1 Feb 2003
By CHRIS HARRIS
ONLY Subaru could have foreseen the big sales potential of a small front-wheel drive passenger car redesigned as a handy little utility.
After all, its 1970s Mk1 Leone-based Brumby is a legend among ute fans, with even tired examples commanding extremely high prices – even though the last one was discontinued in Australia in 1994.
Something akin to this is what Malaysia’s Proton aimed to achieve when it introduced the Jumbuck utility to Australia in early 2003.
The Jumbuck was designed for those Asian, North African and Middle Eastern markets where small traders need cargo space but also want a sedan-like vehicle for their personal transport.
Clearly the Jumbuck is not quite a Brumby, as it lacks the part-time dual-purpose four-wheel drive that so endeared the Subaru to rural buyers.
But in all other areas it matches the Brumby - including the Jumbuck's 1980s engineering.
After all, the donor car is the ancient Proton Persona hatchback, which started life out as the Mitsubishi Mirage and Lancer in late 1991.
Jumbucks are a marriage of the monocoque construction of the Persona hatchback to a ladder frame chassis supporting the utility tray. A torque box has been fashioned to provide the body with the required stiffness.
It is front-wheel drive with front disc brakes and strut front suspension. The rear suspension is a beam axle, a load-sensing valve and leaf springs. Rear brakes are drums.
The base Jumbuck GLi includes factory air-conditioning, power steering, central locking and remote key entry.
The higher spec GLSi adds power windows, cloth seats, improved audio, alloy wheels and metallic two-tone paint.
Both are powered by a 64kW/120Nm 1.5-litre single-cam 8-valve Mitsubishi-derived four-cylinder unit mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. There is no automatic and no airbags.
For 2007 PROTON Cars Australia added a tub-liner and towbar (worth a claimed $1200 combined) to its Jumbuck ute range, which continues from $16,990 drive-away.