FORD MAVERICK T hough the familiar blue oval adorns the grille
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and the airbagequipped steering wheel this is of course a re-badged Nissan, built under a joint verdure agreement in Nissan's Spanish plant (the Maverick car is also available as a Nissan Terrano II).
But Ford has decided to go the van route alone, using the shortwheelbase diesel-powered Maverick as the donor vehicle. With a list price of El 4,520 (ex-VAT) it sits nicely between the Land Rover and the Daihatsu.
The Maverick is powered by a rather thirsty 2.7-litre Nissan turbo-diesel which pushes out a reasonable 99hp (74kW) at 4,000rpm. More importantly for a four-wheel drive, the Maverick has a healthy 163114t (221Nm) of torque at a lowly 2,200rpm.
Its instantly obvious that the Maverick was designed to be as carlike as possible, with a lower, more reclined seating position and lighter, user-friendly controls. Up front nothing has changed from the car specification. The driver gets an airbag, comfortable clothtrimmed seats and
door panels; a decent stereo, and electric windows and mirrors.
At the back the single-piece door opens to reveal a reasonable load space with a length of 1,130mm, width between the wheel arches of 1,030mm and a height of 990mm. Allowing 75k9 for the driver the Maverick can handle a reasonable 545kg of pay
But it is at this point that some 4x4 vans Fall down: because the van has to be based on the three-door version of the Maverick it has the short-wheelbase chassis, even though a longer wheelbase, and its higher payload, would have been more practical for a load car the Maverick's load bay is easily accessible, despite a wide and foolishly body coloured step cum bumper. A half-height solid bulkhead is standard, as is a loadbed floor covering. Decent tie-down points however are not, but our test vehicle came Fitted with the optional mesh upper bulkhead section For added driver security.
Out on the road the Maverick was everything we had expected: well behaved, quiet, reasonably quick and just like a car to drive. Despite its extra ground clearance the Maverick's torsion-bar and wishbone suspension at the front and coil sprung rear axle coped well with our van route.
Anti-roll bars at both ends prevent too much wallowing during corners so you can press on at a fair rate across country. This is no bad thing as once you have let the speed drop it takes some time to build again, although the gearbox works well, with a sensibly choice of ratios.
The Maverick handled the first of our timed hill climbs, on the M20 Kingsdown Hill section, with ease, romping up in fifth gear at the legal limit. It was just a few seconds off the Daihatsu's pace on the A20 hill section, again pulling top gear at the steepest point. That said the driveline wins no competitions for efficiency when it comes to fuel consumption. Of the three vehicles in our group the was the thirstiest, drinking a gallon of diesel every 25.9 miles (10.91(it/100km), which isn't very impressive at all. Though its well-mannered behaviour on the road cameos no surprise (the standard Maverick is after all a decent 4x4 car) we had our reservations about taking it onto the rough—and were pleasantly surprised because the Maverick proved, to be an exceptional performer around the MOD's Long Valley test course. Its suspension soaked up all but the worst bumps on rough tracks with ease, and its short wheelbase helped provide good entry and exit angles for serious off-roading, The payload is easily accessible, but were not convinced by that step cum bumper. The relaxed, torquey nature of the engine really shone through too, working well with the low ratio gears to pull up the steepest climbs and hold the vehicle back on the worst descents. Though biased towards road use, the standard Pirelli tyres coped well with this work while the steering was direct and well damped, offering a steady helm through ruts and dips. The Maverick's only problems came on the deepest of holes when the limited ground clearance was used up and there was some grounding over higher mounds of earth. We encountered no really deep mud on this test but the Maverick is equipped with a limited-slip differential in the rear axle which should pull it through all but the worst conditions.