Before the late 1980s, Malaysian motorists preferred manual transmissions and though there were some models with automatic transmissions, these were not popular because of the negative perception of such transmissions. They reduced performance and also increased fuel consumption, and they usually cost more. It was only when Proton introduced the Saga 1.5I that automatic transmissions started to gain favour and then Toyota introduced the Corolla (AE90) with an efficient automatic transmission that the shift started.

Today, it is the reverse with more models sold in Malaysia having automatic transmissions and a whole generation of motorists has grown up using them. Now, the convenience of automatic shifting comes to the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment with the sales launch of the latest Daihatsu Gran Max Panel Van this week.

The Gran Max, imported from Indonesia, has been in the market for the past 8 years, having brought Daihatsu back to the LCV segment which it once dominated with the Hijet. The Gran Max arrived at a time when the LCV segment saw a lower number of choices so it filled a vacuum, helped by the reputation of the Hijet. Apart from being a more modern small commercial vehicle, it also offered better performance and safety, with ABS being a notable safety feature. Dual airbags are also standard, for extra protection during a frontal collision.

The latest Gran Max with the 4-speed automatic transmission is an updated version and specially designed to accommodate the requirements of mobile businesses such as food truck and pasar malam operators. It’s also ideal for SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises) as well as government agencies.

The vehicle has a 1.5-litre DOHC petrol engine with DVVT (variable valve timing) and EFI, tuned to run optimally on RON95. With a maximum output of 96.6 ps/134 Nm, it has enough power to handle a GVW of 2,000 kgs (payload up to 890 kgs), ample for most operators.

1.5-litre EFI engine is under the seat (right). Gran Max brake system has ABS for safer stopping in emergencies.

Rear-wheel drive helps in improving traction, particularly as there will be a heavy load towards the rear of the vehicle. The driver will also be less fatigued with power steering as standard and the 4.7-metre turning radius will make manoeuvring easy in tight parking areas.

“Although the new product is manufactured at the Jakarta ADM Plant, all three arms of Daihatsu Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia took pride of working hand-in-hand, conducting in-depth research of our very own local environment and habits,” said Dr. Iqbal Shaharom, MD of Daihatsu (Malaysia) and Acting President & CEO of MBM Resources Bhd.

The Gran Max Panel Van with automatic transmission is priced from RM69,888 (Peninsular Malaysia price, excluding insurance) and comes with a warranty of 3 years or maximum mileage of 100,000 kms.

The first 100 customers who place bookings before September 30, 2018 will receive a Free Service Maintenance Package for the first year.

Daihatsu Malaysia also has a Mobile Service team which can go to the premises of owners to provide general maintenance services. Currently available within the Klang Valley and Johor (soon to expand to other regions), the charges are at the standard service centre rate (now with 6% SST added).

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[Chips Yap]


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