To Bongo or not to bongo

Anything non-technical about the Mazda Bongo Friendee van

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BongoGlory
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To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by BongoGlory » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:08 pm

Hello everyone.

May I apologise in advance for yet another newbie asking the same old questions. But please humour me and read my ramblings.

I have a friend who has recently bought a T5 transporter with the intention of doing the day van thing. My boss has a T4 which he has converted into a day van. Both tell me how wonderful they are etc, now I have the itch.

I am here at BongoFury for a few reasons, firstly, I don't want to follow the crowd and buy a VW, secondly the price of the VW's is IMO absured. And thirdly I am a fan of japanese cars. So I'm here looking for guidance.
I have been spent the last few months doing bits of research etc, reading a lot of threads on here from people in the same boat as me etc, but I think maybe I have read so much that I'm a bit confused and conflicted as to what to do.

So my situation is this, I live in Exeter, Devon. There are loads of great places to explore locally. The van would be my main transport and I do a variety of driving. A bit of city/town driving, A and B road driving and occasional motorway driving. Last year I clocked up 7k miles.
For the most part the van will for me to get to a-b. I play in a football team so I might make the most of the seats and use it as a team bus some weekends.
Then, when the weather is good use it to go for a night camping somewhere pretty with the Gf and her daughter.

So for the van itself, one other reason I'm interested in the bongo, is I really think the later models look great. So I'd ideally like either a griphite grey or black late model.
I think I'd start with a tin-top and have an aftermarket roof fitted later depending on how I get on with the van.

Now, with that criteria, I believe I'm unlikely to find a Diesel which leaves me with the petrol options. I am fully aware that whatever Bongo I chose the fuel consumption is bad!!. But having spoken to a bloke who works at a very very local dealership (more on that in a mo) he was telling me that 100% he would have the v6. He claims the v6 is as economical if not better then the 2.0L. because the 2.0L is underpowered and always working very hard etc.
Now I'm in my early thirties, and whilst my days of lowered Vtec Honda's are behind me, I still want to be able to drive at the national speed limit without killing my engine prematurely and also as a daily drive want it to be as eco as possible, yet I don't want motorway journeys to be a chore (I'm happy to sit at 70, but no slower) So advise in this area would be appreciated.
Also, can anyone tell me, will a tin-top fit in a standard up and over garage? As this would certainly help appease the neighbours (I already have a LWB Peugeot Boxer as a work van)

So should I decide to take the plunge, as I mentioned previously, there is a garage in Exeter that import bongos, elgrands etc in huge volumes. They clean them up very nicely, and they are relatively cheap. (Just seen an 06' graphite, aero tin top with only 59K, which they sold for "no more than £6k")
Now I am aware that if something looks too good to be true then it probably is. But living within 45mins of Allan's I am wondering if I were to buy a van locally then take it straight to Allan's if that might be as good as buying from a more reputable dealer. As even the most reputable dealer won't see the actual van until it docks.

So. The question I am really asking is, am I stupid for considering buying a bongo? I'm leaning towards thinking, the negatives (running and maintenance costs) might outweigh the pros (good looks and oh so practical)
Am I better off keeping my brilliant Yaris and buying a tent?

Apologies for the life story, but I figure, the more info I give you, the better the advice will be.

Ta
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Doone
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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by Doone » Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:47 pm

Hello. :)

My favourite Bongo body shape is the Aero (City Runner). I reckon it could even tempt your VW owning buddies. 8)

The engine torques do vary so it's worth considering how your Bongo's going to be used. There's some useful reading mixed up in the posts on this search. http://igmaynard.co.uk/bongo/forum/sear ... e+Power%2A

All Bongos need regular maintenance, regardless of the engine type, so factor in those costs. The cambelt change interval is every 60,000 miles and the servicing interval is every 6,000 miles.
The cambelt and servicing parts cost more for the V6 than the 2 5d and the 2.0 is the cheapest.

Allan can carry out an inspection on your Bongo and has plenty of customers from your area.
Trading Standards Registered garage: http://www.allansvehicleservices.co.uk
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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by mikeonb4c » Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:01 pm

Welcome. For lugging the football team around it has to be the v6 i think. More to watch out for than the 2l but loads more oomph. Cambelt change cost, camshaft seals, noisy hydraulic valve lifters, ignition system are all v6 issues to read up on (Allan's/Doone can advise) but overall they're solid enough engines. Diesel best for grunt though later diesel pumps and turbos more expensive i think if they play up. But 4wd only available with diesel of course. Heresy to suggest this, but are Elgrands also worth considering and researching for reliability etc. Bongo narrower than VW of course so bed more narrow but that's what makes it makes it much less hassle down narrow lanes, along with the fab autobox. Then there's the electric blinds, i love them :-) Happy hunting, can't really go wrong if you get friendly with Allan's. 8)
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BongoGlory
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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by BongoGlory » Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:29 pm

Im completely open minded to alternatives, but the Elgrand is as thirsty as a bongo, but without the looks.
I saw a Nissan Largo today, but they seem to be few and far between and upon a quick search, seem to also be poor on fuel.
I can't for the life of me understand why the Bongo hasn't been introduced to the European market with a more modern fuel efficient engine.
I guess the thing to do is go to said local garage and test drive a 2.0L and a V6.
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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by Bob » Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:41 pm

Welcome aboard. :D

Bongo production ceased after a fire at the factory, Mazda decided not to rebuild as the vehicle was already dated (by car makers standards).
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BongoGlory
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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by BongoGlory » Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:09 pm

As far as maintenance goes, is it a case of getting them serviced annually or do they require more day to day maintenance?
Also I've seen people mentioning Low Coolant Alarms. Are they recommended for all bongos or is it a diesel specific thing?
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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by Scratch » Sat Apr 15, 2017 5:19 pm

Obvious, but it is dependent on the vehicle you buy. I have a 2002 2L petrol which I do have serviced once a year by a Bongo specialist. Apart from checking the tyres, water and oil I haven't had to do anything else (never had to top up water or oil either). I did get a low coolant alarm fitted when I bought the vehicle just for peace of mind. I did read this forum for a long time before taking the plunge and I was worried about mechanical issues and because of this bought a petrol. Like others have commented before, this forum is a mine of great help and information but most people are looking for advice when they encounter a problem, but I am sure the majority are like me and have very few issues with their bongos.
One other point - I am more than happy with the 2L Bongo. I don't want to tow anything (and won't) but I will be taking 6 passengers to a family party tomorrow and haven't found this an issue in the past.
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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by mikeonb4c » Sat Apr 15, 2017 6:30 pm

On the power to weight ratio issue its worth remembering than the tintop is carrying a lot less weight around than the AFT lifting roof model. So a tintop with a 2 litre engine should be quite nippy unless it has 8 footballers in it :wink:
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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by Bongolia » Sat Apr 15, 2017 7:51 pm

I have a 2.0ltr Aero.

The FE engine had been around for a good few years (old tech) before Mazda decided to employ it in the Bongo and is considered a reliable lump, it never achieved its full potential in the saloon car and was quickly superseded by the 16 valve unit and V6 so remains a little under developed for its capacity but still served well in the 626 for many years and is a sound and reliable engine.
They do sound busier than the other engines in the Bongo line up but they perform well considering the amount of weight they have to pull about,
The torque (the pull) you get from these engines happens further up the rev band so they always sound as though they are having a bit of a hard time of it, in fact they are quite happy being buzzed like this and perform well.
What needs to be remembered is that the engine is in the cab with you ( under your left elbow !) and not out front under a bonnet so they will sound noisier than the other engine options but that should not put you off.
Whereas the other engines in the range are quite leisurely these will require a bit of "driving" if you want to be at all spritely, if that is not a consideration then the 2.0ltr is a good vehicle and less costly in terms of maintenance.
Fuel consumption on all the Bongo lumps is around the same and the 2.0ltr doesn't suffer the problems of the other units.
Mine will regularly pull 85 MPH and return around 28MPG when pushed.
BongoGlory
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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by BongoGlory » Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:34 am

Happy Easter guys.

Thanks for the advice it's really appreciated.
Could someone advise me on how much I'm likely to be paying in tax for a later model?
Also has anyone got a tin-top in a standard up and over garage?

Ta
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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by rita » Sun Apr 16, 2017 10:10 am

Bongolia wrote:I have a 2.0ltr Aero.

The FE engine had been around for a good few years (old tech) before Mazda decided to employ it in the Bongo and is considered a reliable lump, it never achieved its full potential in the saloon car and was quickly superseded by the 16 valve unit and V6 so remains a little under developed for its capacity but still served well in the 626 for many years and is a sound and reliable engine.
They do sound busier than the other engines in the Bongo line up but they perform well considering the amount of weight they have to pull about,
The torque (the pull) you get from these engines happens further up the rev band so they always sound as though they are having a bit of a hard time of it, in fact they are quite happy being buzzed like this and perform well.
What needs to be remembered is that the engine is in the cab with you ( under your left elbow !) and not out front under a bonnet so they will sound noisier than the other engine options but that should not put you off.
Whereas the other engines in the range are quite leisurely these will require a bit of "driving" if you want to be at all spritely, if that is not a consideration then the 2.0ltr is a good vehicle and less costly in terms of maintenance.
Fuel consumption on all the Bongo lumps is around the same and the 2.0ltr doesn't suffer the problems of the other units.
Mine will regularly pull 85 MPH and return around 28MPG when pushed.
And they have fitted these engines to the Yale Forklift Trucks.

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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by Jimbobvfr400 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:52 am

BongoGlory wrote:Happy Easter guys.

Thanks for the advice it's really appreciated.
Could someone advise me on how much I'm likely to be paying in tax for a later model?

Ta
The tax is the same for all Bongos, even the very latest ones registered is 2004 are done on the old system as the Bongo was never tested for CO2 emissions. It's about 235 depending on how you pay
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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by Flanners » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:26 pm

Bongolia wrote:
Sat Apr 15, 2017 7:51 pm
I have a 2.0ltr Aero.

The FE engine had been around for a good few years (old tech) before Mazda decided to employ it in the Bongo and is considered a reliable lump, it never achieved its full potential in the saloon car and was quickly superseded by the 16 valve unit and V6 so remains a little under developed for its capacity but still served well in the 626 for many years and is a sound and reliable engine.
They do sound busier than the other engines in the Bongo line up but they perform well considering the amount of weight they have to pull about,
The torque (the pull) you get from these engines happens further up the rev band so they always sound as though they are having a bit of a hard time of it, in fact they are quite happy being buzzed like this and perform well.
What needs to be remembered is that the engine is in the cab with you ( under your left elbow !) and not out front under a bonnet so they will sound noisier than the other engine options but that should not put you off.
Whereas the other engines in the range are quite leisurely these will require a bit of "driving" if you want to be at all spritely, if that is not a consideration then the 2.0ltr is a good vehicle and less costly in terms of maintenance.
Fuel consumption on all the Bongo lumps is around the same and the 2.0ltr doesn't suffer the problems of the other units.
Mine will regularly pull 85 MPH and return around 28MPG when pushed.
That sums it up well. I don't like buzzing mine and keep it 2500-3000rpm on hills, it does sound like it is being pushed hard even at 3k as you say as the lump is right next to you; rather agricultural but smooth round Town. I wanted a face lift aero model as the modern streamline look appeals to me, tin top for getting under height barriers. Mine has just over 40,000miles on it and I am getting around 31mpg on a 2002. I don't push her and usually cruise at 55-60mph on A roads. I like the simplicity of the 2.0 engine and the significantly lower maintenance costs and slightly less fuel costs; less bhp/performance is well worth the trade-off for me.
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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by TheLongRoad » Sat Dec 23, 2017 6:28 pm

Feels a bit like the 2.0 ltr fan club here :D So I’ll add that I also have a 2.0 ltr and am really happy with it. Like others as a home mechanic I appreciate the simplicity of the engine for services. I also read a lot about the engine and its robust reputation and this sold it for me. Ours is a third vehicle for leisure and as such I’m happy to cruise along at 60 / 65 mph in holiday mode, so get approx 31 mpg. :wink:
Elsie-Jaye : 2003 Friendee 2.0 ltr Petrol. :P
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Re: To Bongo or not to bongo

Post by Bob » Sat Dec 23, 2017 7:25 pm

Useful real world experiences, thankyou. 8)
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