Some diehard bakkie enthusiasts still reminisce about the Peugeot 404 and 504 bakkies. Rugged and dependable, these were the bakkies of choice for those who needed a workhorse back in the day. When the 504 model line was discontinued in 1994, it appeared to be the end of the line for the popular French bakkie. However, Peugeot recently decided that the time was ripe to present a sequel, and we were understandably excited about it. 

Can Peugeot recreate a bakkie as venerable as the 404 and 504? That was the unspoken question during the launch of the new Peugeot Landtrek recently. Peugeot graciously hosted Driven at the majestic Leonardo Hotel in Sandton, Gauteng, described as “the beacon of hope in the heart of Africa’s richest square mile” – an appropriate location, considering that Peugeot, one of the oldest car companies in the world, dating back 210 years, has returned to South Africa to provide a beacon of hope in the bakkie segment. 

Peugeot is renowned for having delved into various industries for over two centuries – from coffee and pepper grinders to bicycles and, most notably, cars. A significant contender in motorsport, boasting numerous victories, including the World Endurance Championship, the World Rally Championship, the 24-Hours of Le Mans, and the Dakar Rally, the marque has a keen understanding of what competition truly means. With such a pedigreed history, the return of Peugeot to South Africa, first in the car segment and now in the bakkie segment, is cause for much optimism and great excitement.

Distinctive Look

The Landtrek represents a significant departure from the previous design language when Peugeot last ventured into the bakkie business. Everything about the new bakkie exudes modernity. Given the competitive landscape of the market in SA, it is imperative for every new entrant to look the part and to have an identity of its own. The Landtrek sports a sizeable upright grille adorned with the conspicuous Lion emblem. The headlight cluster flanking the grille comes with distinct vertical daylight running lamps that add to the bakkie’s unique identity. 

The body appears muscular and rugged yet restrained and dapper. For those who perceive the Landtrek to be somewhat tame, there is a choice of 28 accessories available to install at any Peugeot dealership. As a launch, the Landtrek is available in double cab format, with two trim levels; the entry-level Allure and the range-topping 4Action.

First Class Cabin

The Landtrek cabin is reminiscent of other Peugeot models, featuring the latest generation creature comforts from the brand’s compelling SUVs. In centre stage on the dash is a 10” touchscreen that comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The accompanying 10 GB hard drive adds to the overall usefulness of the media interface. The high-quality screen also doubles as output for the 360-degree cameras, available only on the range-topping 4Action.

The entire cabin is tastefully decorated with attractive materials that complement the solid build quality. Remarkably, Peugeot’s piano key/toggles for the automatic dual climate control also found their way into the Landtrek. In our opinion, there is no better alternative to climate controls than tactile physical buttons, and Peugeot’s execution hits the mark in this respect. 

The rear seat in the double cab was clearly designed with passenger comfort in mind. Unlike some bakkies that offer a near upright sitting position, the Landtrek provides a 23-degree tilt to the backrest, which guarantees long-distance comfort. The rear bench also boasts sufficient shoulder-, leg- and headroom for even hefty individuals.

The highlight of the rear bench is its modularity. With a 60:40 split, the seatbacks can be folded down for added storage space in various loading configurations.

Powertrain Impressions

The Landtrek is powered by a 1.9-litre turbo diesel unit that produces 110 kW and 350 Nm of torque, enabling up to three tons of towing capacity and a payload that exceeds one ton. Available in either 4×2 or 4×4 configuration, the latter includes the added benefit of a rear differential with a mechanical differential lock that provides extra traction when a wheel slips. 

A Borg-Warner transfer case allows you to transfer between 2-high, 4-high and 4-low modes through a rotary dial. Together with a ground clearance of 235 mm, this equips the Landtrek with enough off-road DNA to make for a serious contender once the asphalt ends. Apart from its off-road capabilities, Peugeot promises SUV-like driving pleasures, which we are eager to experience in the near future.

For Peace of Mind

Peugeot has ensured that the Landtrek is equipped with a host of commendable safety features. The pick-up comes with six airbags and an Electronic Stability Programme that includes Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, and Trailer Swing Control. Drivers can also count on the Lane Departure Warning on the range-topping 4Action.

To compensate for the size of the vehicle, the Landtrek is fitted with rear reverse cameras and parking sensors. The off-road camera (in the passenger rear-view mirror) and 360-degree panoramic vision support the driver when negotiating obstacles or narrow lanes on the 4Action 4×4, further aided by additional front obstacle sensors.

Last Word

Peugeot’s return to the bakkie segment is no half-hearted attempt. The Landtrek is a culmination of rigorous research and development combined with a general understanding of the segment’s market demands. With Peugeot having opened 15 new dealerships in the past 18 months, it is evident that the company aims to reignite the old flame it once burned brightly in South Africa. The Landtrek seems superbly well qualified to help Peugeot in this endeavour. Prices start from R579,900.

Report by BRYAN KAYAVHU | Images © Peugeot South Africa  

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