Only a fool can ignore the global uprising of Chinese car brands.
Even though a large chunk of these brands is still absent in South Africa, the Chinese carmakers that do operate locally have either already made an impact or is destined to grab a bigger share of the pie.
The GWM/Haval stable is an example of one that has made an impact. In terms of sales, the Jolion SUV and P Series bakkies are showing good monthly numbers compared to the more established carmakers.
On the emerging side, Chery is looming large. With its third local model, the Tiggo 7 Pro, it’s clear the Chinese manufacturer current local foray is a serious one. Unlike the brand’s ill-fated first attempt in Mzansi that quickly fizzled out in the previous decade.
Chery Tiggo family
The medium-sized SUV Tiggo 7 slots in between the more compact Tiggo 4 Pro and larger seven-seater Tiggo 8 Pro. And like its siblings, the Tiggo 7 is easy on the eye, comfortable and offers good value for money.
We recently had the latest edition to the SUV family on test in flagship Executive guise. Priced at R444 900, a R35 000 premium over the lesser specced Distinctive, the Tiggo 7 Pro Executive’s sticker is as attractive as its pretty design.
The deal gets even sweeter when you add the same 10-year/one-million kilometre engine warranty, five-year/150 000 km mechanical warranty and five-year/60 000 km service plan that is also offered standard on its siblings.
Like its siblings, up front the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro features a distinctive hexagon grille, light-bar-type LED daytime headlights and wide-angle fog lights.
At the rear standout features include a lightbar connecting the two taillights, roof-mounted spoiler and dual faux exhaust surrounds.
The side mirrors feature integrated turning signals, while the package sits on 18-inch alloy wheels sporting red brake callipers.
Inside the elegant design continues through premium-feel black synthetic leather with contrasting stitching, with the use of hard plastics that has been kept to the minimum.
The piano black finish of the console around the gear shifter lends a good touch of class. But this surface’s proneness to reflect glare, attract dust and show scratches is always a concern.
The cabin features three screens; a seven-inch customisable instrument cluster, a 10.25-inch infotainment system with smartphone connectivity and below it a very fancy touchscreen for climate control operation.
The very generously specced Tiggo 7 Pro Executive also features push button start/stop system, 360-degree camera, electronically adjustable front seats, panoramic sunroof, multiple colour ambient lightning, wireless charging and Chery’s voice command system.
For the record, unlike any similar German system, the voice command system could understand every order my eight-year-old daughter gave it.
There is plenty of head and legroom in the rear to keep adult passenger comfortable, while the 475-litres of boot space can be extended to 1 500-litres via 60/40 rear seat split.
Safety comes in the form of adaptive cruise control, hill descent control, hill start assistance, rear traffic alert, blind spot detection, lane departure warning, front collision warning, ABS with EBD, emergency braking assist and six airbags.
Chery Tiggo 7 has plenty of power
One area where Chinese products often struggles to live up to its competitors is under the bonnet, where they usually take flak for a lack of power and feeble fuel consumption. We are happy to report the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro performed rather acceptable on both departments.
The Tiggo 7 Pro is powered by the same hardware that serves on Tiggo 4 Pro Elite derivatives, which is a 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine. It produces 108 kW of power and 210 Nm of torque which is sent to the front wheels via CVT.
Despite the Tiggo 7 weighing around 200 kg more than the Tiggo 4 at 1 888 kg, the powertrain does effortlessly with the additional weight.
We did not try and race it as we doubt anyone would buy it for this purpose. While strangely bereft of a Sport driving with Eco being the only alternative to Normal, it is certainly no slouch and gets you around town without any fuss.
As far as CVTs go, the Tiggo 7’s fully electronic operatable gearbox is also quite well behaved too. During normal operation it moves smoothly through its nine pre-programmed “spreads”.
The typical erraticness associated with this type of transmission does bear its ugly head when you require additional oomph, but it is very par for the course.
As far as fuel consumption go, we achieved a numbers of 9.4 L per 100km over the course of 528 km which consisted of mostly city traffic. While this number is probably one to two higher than what you can expect from its established rivals, it is still acceptable for something this heavy and spacious.
If you buy with your head and not your heart the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro is very hard to ignore.
While it has competition from a price point perspective from fellow Chinese SUV the Haval Jolion, it manages to offer more value for money than all the established brands’ SUVs. With offerings like these, the Chinese uprising is set to gain more local ground.
For ore information on the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro, visit the manufacturer’s website.