INDIAN car maker TATA has unleashed its new bakkie on the South African market.

The new Tata Xenon was launched last week in Johannesburg in a one-engine model, the 2,2-litre DLE (diesel).

Compared with previous Tata products there is a great improvement in the Xenon.

The Xenon demonstrates Tata's future intentions. The Tata folk also admit that it will not take long before technology used in Jaguar and Land Rover products is applied to Tata cars.

This could see Tata move up in the ranks of the tough motor industry.

The Xenon's appearance is particularly pleasing. It could be a Toyota Hilux or Ford Ranger, though the interior build quality is still not up to the standards of the former.

The Xenon is fitted with some of the latest technological features found in the big brands.

The new Xenon also offers new comfort and convenience features. It is a car that is evolving to become even more relevant in the dual-purpose vehicle segment than ever before, bringing supreme versatility to the SA market at a peerless value point, according to Tata SA.

The new 2,2-litre Direct Injection Common Rail turbocharged and intercooled diesel four-cylinder delivers both the power and refinement expected of new-generation diesel powerplants, developing 103kW at 4000rpm and 320Nm of torque spread between 1700 - 2700rpm engine speeds.

All-wheel-drive models feature electronic, on-the-fly switching as well as a low-range transfer case and self-locking hubs at the front, with a Limited Slip Differential to further improve traction on the rear wheels in all conditions.

In addition to the upgraded engine technology, the new Xenon also features exterior styling enhancements which meld expertly into an overall shape which is beefier, sturdier, and more appealing.

New front and rear fog lamps are available depending on the specification level to further enhance the visual impact of the Xenon from outside, while a solid tubular rear bumper with integrated step gives the vehicle a more imposing rear-end appearance while providing practical loading benefits as well.

Chunky side-steps are also available as optional extras.

The Xenon is equipped with air-conditioner, electric windows, powered and heated mirrors, and a radio-CD-player audio system complete with versatile USB port.