The ipsum: A spacious family car

About five years ago, if you logged on to most of the Japanese used car websites, the most popular cars for Uganda were the Toyota Corolla, the Rav4 and the Toyota Premio. While the Corolla maintains its status, a new entrant has since shaken things up at the top of those charts. Enter the Ipsum!

For someone who is supposed to be an avid car enthusiast, you would think I should be writing a review about some sort of sports or luxury car, right? Not necessarily. I am now driving my third Ipsum and not complaining.
Currently, one of the most versatile cars on Ugandan roads is the Ipsum (also sold as the Picnic in Europe).
It was introduced in May 1996 and while most people scoff at it for being used as a Nsenene (grasshopper)arrier or taxi on Masaka Road, I think it cannot be ignored by anyone looking to buy a family car.

Engine and transmission
It is available with only an automatic gear box option, but there are two engines to choose from a 2.0 litre and a 2.2 litre version with some 4WD versions.

Styles and major options
Whether you are taking chicken feeds to your poultry farm or heading to the village with your family, the Ipsum takes it all well within its stride.

There is enough room to seat six adults and one child in good comfort. Rear leg room is impressive and boot space is more than sufficient to carry your market shopping.

The central bench seat though slides back and forward on runners to set back and front leg room, and to enable access to the rear. With the bench folded down and the rear seats out, the carrying capacity is huge.
The interior is robust, sturdy and a bit bland but again unbreakable and very user-friendly as Toyotas normally are.

Practicality
It also comes loaded with all the basic things you want on a car: dual airbags, front and rear parking radars, rear seating, rear aircon, antilock brakes, and a trip computer. Some models also have the option of two sun roofs.
I love the layout and the versatility of the seating system. They fold flat into the floor of the rear boot and it gives fairly easy access to the rear seats. My nephews love it because they can use it as a play ground.
For a family it has innumerable cup holders, store pockets, toy boxes etc, and auxiliary 12v power sockets in the rear to charge your phones as you head down to the village for the holidays. Sure it is not the most stunning of lookers but it grows on you and its practicability is unquestionable.

Performance
Based on the platform of the Toyota Corona, the car runs good and feels great to drive with the two-litre engine providing positive enough throttle response.

It handles much more like a saloon car than the typical people carrier you would expect it to be.
It handles well around the corners without feeling bulky though you feel a bit wary about throwing it into a corner at high speeds due to its height and the small wheels I always change mine from the standard 14” to 15’’ and it makes a whole world of a difference.

The car has a reasonably low centre of gravity, and is quite narrow, and its consumption is manageable.
You can expect to get a combined average of 10L100km. Since 2003 the restyled model comes fitted with a 4 cylinder 2.4L. VVT-i engine in all cars as standard.

However, the body metal feels a bit thin and is easily dented, rear visibility is not the best and you can expect everyone on the Kampala-Masaka road to flag you down thinking your car is a taxi.

The numbers

Shs16m
Price of the Ipsum model 1996

Shs28m
Price of the Ipsum model 2002

Shs45m
Price of the Ipsum model 2007
SOURCE: DAILY MONITOR