those looking to get a pick-up purely for heavy work use, the difference of RM10k or less in the asking price may not matter so much if the trade-off includes a more comprehensive dealership network for unforeseen circumstances.
It may be an impressive product if judged purely on its own but seeing as we’re spoilt for choices when it comes to buying a pick-up in Malaysia, it may require loads of work from JMC to avoid the Vigus Pro from quickly falling out of the public’s attention.