Don’t trip yourself up trying to pronounce this brand’s name — either sound out the letters or go the easy route and call it bike (it’s BAIC, okay?). We recommend you get used to the Chinese automaker’s name because it’s ramping up investment in South Africa. In the same vein, it just announced its big, beefy off-roader, called the BAIC B40 Plus.
We spent some time with the BAIC B40 Plus this week, and can confirm that it’s a valid entrant into the small 4×4 category in South Africa. It also comes in somewhat cheaper than its competitors — a nice surprise for those keen on an off-roader at a more affordable price.
But that’s really not all the B40 Plus has going for it — depending on your needs, of course. Let’s unpack some of the B40’s features, how it handles and how it compares to other entrants.
Not the BAIC you expected
BAIC has been active in South Africa since 2016 and recently established a manufacturing facility in Port Elizabeth equipped to produce vehicles for export. So it clearly means business.
The same goes for the B40 Plus, which gives off Jeep Wrangler vibes. The vehicle’s body features hard angles, exaggerated fittings and a removable top on all models. It comes in a variety of colour options, including Ice White, Onyx Black, Desert Red, Military Green, Forest Green, Sky Blue, and Ocean Blue.
What’s more, the B40 Plus is a descendant of a military vehicle. The brand prides itself in the vehicle’s durability and rugged features, having tested them across thousands of kilometres. It’s got a ground clearance of 210mm, a selectable 4WD system, rear differential lock and even a parking control rear camera system. The infotainment system functions fairly well. You’ll just miss navigation, which is absent in all models.
We found traction control to kick in quite aggressively when hitting uneven terrain — something that’s bound to produce an initial shock. We bet you can get used to it if you have to. Some of the interior finishes felt cheaply made and lacked finesse, including the addition of BJ40 badges (which is the moniker given to this one in its home country).
Its offroad capabilities are good, while the diesel variant does feel a tad underpowered at critical inclines. It handles wonderfully on road, though, so city slickers who like to look rough and tough are welcome to park a B40 Plus in their driveway in Fourways.
The B40 plus is available in two main flavours, with a few derivatives. Those two are: a 2.0-litre petrol turbo automatic transmission or a 2.0-litre turbo diesel manual transmission. The petrol engine produces 160kW while the diesel manages 110kW.
BAIC B40 Plus pricing and availability
These offroaders are the epitome of ‘utility meets style’. They come in a massive range of colour options (and all of them look good), come with individually removable tops (driver x passenger) and some funky interior touches. If BAIC knows what’s good for it, they’ll launch these with personalisable Call of Duty-inspired vinyl designs for the sides. It’ll make a killing.
The B40 PLUS starts at R549,500 and goes up to R629,500 for the top-of-the-range option, depending on your chosen spec.