Peugeot Landtrek Review: Allure Double Cab 4x2

  Colin Windell


 14 Feb, 2022

It is a very brave call for anyone to enter the highly contested – and congested – double cab bakkie market in South Africa, where history has quite firmly entrenched brand loyalty and newcomers are often viewed with some suspicion.

Although the initial announcement of the Peugeot Landtrek did come as something of surprise perhaps, to some, the bigger surprise was the history the French brand has in South Africa and the rest of Africa with previous versions of a one-ton bakkie.

One of the oldest car brands in the world, Peugeot entered the pick-up market in 1938 with the introduction of the Peugeot 202 U Camionnette / Bâchée. A small number of these 202 pick-ups were imported to South Africa after World War II, most of them being redundant former French military stock. 

They were not even re-painted but landed here in their matt army green coats with the hope to invade a bakkie-market dominated by large American trucks. Only one of these vintage 202s still exists in South Africa, where it forms part of an owner's private collection. 

Following the imported 202, Peugeot released car models of the locally manufactured 203. National Motor Assemblers, part of the Stanley Motors Group, started assembling 203 cars at Natalspruit industrial site in Alberton, south of Johannesburg in 1950. Although there was a 203 pick-up manufactured in France until 1960, they were not for sale in South Africa. 

The 403 model followed in 1956 and was the next Peugeot pick-up to appear on the market. Only a handful of these models are reportedly left in the country today, in the collections of classic car enthusiasts. 

Further north in Africa, Peugeot’s success story in Nigeria supposedly began with 100 privately imported Peugeot 403s back in the late 1950s. 

When its successor, the 404 pick-up appeared, Peugeot’s pick-ups began leaving deep tracks in Africa. It was hugely popular in South Africa and throughout the rest of the continent where it became a faithful workhorse on farms, at small business and across various industries. It was not uncommon to see large industrial projects, like the building of the Sishen–Saldanha iron ore railway line and export harbour, to solely run on Peugeot 404 wheels. 

In its heyday, the 404 pick-up was found from Cape Town to Cairo and everywhere in between, because of its ability to go anywhere in Africa. The 404 series was also locally assembled at Natalspruit industrial site in Alberton.

While the 404 cars were manufactured until 1978 in South Africa, the 404 pick-ups stuck around for longer, being produced in Kenya until 1991. 

The Peugeot 504 was also available in a pick-up model, but never came to the South African market. 

It was produced in Kenya until 2004 and Nigeria until 2006. So tough were these 504 pick-ups they could be entered, with minimal mechanical adjustment, into the notorious African off-road rallies, winning the 1984 African Rally Championship and, at the same time, writing the Peugeot 504 pick-up into the rally rankings forever.

And, if you thought a Peugeot double cab will be a first in history for Peugeot, the company built a four-door double cab 504 pick-up in China and Argentina in the 80s.

My own appreciation of the 404, albeit not in bakke form but as an automatic sedan, goes back to a Caledon Raft Race in 1975. Heavy rain the night before turned the best viewing/photographic spot into a quagmire. I had the 404 on test and was seriously worried about getting out of the morass where high-end 4x4s of the time were simply bogging down in the mud.

But, no worries! On skinny tyres and a heart of gold, the little 404 simply skated its way (mostly sideways) through the ooze and out onto the road. 

South Africa is an important market for Peugeot. The brand has opened 15 new dealerships in the past 18 months and some 80% of the passenger car range has been refreshed in the last year alone, launching the new 2008 in February (the 2021 South African Car of the Year), 3008 facelift in April, new 208 in May, and now the Landtrek double cab bakkie.

The vertical grille with the Lion in the centre and vertical LED light signatures, immediately identifies it as a Peugeot, while the subtle lines along the flanks give it an elegant look that does not detract from ‘workhorse’ intimation. 

As well as being robust and practical above all, the Peugeot Landtrek also provides its passengers with comfort and functionality. Special attention is paid to the three rear passengers, with backrests tilted to 23° for even greater comfort.

The backrest of the rear bench seat can be folded in 60/40 or 100%. In addition, the rear seat cushions can also tip-up in a 60/40 split to allow for numerous and flexible loading configurations. When folded down, the backrests can support a load of up to 100 kg. In addition, two ISOFIX fasteners ensure the safety and docking of child seats. 

At the front, stylish and comfortable independent seats offer a central armrest. The passenger compartment is spacious and comfortable, with 1 550 mm wide shoulder room in row two and a knee space of at least 50 mm.

The new Peugeot Landtrek features advanced connectivity, automatic dual zone air-conditioning, 10-inch' HD touch screen compatible Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and 10 GB hard drive. 

Safety is ensured by six airbags and an Electronic Stability Programme that includes Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist and Trailer Swing Control that acts automatically as soon as the trailer veers out of line. 

Headlights are LED units and conveniently on large double cab bakkies, the Landtrek is fitted with a rear reverse camera as well as parking sensors. 

Landtrek is powered by a 1,9-litre turbodiesel that develops 110 kW thanks to a variable turbine geometry and torque of 350 Nm.

At low revs the turbodiesel was a little sluggish and sounded quite agricultural. Hopefully something Peugeot can fix – because, once the turbo kicks in and the revs rise, the engine becomes quite smooth and it gets up and goes quite happily, sustaining set speeds with no problem even in undulating territory.

It has up to 235 mm of ground clearance so even the two-wheel drive version is good to go off the beaten track. Belting around some of the sugar cane roads in KwaZulu-Natal, the Landtrek proved remarkably stable on rutted roads, even with no load on board.

Equally, on tarmac it had no ill-manners, the double wishbone front suspension with leaf springs at the rear providing the right balance between ‘soft-roading’ as a daily commuter vehicle and soaking up the rougher stuff off the main roads.

The hardened ‘other makes’ fans at that watering hole I rarely visit, were forced to concede the Landtrek was a handsome beast, and the interior was, well…better than their chosen steeds.

The Peugeot Landtrek is covered by a 5-year/100 000 km Warranty and Service Plan with maintenance intervals every 10 000 km.

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