Global automaker Tata has just launched its 2013 range of Xenon 4x4 bakkies in SA with turbodiesel engines and hugely upgraded tech. DAVE FALL reports.Tata, trading in more than 80 countries and with close to 450 000 employees after swallowing Jaguar and Land Rover just a few years ago, is one mighty company.With bragging rights as the fifth-largest truck builder and the fourth-biggest bus company globally one can begin to understand just how big the company is.Tata Xenon image galleryPhonnie Cilliers, CEO of Accordian Investments (Tata SA) reckons: “In the South African context, out of Rosslyn, Pretoria, Tata Motors Assembly produces 20 car and truck models, from hatchbacks to buses. Outside of India, from where Tata hails, South Africa is the largest consumer of Tata cars.”TURBINE TECHNOLOGYThe latest addition to the family for local consumption (the Tata brand has been trading here since 1998) is the Xenon XT range, a four-model bakkie range in single cab 4x2 (load capacity 1225 kg), single cab 4x4 (1135 kg), double cab 4x2 (1015 kg) and double cab 4x4 (975 kg) derivatives.The new XT is powered by the latest generation 2.2 VTT DiCOR (variable turbine technology, direct injection common rail) engine – the same Euro V engine that powers the Xenon range across the world – capable of peak power of 110kW at 4000rpm and peak torque of 320Nm from 1500-3000rpm.Alas, to suit local conditions, this engine has had to be tuned to meet domestic Euro II requirements because the best diesel fuel generally available in South Africa is 50ppm (parts per million) sulphur content, but once our government wakes up in the name of a cleaner environment for all and we are able to supply five ppm from fuel stations countrywide, so much the better!DOUBLE-CAB DIFF LOCKProspective buyers can expect a European-styled bakkie with satnav and Bluetooth (standard in the double cab range), two air bags, anti-lock brakes, aircon, power windows and steering assistance and rather comfortable bucket seats.There’s a limited-slip differential on the single cabs and a differential lock on the double-cabs, 4x4 can be electronically invoked “on the fly” with the flick of a switch.Style wise, the XT has a signature Tata chromed grille and attractive clear-lens headlights complemented by flared wheel arches. A set of tough-looking alloy rims, stylish pull-type door releases, indicator repeaters on the external mirrors and a choice of paint colours and car-like interiors.They combine to set this bakkie pleasantly apart from its competitors.Cilliers told Wheels24 the Xenon XT offered great value for money, ultra-reliability and cost of ownership*, complete peace of mind, advanced safety and some real style and comfort. A run through to Paarl in appalling Cape Town weather on pot-holed gravel roads and motorway alike showed his claims to be largely true.EXCELLENT CHOICEPerhaps auto automakers which offer bakkies should consider at launch loading their vehicles with a substantial amount of cargo to be able to judge just how well the vehicle performs under real-world conditions. I suspect, in the case of the XT, it could only benefit the Tata product …To summarise, I’d say the Xenon XT could well be an excellent choice for family and leisure, farming, mining, construction, small businesses and municipalities. Its perceived competent off-road capabilities could well make it an ideal vehicle for 4x4 enthusiasts – without breaking the bank. PRICES (inc. VAT) Xenon XT Single Cab 4 x 2 - R189 995Xenon XT Single Cab 4 x 4 - R245 995Xenon XT Double Cab 4 x 2 - R239 995Xenon XT Double Cab 4 x 4 - R269 995The Xenon XT comes with peace-of-mind offerings that are arguably above average, such as a five year or 90 000km service plan, four-year or 120 000km warranty, four-year of 120 000km anti-corrosion warranty and four years' unlimited km roadside assistance.*According to the latest Kinsey Report (consumer watchdog for the local motor industry) the outgoing Xenon double-cab was ranked No.1 in South Africa for two consecutive years in terms of having the most competitive parts-price basket.