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That’s right, Tata is back! After an almost seven-year hiatus, DRB-Hicom Commercial Vehicles (formerly USF-Hicom) has revived the Indian brand in Malaysia, with a distinct commercial focus.

Unveiled at an event yesterday was the Tata Xenon pick-up truck. The Telcoline successor is not officially on sale yet in Malaysia, but a RM60k-80k estimated price range was revealed at the press conference, with official prices set to be announced next month.

Six fully-imported-from-Thailand (CBU) variants will be available for commercial use, all of which have a 2.2 litre DICOR turbodiesel four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual gearbox.

The motor, featuring common-rail direct injection and variable-geometry turbocharging, develops 140 PS at 4,000 rpm and 320 Nm of torque between 1,700 and 2,700 rpm.

Common to all variants are a 3,150 mm wheelbase, ABS, EBD, power steering, power windows (auto down for driver) and rear fog lamps. Airbags are not fitted, but they aren’t required for commercial vehicles in Malaysia yet – we’re told the private-use Xenon, with the required safety features (and hopefully more kit!), could be introduced at a later juncture.

Brakes are a front-disc, rear-drum affair, and suspension is handled by double wishbones up front and leaf springs (semi-elliptical for Single Cab, parabolic for the rest) out back.

We’ll start with the Single Cab, of which 4×2 and 4×4 variants will be available. The Single Cab features a 2.5 m x 1.72 m x 0.382 m steel flat-bed with drop sides that can carry up to 1.2 tonnes. The front grille, bumpers, wing mirrors and exterior door handles are unpainted black, and the wheels are 16-inch capped steel items wrapped in 215/75 series tubeless tyres.

Next is the Space Cab, of which only one 4×2 variant will be available. Due to the longer cab, its flat-bed is 450 mm shorter than the Single Cab’s. Apart from that, it is identically-equipped to the Single Cab.

The Double Cab is available in 4×2 Standard, 4×4 Basic and 4×4 Premium variants. The 4×4 Basic gets a chrome grille, body-coloured bumpers, body-coloured LED indicator wing mirrors, an aluminium underguard, a rear step bumper and 16-inch alloys shod in all-terrain 235/70 series rubber.

As far as we can tell, the 4×2 Standard and 4×4 Premium Double Cab variants differ only in their drive configurations. They get all the 4×4 Basic has, plus front fog lamps, a bedliner and aluminium side steps. White, black and silver body colours are available, as is a two-year/40,000 km warranty.

Also available is the Tata Prima prime mover – the huge tractor unit is offered in 4038.S 4×2 and 4938.S 6×4 versions. Providing drive is a 370 hp/1,550 Nm 8.8 litre Cummins ISLe 375 diesel engine and a nine-speed Eaton-FSO manual gearbox.

Prices were revealed to be RM270k for the 4×2 and RM320k for the 6×4, and we’re told 17 confirmed orders for the prime mover have been received to date.

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Over the next few years, Tata and DHCV are set to enter Malaysia’s commercial vehicle market in a big way – first, they plan to locally-assemble (CKD) the Tata Ultra light truck in Pekan next year and possibly export it to other ASEAN markets.

In future, all commercial segments will be penetrated, including pick-up, light-, medium- and heavy-trucks, prime movers and buses. We understand that there are no plans to venture into passenger vehicles for now, so put aside those Nano dreams.

As for after-sales, over RM10 million will be spent on a new 3S centre in Selayang (with technical support from Tata) as well as to expand the dealer network from the current nine to 21 dealers nationwide in the next couple of years. Presently, there are three dealers in the Klang Valley, three in Johor, one in Perak, one in Negeri Sembilan and one in Sabah.