By Wan’gombe Kibunja
The Probox is one of the most infamous vehicle in Kenya. It is associated with erratic driving, illegal PSV business, smuggling, escape car for robbers, muguka transport business, dreaded police squads and all manner of negative assertions are made in relation to this car. Nevertheless, the Toyota Probox is a very common and practical car. The spacious boot thanks to the folding rear seats makes it ideal for small business owners as a delivery van. The Probox has a worthy competitor in the form of the Nissan AD van. The AD van is also not shy to controversy with its resale value being its biggest infamy, the vehicle is harder to sell than finding a honest politician. The offers you will get will disappoint you but the vehicle will have served you well for the period of time you will own it. Both the Toyota Probox and Nissan AD van have commuter versions which are the Toyota succeed and Nissan Wingroad which are basically cosmetic enhancements of the two. To get a clear winner on which of the two is the ultimate small van for business owners here is a head to head comparison of the two.
When buying a vehicle for business purposes the size of the boot will be the major factor, how much space do you have and how much luggage can you cram into the vehicle. The Toyota Probox has a wheel base of 100.4inches which is only 0.4 inches longer than the AD van. The Nissan, however, is a few inches bigger with a length of 173 inches and a width of 66.7 inches compared to the Probox which has a Width of 165.2 inches and a similar width of 66.7 inches. The height is also similar with the Probox standing at 59.6 inches, nearly half an inch taller than the AD van. The two vehicles are practically the same size, although when it comes to load capacity, the Probox is designed to carry a maximum 400kg load whereas the AD van is designed to carry a maximum of 450kgs. Considering the most common modifications done to these cars in Kenya which is adding heavy duty suspension then the two can carry a bit heavier loads but still the AD van can handle more weight compared to the Probox.
With the ability to carry a heavier load being the pivot point as we evaluate these two cars the power production is something to look at. The Probox comes in with three engine sizes, 1300cc 2NZ-FE inline four petrol engine, 1400cc 1ND-TV D4D inline four Diesel engine or the 1500cc 1NZ-fe inline four Petrol; engine which are mated to either an Automatic or manual transmission with a 2 wheel drive or 4wheel drive option. The Probox produces 84 horsepower and 121Nm of torque at 4400rpm on the 1300cc petrol engine and 109horsepower and 141Nm of torque at 4200rpm for the 1500cc petrol engine. The diesel variant of the Probox although very rare is equipped with a turbocharger giving it a power output of 89 horsepower and 205Nm of torque at 2800rpm. The Nissan comes with 4 engine options, the 1200cc CR12DE inline four petrol engine which provides 87horsepower and 137 nm of torque, the 150cc HR15DE inline four petrol engine which has an output of 157 horsepower and 270Nm of torque, 1600cc HR16DE inline four petrol engine which outputs 157 horsepower and 270Nm of torque and lastly the 1800cc MR18DE inline four petrol engine which produces 122 horsepower and 174Nm of torque making it the most uneconomical engine option for the AD van but is common in the commuter version, the Wingroad. The Nissan Ad van comes in with a e4WD system which gives it an edge over the Probox in terms of power output and power delivery. The Nissan Beats the Toyota in this since the AD van received an engine update in 2008 while the Toyota received the update in 2018.
When it comes to aesthetics, Japanese budget cars come awfully close to doodle sketches by a 5 year old, you take a look at the car and wonder who had offended the designer, or how on earth did this make into production? Then you remember the Japanese cartoons have an obsession with big eyes and unproportioned looking characters. Where am I going with this? The Nissan AD van looks like something you would see in a Japanese comic book, the headlights look out of place, they are humongous but they at the least help it get the rounded external look. The rounded boot makes it look less boring but again the lights look out of place. The Probox on the other hand looks just as the name suggests a Box. The edges are straight there is no inspiration when you look at it, actually it stands out as a very boring car, the flat rear doesn’t help much in redeeming its looks. The interior in both are bland although the AD van offers a more appealing interior with supporting seats and overall ergonomics. The Probox focuses on function so the drivers comfort is considered a luxury just offering rudimental seats and basic standard features in the interior.
Fuel consumption and reliability.
The Probox offers fuel economy of 15km per litre of petrol on the 1500cc engine, and 18km per litre in the 1300cc petrol engine. The diesel variant is the most fuel efficient engine in the lineup giving you 23km per litre of diesel. The Nissan AD van offers fuel economy of between 13km per litre to 17kms per litre based on the engine selected. The reliability of the two vehicles will go back to how you maintain the two, the Nissan requires you to observe the servicing periods and user manual to the letter, when you observe them cost of operating the Nissan becomes lower than doing the same on the Probox, but the Probox can take in a huge deal of abuse hence why it seems to be cheaper to maintain.
The price range of the two is not that much different when importing, you can get the Nissan AD van for Kshs 650,000 for a 2013 model and the Toyota Probox 2013 model for Kshs 685,000. Now when it comes to older models you will find a Probox 2009 model selling at Kshs 550,000 while a 2009 model Nissan AD Van will be selling at Kshs 400,000.
If you want to build your business with a vehicle that will serve you well then the Nissan Ad van takes the day, the vehicle has more power, can carry a bigger load and is more comfortable for long distance travels. If you set aside the stereotype that the Nissan is an inferior car and look at the bigger picture you will understand why the Nissan AD van is more popular in Japan than the Probox.