Daihatsu Fourtrak TDX

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Keywords: Daihatsu Fourtrak TDX, daihatsu fourtrak car review by jason dawe

Description: Daihatsu Fourtrak car Review by Jason Dawe

My friend Rob is trying to buy a car. I say trying because he hasn’t had much luck. Admittedly his requirements are pretty specific. The car must be able to tow a horsebox, carry a couple of sheep and drive across a beach. But most importantly it must never go wrong, which according to Rob immediately discounts a Land Rover Discovery, Freelander or Defender. But there is a car that I can recommend to him: the Daihatsu Fourtrak.

Aimed firmly at farmers, it’s a proper rufty-tufty off-roader — a vehicle that’s bought because of what it can do, not how it looks.

And Daihatsu’s logic appears to have worked. Since its introduction to Britain in the 1980s the Fourtrak has firmly resisted the temptation to become trendy or pretentious. It has remained a hardcore 4x4. It as all the right bits and pieces for those off-piste activities; high and low ratio gearbox; a large, lazy diesel engine; and bulletproof reliability.

Since 1994 the Fourtrak has come with just one engine option, a gruff four-cylinder 2.8 litre turbo diesel. Originally this produced 101bhp, but thanks to tightening emission regulations this fell to just 97bhp in 1996. With nearly 1,800kg to move and the aerodynamics of a breeze block, it’s no sports car. The 0-60mph time of 19sec isn’t good, and neither is the top speed. Downhill with a following wind, a Fourtrak will struggle to hit 90mph.

None of this will bother Rob. He never drives quickly, instead he looks out at scudding clouds, cattle and freshly cut grass. Like most Fourtrak owners, he rarely travels far without a trailer in tow or a calf in the boot.

But there are some problems associated with a second-hand Fourtrak. First, it’s not the mileage that should concern you, it’s what it has been doing during those miles. Drive 10,000 miles with a fully laden horsebox in tow and you’ll put the transmission, brakes and suspension under the same wear as 30,000 miles of motorway cruising. If a towbar is fitted (or looks like it has just been removed), ask what it has been towing. A horsebox may be heavy but launching a jet ski in axle-deep salt water won’t have done the vehicle many favours either.

Many original owners may well have been handy with a spanner, so a main dealer service history can be a rare commodity. It’s essential to take any Fourtrak out for a decent test drive before parting with any cash. The gearbox and clutch should feel light and precise. Steering should also feel reasonably light, although you will find that the turning circle isn’t too impressive and that cornering at virtually any speed generates a fair bit of body roll.

The interior is designed to handle abuse. A few left the factory with leather upholstery but most came with a more practical hardwearing cloth. On the dash you’ll find the essential off-road dials, an inclinometer that detects the angle of tilt, a voltmeter and temperature gauge. On higher spec TDX models you’ll also find electric windows, central locking and an adjustable steering column.

So if you fancy joining Rob in the Daihatsu owners’ club you have my blessing. In a world where 4x4s are starting to drive like luxury saloons and luxury saloons are performing like sports cars it’s nice to find a car that does what it says on the tin.



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