Jaco Van Der Merwe

By Jaco Van Der Merwe

Head of Motoring

Why impressive Tiggo 7 Pro Max is the sweetest Chery yet

Ambitious Chinese carmaker is raising its game at the rate of knots.

Last month, Chery proudly proclaimed that it was the manufacturer that sold the second-most SUVs in South Africa after Toyota in 2023.

No mean feat, considering the Chinese carmaker has barely been back in Mzansi for two years after a lengthy hiatus. And taking Toyota’s dominance into consideration, being the best of the rest is something to be proud of.

And things are bound to get even better for Chery. A host of new models have recently boosted the core Chery and Omoda offerings. And the Jaecoo moniker will be set to be introduced to the stable soon.

Chery on top

One of the recently added models was the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro Max. The Max tops the Tiggo 7 Pro range and gets more power, exterior styling tweaks and upgraded tech inside.

The Citizen Motoring recently got to spend a week in the front-wheel drive Chery Tiggo 7 Pro Max Executive. Priced at R559 900, it is R50 000 cheaper than the all-wheel drive derivative that was introduced alongside it late last year.

The Max gets restyled “angel wings” LED headlights and a new front bumper with chrome accents. Regardless of the colour of the Max’s paintwork, it features distinctive blue detailing on the flanks of the bumper.

And speaking of blue, our test unit was clad in what Chery calls Vanilla Blue paintwork. Unlike any other blue you’ll find on our roads, this colour really stands out and found favour from many admirer. Even this writer’s fashionista teenage daughter.

ALSO READ: Chery sets record straight on incoming Jaecoo brand

Chery Tiggo 7 Pro Max
The Chery Tiggo 7 Pro Max rides on 18-inch alloy wheels. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

Power bump

Another upgrade from its sibling sees the Max ride on 18-inch diamond cut alloy wheels featuring what Chery calls deep-dish patterns.

On the bootlid, the Tiggo 7 Pro Max features a 290T badge, which indicates the 290 Nm of torque produced by the 1.6 litre T-GDI engine. Along with 145 kW of power, the Max’s outputs are a considerable 37 kW/80 Nm upgrade from it’s lower specced sibling.

ALSO READ: Chery picked new Tiggo 7 Pro Max and sporty Omoda C5 GT arrive

And the other boon is the Max swapping out the CVT in favour of seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Many non-premium brands nowadays claim to finish their cars as premium as possible in an attempt to offer luxury specs at more affordable prices. While this is usually achieved with mixed results, Chery did an excellent job with the interior of the Tiggo 7 Pro Max.

The combination of leather, faux carbon inserts, brushed aluminium touches, black piano detailing and soft-touch plastics, a 64-hue stepless LED ambient lightning and 1.1 square metre panoramic sunroof work an absolute charm.

Chery Tiggo 7 Pro Max cabin
Chery has done an excellent job with the interior of the Tiggo 7 Pro Max. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

Premium finishing

Hard plastics have been kept to a minimum and if you get into the car with your eyes and would have to guess the brand by touch and feel, chances are you will easily go for a premium label.

The Max is the beneficiary of dual 12.3 inch screens, eight-speaker Sony sound system, a 50 watt wireless phone charger, smart-looking centre console, advanced voice command, revised 360-degree surround-view camera system and heated and ventilated leather sports seats.

One thing that we did find intriguing was the convex rear-view mirror, which is quite a sight for sore eyes. We thought it is definitely less dramatic than the Tiggo 8 Pro Max’s LED display, but still a bit freaky.

On the safety front, the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro Max’s list of specifications is as impressive as its tech. In addition to basic things like airbags, there are 17 safety features. This includes autonomous emergency braking, rear collision warning, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, driver monitoring system and rear cross traffic alert.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Omoda C9 poised to take luxury and tech to a new level

Closing the gap

Out on the road, the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro Max’s powertrain is a marked improvement from its sibling. We thought acceleration is quite brisk without compromising too much on fuel consumption. The system resets the fuel economy number after every trip, but we mostly managed around 8 litres per 100 km.

While the blown four-pot mill produces smooth power through the seven-speed box, the throttle’s sensitivity takes a bit of time to get used to. Push too hard too quickly and wheel spin it is. But once you master this, you start enjoying an area where we have always thought most Chinese cars had catch-up to do.

Chery Tiggo 7 Pro Max boot
The boot can swallow 626 litres. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

The ride is plush and handling a pleasure. And while the thought of hordes of safety systems bring peace of mind, the Max’s proactiveness can be scary – especially, when a car guard makes a sudden appearance from behind in a parking lot. The emergency brakes bring the car to such an abrupt halt that makes you think you ran him over.

A Chery to savour

While the influx of Chinese cars has always offered a favourable price point at the expense of various niggles, the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro Max goes a long way in ironing things out. It is a lot of car wrapped in a very comprehensive package offered at a very attractive price.

In our opinion, the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro Max is probably the most complete Chery product yet.

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