Published on July 22nd, 2020 | by Joshua Chin1
Changan F70: A Chinese Pickup With A French Interior
Would a Chinese Peugeot pickup cut it here in Malaysia?
The Changan marque has actually been in Malaysia for a relatively long period of time already, although not many have heard of this Chinese brand before.
Brought in by the Berjaya group many years ago, Changan adopted the business model of mainly selling small commercial trucks and vans locally, much like the business model of Daihatsu here in Malaysia. However, this newly launched Changan F70 pickup may soon change that.
Marketed locally in China as the Kaicheng F70, the Changan F70 mid-sized pickup truck is actually a joint venture between Changan and the French PSA group.
First shown to the world in the 2019 Chongqing Auto Show, this French-Chinese pickup is similar in size to other double cab pickups sold here, like the Isuzu D-Max and Mitsubishi Triton.
These two Japanese pickups might also have more in common with the Changan than at first glance. Although the F70 was built in partnership with the French automotive giant, this Chinese pickup carries distinctly Japanese engines. The two 2.4 litre turbo petrol engines offered in 211 hp and 218 hp guise are a Shenyang Mitsubishi product, while the 2.5 litre turbodiesel offered in 129 hp and 150 hp flavours are plucked from Chinese market Jiangxi Isuzu D-Max.
The most desirable engine however could be the Kunming Yunnei derived 1.9 litre turbodiesel that develops 150 hp and 350 Nm of torque. Mated to a six-speed Getrag manual transmission and is available in rear or four wheel drive modes with the low range, this powertrain combination meets Euro 5 emissions standards and is set to be the best seller in the F70 range for the export market.
On the exterior, the Changan F70 looks like any other pickup truck. The styling is chunky and butch, with the Hilux Revo-esque front grille and the Changan decal across the rear tailgate. 18 inch alloy wheels wrapped in off-road tires, a rear rollover bar and shiny front skid plate further emphasises on the macho-ness of this pickup.
Overall though, apart from the front fog lamps and a few chrome trim here and there, the styling of this pickup is like any other generic pickup design out there. That is to say inoffensive and built for purpose.
Stepping inside is a different story however, as the interior of the F70 may be its main selling point. Thanks to its PSA collaboration, the interior of this pickup is thoroughly Peugeot, and may be the best interior of any pickup truck on the market today.
The Peugeot hallmarks of a floating 10 inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality and the piano keys on the centre console gives this truck a sense of French flair. The F70 pickup also comes with the French car maker’s signature two spoke multifunction steering wheel and stylish rectangular air vents.
To further add to the refined feel of the cabin, Changan claims that much work has been done to reduce the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) in the cabin of this pickup to give a car-like ambience. The only cue that this interior belongs to that of a pickup is the chunky manual gear lever.
Practicality is also abundant in the Changan F70. As a workhorse, the F70 can accommodate a payload of up to 1.2 tonnes in what Changan touts to be the ‘most accommodating’ load bay in the segment. Variants of this pickup can also tow up to 3.5 tonnes. And to the off-road enthusiasts who take their brand new pick-ups off the beaten path, the ground clearance on the F70 ranges from 214 mm to 235 mm depending on variant.
As for features, the Changan F70 also comes with the usual modern conveniences one expects from a pick-up like keyless go, adaptive cruise control, tire pressure monitoring system. This is in addition to the array of safety acronyms like airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP, traction control, self-locking differential, front collision warning, lane departure warning and hill descent control that comes standard on this pickup truck.
On sale soon in Chile as the Changan Hunter, the F70 will also soon be available in other Latin American countries, as well as across the Middle East. That being said however, Changan has only launched this pickup in regions where the Chinese car company already has some market presence and is selling other passenger-centric models there.
Realistically, if the F70 were to come to Malaysia, the inverted Acura badge of the Changan would probably be replaced by the Peugeot lion emblem. This is because the F70 is also sold in some markets like in South Africa as the Peugeot Landtrek. It is essentially the same vehicle, but now just with a more atas badge. Think Mercedes X-class and Nissan Navara, but one level down.
Peugeot already has a developed distribution network here in Malaysia so it wouldn’t be a stretch to bring this Chinese pickup to our shores. There are a few hurdles to this though. Namely that this pickup might not fit Peugeot Malaysia’s portfolio of vehicles which mainly consists of high-end premium vehicles.
More importantly though, the F70/Landtrek is not currently built anywhere in ASEAN and hence does not qualify for the tax incentives other pickups like the Thai-built Toyota Hilux or even the equally Thai-built Ford Ranger qualifies for. So if this pickup were to make it to our shores, the prices may not be as competitive as its other long established local competitors here.
And at the end of the day, there is not much point to a utilitarian workhorse of a pickup truck if the dollars and cents don’t add up.