Thursday, 12 June 2008

Chery Automobile test drive

So my brothers and I just came back from having a test drive of the automobiles from the newly established in South Africa, Chery. I was looking forward to the experience, with McCarthy giving much exposure for the country, but sadly I felt underwhelmed by the offerings.


The Tiggo is a compact SUV which shares design similarities to the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Toyota RAV4. This is by no means a bad thing, for it looks like a stellar vehicle. However, it must be expressed that this conservative design approach does feel unwarranted. It's cheaper then the other SUV's mentioned, and so can appeal to those who want a more affordable option, but whereas the others have their own individual elements, the Tiggo is without any. Upon driving I noticed that the clutch felt very weak, with clutch control feeling awkward, but once the car got moving the clutch was no problem at all. Yet this is where the gearing became problematic. The gearbox does not feel like a solid unit but instead as if you have to pull along extra cargo which is latched to a rope, while walking around corners. The seating interior was decent, but the steering wheel felt a tad too plastic. While a compact SUV, my brothers noted that the leg space for the back seats where cramped; I had just enough space to drive with. In terms of driving, the brothers noted a smooth experience, but that is not the case for the driver. Considering its 2.0 liter engine, the Tiggo handles as if the engine is not strong enough to support its weight. It got some decent speeds all the way up to the fifth gear, but its power was severely lacking. It retails for around R155 000, but with that price tag, you are better off purchasing a tenth-generation 1.4 Corolla, which surpasses the Tiggo in every respect.


Afterwards, I took the J5 for a test. Like the Tiggo, the gearbox and clutch felt poorly designed. However, the J5's clutch became problematic during driving unlike the Tiggo. Running on the same engine, the car feels better on the road, but upon shifting gears, the car unnecessary gave a slight jerk. I've driven a handful of cars, ranging from Toyota, to Fiat, to Citroen, but I have never come across a car which felt unstable upon gear change as if the car just wanted its driver to give it an early burial. But where I can at least recommend the Tiggo in some respect, I can't say the same for the J5. Yes, it has a nifty parking sensor, but its interior, regardless of its leather in the higher models, and exterior are far too outdated. If anything, there is more leg room in the J5, comparing close to the tenth-generation Corolla, but at R140 000, it is a little overpriced.


While I did not technically drive this model, I did attempt to get a feel for the car instruments. Firstly it must be mentioned that the QQ3 feels outdated from the very moment you get inside. Besides the interior, there is nothing which even feels remotely like it was made in 2000 or beyond. In fact, the built in radio system has a cassette player. Beyond that I don't see it driving any better then the Tiggo or J5, but I must commend the interior seats, and exterior design, which has a uniquely cute appeal on its front side, even though you could easily misjudge it for a Chevrolet Spark. It is the cheapest car on the South African market, retailing for around R60 000 to R70 000, depending on the model. I am not a fan of the Chevy Spark, and sadly am not much impressed by the QQ3.

The build quality for the three vehicles is not bad at all, and they possess a wealth of little nice touches, such as a sun-roof or full electric window control. But with non-existent clutch control, clunky gearing, outdated cockpits, and other individual problems, it is very difficult to justify the price tag these vehicles possess. Yes, they are bottom range sellers, but for what you are getting, the Chery line is strictly for last resort or necessity only.

1 comment:

Denisa Cretu said...

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