Home » Madagascar’s Biggest And Only Indigenous Carmaker Delivers 74th Car

Madagascar’s Biggest And Only Indigenous Carmaker Delivers 74th Car

Mazana Top
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Back in 2018, I wrote about Madagascar’s only truly independent and home-grown carmaker, Karenjy. I kinda fell in love with these plucky underdogs back then, and I’m happy to report that the little Malagasy carmaker is still going at it, slowly but steadily, and has just delivered their 74th Mazana II car. This is hot on the heels of their 73rd delivery a month ago, so I’d say things are just humming right along for this maker of rugged fiberglass-bodied little SUVs. Let’s take a look at these fascinating cars, why not? After all, they’re probably the smallest and most obscure carmaker to ever make a Popemobile!

Let’s go into detail about the Popemobile first: back in 2019, when Pope Francis visited Madagascar, his Popemobile was a specially-modified Mazana II:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

What a lovely and airy Popemobile! The white steering wheel and dashboard is an especially nice touch, as are those fold-down red-carpeted stairs.

But let’s get back to the Big News: earlier this week, that 74th Mazana II, a nice blue one, was delivered to a customer, as seen on Karenjy’s Facebook page:

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Look at that tough-looking little car! The Mazana II design appeared relatively recently, in 2015, replacing earlier Mazana (a name that means “stroll” in Malagasy, a refreshingly calm name for a car) cars and pickup trucks. The company was started back in 1984 as a governmental program,  and was shut down in the early ’90s partially because of political turmoil occurring in that era.

In 2008, a French-Malagasy company called Le Relais bought the remnants of the company and continued building pickup trucks while they designed and engineered their next car, the Mazana II.

The design of the Mazana II is deliberately simple and rugged, a car designed for its environment.

Mazana2 Diag

The basic shape is somewhere between a crew cab pickup with a short, covered bed and a tall sedan; there’s plenty of ground clearance, and it can be had with rear-wheel drive or two types of four-wheel drive, one with a locking differential. A Peugeot DV6CM 1.6-liter diesel engine gives power, routed through a  five-speed manual transmisson.

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All the glass is flat, for ease of manufacture and replacement. Those door hinges are exposed and easy to replace, and all of the lighting is from off-the-shelf, easily-replaceable units. Also, look at the approach and departure angles on this thing – 30° and 40°, which is pretty respectable!

You can even get all sorts of exciting accessories like snorkels and lights and various guards and roof racks, as seen in this Karenjy promo image:

Mazana Acces

Also note that this one has a more wagon/SUV design with that camper shell-like cover at the rear, which I think actually helps the overall look a great deal.

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In some peculiar ways, this is a kind of new car I fantasize about: designed for ease of maintenance and repair from the start, quirky and appealing, a manual transmission, utilitarian but somehow charming. They’re economical, too with a claimed 29 to 39 mpg, and a cost of around just under $16,000 (the costs seem to be on a car-by-car basis, but that appears to be about average). I would daily drive one of these in a heartbeat, and I feel like if this could be sold in America for under $20,000, there would be a real niche that this pleasingly clunky little thing could absolutely own.

So, congratulations, Karenjy! If you’re having a press drive for the Mazana II any time soon, I’d love to check one of these out!

(Thanks to Dogapult!)

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Scott
Scott
10 months ago

I like the simplicity, blocky shape, round lights, and flat glass. And the price. Sadly, a 1.6l Peugeot diesel isn’t suitable here, and engineering even the most modest EV drivetrain is likely a no-go. And Federalizing it for sale here would surely be out of hte question financially. Nice little car though… I think the orange accents and grab handle on vehicle #74 actually look swell! 🙂

Blajghhh
Blajghhh
10 months ago

We will crowd fund a review video if you you all give us a Top Gear style low budget Madagascar adventure while you’re over there.

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
10 months ago

It’s so cute!

It makes sense that they’d build a little off-roader, too. The roads they used in The Grand Tour’s Madagascar special (probably to pick the worst roads, but hey—gotta traverse ’em all) were pretty gnarly.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
10 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Madagascar was an enjoyable special. Driving the Caterham through those mudholes must have been so uncomfortable.

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