When the Peugeot 405 was crowned 1988 European Car of the Year, we don’t think the jurors imaged it would still be in production 30 years later. It’s been a bumpy road, one dotted with setbacks such as international sanctions, but a modestly updated version of the Pininfarina-designed 405 remains popular in Iran, where it’s built by a company named Iran Khodro.
The Iranian 405 recently spawned a pickup named Arisun. It was developed to replace the Bardo; that sounds like the name of a fancy French wine, but it’s actually a badge-engineered version of the Hillman Hunter pickup built exclusively for the local market. When viewed in that light, the Arisun is a thoroughly modern trucklet that offers cutting-edge technology.
The doors and the fenders are lifted straight out of the Peugeot parts bin, but the rest of the sheet metal is specific to the Arisun. Iran Khodro even went through the trouble of updating the front end with sharper headlights, and a more modern-looking bumper that incorporates a three-slat grille. Out back, the tailgate is flanked by a pair of vertical lights.
The Arisun’s cabin isn’t quite as basic as you might imagine. It comes standard with manual air conditioning, a vehicle information screen integrated into the instrument cluster, a CD player with MP3 compatibility, power door locks, and front airbags. However, it soldiers on with drum brakes and leaf springs on the rear axle, concessions made in the name of cost-cutting.
Power comes from a gasoline-burning 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 86 horsepower at 5,260 rpm and 103 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm. It spins the rear wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. In its most capable configuration, the Arisun can haul up to 1,650 pounds (750 kilos) of cargo in a compartment that’s 70 inches (180 centimeters) long and 53 inches (136 centimeters) wide.
A compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered variant of the 1.7-liter is available for buyers looking to trim their fuel budget. Also bolted to a five-speed gearbox, its output drops to 78 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 94 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm. CNG is stored in a pair of 9.2-gallon (35-liter) tanks neatly tucked under the cargo compartment.
In an interesting twist of fate, Indian-owned Italian design house Pininfarina recently agreed to develop a brand-new modular car platform for Iran Khodro. It will spawn at least four models, all of them with Pininfarina styling, and it’s not too far-fetched to speculate one of them will replace the 405. We’re willing to wager the Arisun will stick around even after the 405 is finally laid to rest, prolonging a production run that has already exceeded everyone’s expectations.