Launched in recent weeks and exclusively for Middle East markets, the Ram 1200 line is expected to greatly expand the former Dodge and now standalone American truck brand’s sales and market share. Complementing Ram’s full-size, heavy duty and lifestyle range of trucks, the 1200 will provide the brand with a presence in the crucial compact pick-up truck segment, which accounts for 90% of total truck sales in the region, which as a whole comprises 13% of new vehicle sales and is set to increase.
A tough, rugged, affordable and efficient workhorse intended primarily for fleet operators and small businesses, the Ram 1200 is – like its European market Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Fiat Fullback cousin – based on the long-running, popular and well-proven Mitsubishi L200 pick-up line. An L200 in all but name and badge, the Ram 1200 is initially pitched at business users rather than a lifestyle or dual private and work vehicle, and features a choice of single or double cabin bodies, rear- or four-wheel-drive, 2.4-litre petrol and 2.5-litre turbo-diesel engines.
Available with 15- or 16-inch steel alloy wheels and visible exterior tie-down rails, the 1200 is a practical and utilitarian pick-up and runs on comparatively narrow 205R16C tyres food for comfort and off-road driving. Its design is futuristic and sporty in aesthetic, with a pod-like cabin, low and angled bonnet and long rear overhang lending it a sense of momentum. Practicality, its low bonnet provides excellent front visibility for one to confidently place it on road while its rising rear overhang allows for a generous departure angle for off-road driving.
Driven in range-topping and most capable 4×4 double cab guise with 2.5-litre common-rail turbo-diesel 4-cylinder engine, the Ram 1200 produces 134BHP at 4000rpm and 239lb/ft torque at 2000rpm. As headline figures go, this falls short of some rivals more powerful mixed-use or lifestyle oriented range-topping models, which have not yet been added to the 1200 range. However, as an honest, affordable, efficient and rugged work truck, the Ram has all the power it needs to keep up with traffic in terms of acceleration and overtaking, and more importantly for hauling and towing.
Estimated to be capable of 165km/h, the 1200 however returns frugal 7.3l/100km fuel efficiency. Somewhat lagging from idle, the 1200 is best launched off the line by progressively lifting off the clutch to build momentum towards its more generous mid-range. Meanwhile, its 5-speed manual gearbox feels crisp, close and exact by truck standards, and is a pleasure to work to keep revs in the mid-range sweet spot, given the diesel engine’s relatively low rev-limit. Smooth and relatively refined in its flexible mid-range, the 1200’s diesel clatter is more evident at idle top-end engine speeds.
The 1200’s four-wheel-drive can be engaged for driving over loose and low traction surfaces, while a low gear four-wheel-drive mode can be selected for more extreme off-road driving, where one would need to access maximum power at a crawling pace. With its somewhat narrow dimensions and low slung bonnet, the 1200 is easily maneuverable off-road. Meanwhile its 200mm ride height and shorter wheelbase to rear overhang length allows for a almost even 24° break-over and 25° departure angles. Its 30° approach and 40° side slope angles are however generous.
At its smoothest and most efficient in rear-wheel-drive mode on road, the Ram 1200 was agile and maneuverable and agile through dusty trails with light user-friendly steering and responsive and effective front disc and rear drum brakes. During test drive it felt confident and settled on highway, and with good stability. Built on a tough ladder frame with independent front double wishbone and durable live axle and leaf spring suspension it took bumps easily, but not carrying a load in its bed, felt slightly bouncy on rebound.
Balanced through corners with some lean, the 1200’s live axle leaf spring rear however doesn’t lend itself to hard acceleration through tight corners. Inside, it offers excellent front and side visibility for its class and good, if not segment-best space or access to the rear seats. Easy to drive and with well-positioned gear lever, the 1200 also offers comfortable seats and a alert driving position with tilt-adjustable steering and big side mirrors. Controls, functions and buttons are clear and user-friendly, while storage spaces are useful.
Utilitarian yet comfortable inside, the Ram 1200’s cabin is un-fussed and intuitive, and features tough hard wearing hard plastics and trim, and fabric upholstery. Standard equipment usefully includes power steering, body coloured bumpers, front skid plate front towing hook, tachometer, rear head restraints and three-point side seatbelts, and other features. Optional and package equipment includes heavy duty air conditioning electronic stability control, hill start assistance, ABS brakes, drive and passenger airbags, electric windows, tyre pressure monitoring, power central locking and 4-speaker audio system, among other equipment.
- Engine: 2.5-litre, in-line, common-rail turbo-diesel, 4-cylinders
- Bore x stroke: 91.1 x 95mm
- Compression ratio: 17:1
- Valve-train: 16-valve, DOHC
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual, four-wheel-drive
- Driveline: low gear transfer
- Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 134 (136)  @4000rpm
- Specific power: 51BHP/litre
- Power-to-weight: 74.4BHP/tonne
- Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 239 (324) @2000rpm
- Specific torque: 130.8Nm/litre
- Torque-to-weight: 180Mn/litre
- Top speed apprx. 165km/h (est.)
- Fuel consumption, combined: 7.3-litres/100km
- Fuel capacity: 75-litres
- Length: 5370mm
- Width: 1785mm
- Height: 1775mm
- Wheelbase: 3000mm
- Minimum ground clearance: 200mm (est.)
- Loading floor height: 845mm
- Approach angle: 30°
- Break-over angle: 24°
- Departure angle: 25°
- Side slope angle: 45°
- Kerb weight: 1800kg
- Gross vehicle weight: 2850kg
- Suspension, F/R: Double wishbones / live axle, leaf springs
- Steering: Power-assisted rack & pinion
- Turning circle: 11.8-meters
- Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs / drums
- Tyres: 205R16C