Most 4x4 offerings nowadays look more suited for the catwalk than the highway.
They gleam with chrome and stainless steel, they shine with metallic paint and they come with enough stylish extras to sink the ark.
But there is nothing fancy about the new Tata TL double cab pick-up, including the rock bottom price of £11,357 ex-VAT.
While the likes of Mitsubishi, Toyota, Ford and Isuzu aim for the ‘hairdresser’ end of the market, the Indian manufacturer is looking to tempt the buyer who wants practicality rather than looks.
The new model is being imported under an arrangement with MG Rover’s owners and single-cab and double-cab 2x4 and 4x4 versions are on offer.
All feature a 2.0-litre intercooled turbodiesel powerplant offering 89bhp at 4,300rpm and 140lb-ft of torque at 2,500rpm and all have a one tonne payload.
Warranty is three years/60,000 miles.
The UK’s van press were invited to Longbridge at the back end of last year to view the new TL pick-up models.
Some of Tata’s top executives flew in from India and we were all left impressed with the gleaming models on show.
They looked the business, with chunky wheels and silver metallic paint, and the speakers on the day told a convincing fleet story.
And indeed, when the test model arrived at my house, it didn’t look half bad either.
It has that chunky macho styling of other models such as the Mitsubishi L200, Nissan Navara and Ford Ranger and features large plastic protectors on the wheelarches and a massive chunk of metal under the front bumper to protect all the four-wheel drive gubbins underneath if the going gets really rough.
It’s not until you get close up that the problems start to show up...
In the front
Opening the door is courtesy of central locking (not remote) and it is then you’ll discover that the door panel is paper thin and flimsy in the extreme.
Once inside, the interior looks cheap and tacky and all the knobs and switches feel as though they might snap off at any time.
The driver’s seat is surprisingly comfortable with good lumbar support but there isn’t enough travel on the chair to give adequate legroom to anyone over about 5ft 8in.
As I stand over 6ft in my bare feet, it was torture driving this vehicle.
On the plus side, there is a good quality Clarion stereo radio/cassette player and a fair amount of legroom for rear seat passengers.
Add-on extras include a towbar at £102, navigation system at £723 and fire extinguisher at £18 (prices ex-VAT)
In the back
If the front is flimsy, there is certainly nothing lacking at the business end of this vehicle.
It feels hugely strong, with a massive tailgate that slams shut like the gates of Fort Knox, and there are six load-lashing eyes and a tubular protection frame behind the cab.
Load area measures 1,500mm in length and 1,410mm in width.
A range of Truckman tops are available to cover the load area at between £894 and £1,088 ex-VAT and a load liner at £132 is indispensable in my view.