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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Facelift Tiggo 8 Pro Max a powerful Chery bomb of note

Improved flagship Tiggo 8 Pro still offers a lot of tech and spec for the money, but is equally still in need of sorting out in a few areas.

Seated behind the wheel of the left-hand-drive, facelift Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max days after the Shanghai Auto Show in April came with the notion that it would soon find its way to South Africa no matter what.

As such, getting a first-hand experience would lead to a significant advantage once it eventually arrived. That, though, wasn’t the case.

NOW READ: Updated Tiggo 8 Pro Max offers huge value for money

For one, foreigners are not allowed to drive in China. Secondly, sampling the Tiggo 8 Pro Max took place on a gymkhana course laid out in the parking lot of a Chinese theme park not far from the automaker’s main factory in Wuhu.

It, therefore, meant that getting to grips with the Max and forming an opinion came to nothing due to the course being too short and not exactly set up to test certain criteria.

Still part of blossoming cherys

Waiting for it to launch in South Africa presented the only real way to carefully scrutinise it in detail, which happened when Road Test Editor Mark Jones got behind the wheel in Durban two months ago

Facelift Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max road test South Africa
Neat looking 19-inch alloy wheels part of the Tiggo 8 Pro Max’s difference from the lesser 230T Executive.

While it would appear natural to drone on about Chery’s meteoric rise to success and incredible turnaround since returning to South Africa in 2021, for not wanting to sound repetitive, the focus here is placed squarely on the Max, which, like the rest of the Tiggo 8 Pro range, accounts for the least of Chery South Africa’s local sales..

Of course, the reasons are easy to fathom as the Tiggo 8 sits atop Chery’s range with a starting price of R609 900 for the entry-level 290T Executive versus the R279 900 of the newly added Tiggo 4 Pro LiT.

At R669 000, the Max is the priciest model Chery currently sells locally, although this is likely to rise significantly before year-end by the already confirmed all-wheel-drive derivative

Inside the facelift Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max
Brushed aluminium effect door panels and brown stitching contrast well, while the Sony sound system is merely adequate.

In typical Chinese vehicle fashion, the front-wheel-drive Tiggo 8 Pro Max’s asking price presents an incredible proposition given not only the range of tech but also seven-seats and a groundbreaking 10-year/1 000 000 km engine warranty.

Visually appealing Chery

The mixed signals provided by the 290T Executive tested last year was, therefore, the sole point of reference when the Max arrived for the weekly seven-stay decked out in the same stunning Roland Purple hue.

Excluding the colour, the Max’s visual changes, since passed down to the Executive but not the entry-level Distinction Chery has opted to discontinue, are minor and need careful studying when viewed from the front.

Facelift Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max road test South Africa
Rear facia has received most the exterior’s updates.

These include a thicker grey border around the grille, model-specific diamond-cut 19-inch alloy wheels, a special start-up sequence for the Matrix LED headlights and, the most prominent, an illuminated Chery logo

At the rear, the makeover has been more extensive. Besides quad exhaust outlets, Chery has restyled the faux diffuser and fitted a full-width LED light bar between the main LED clusters.

A restyling completed by the Chery name badge moving to below the thin illumination, the tweaks do not diminish the Tiggo 8 Pro Max’s visual presence as a stylish and aggressive-looking SUV.

Hugely improved interior…

Open the door; Chery has been more thorough as the previous black leather, Audi-esque climate control panel, combination of the 10.25-inch infotainment system and instrument cluster, and piano key black centre console have all been dropped in one foul swap.

Road Test of the new Chery Tiggo 8 Pro
Extensively revised interior looks more pleasing than before, although the brown leather upholstery won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

Taking their respective places is a brown leather upholstery option, a completely new floating centre console with imitation-grained wood, a new dashboard complete with touch-sensitive climate control buttons and a new dual 12.3-inch instrument cluster and infotainment system – the latter still with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as the Hello Chery voice recognition system

Inside the facelift Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max
Touch-sensitive metal climate control strip replaces the Audi-style panel previously offered.

The facelift expanded to include a new steering wheel, a combination of type-A and type-C USB ports, plus new air vents and a wireless smartphone charger at the base of the console, Chery has also upgraded the materials, fitted the mouse-pad-like gear lever from the Omoda C5 and move the speakers for the eight-speaker Sony sound system from the A-pillar to the doors

…but not perfect

Almost akin to a new model instead of a facelift, the interior, while a step in the right direction, is still not without its foibles, the least being the brown colouration, not everyone will appreciate.

Besides the trip computer still lacking a memory function, resulting in all driving data being lost every time the ignition is switched off, the driver’s seat is still positioned too high even when dropped to its low setting, which obscures the view of the instrument cluster no matter how high the steering column is.

Road Test of the new Chery Tiggo 8 Pro
Trip computer within the instrument cluster still lacks a memory functions and resets each time the ignition is turned off.

In comparison to the soft leather and descent plastics, the faux wood feels decidedly cheap, while the stubby gear lever, as in the C5, needs a steady when selecting gear as a result of being massively touch sensitive.

>What’s more, the new infotainment system remains a bugbear to scroll through, not helped by it now sitting further away from the driver and requiring some arm stretching.

As Mark explained, the digital rear-view mirror also requires more than a few days getting used to for projecting an image closer than what it really is.

About the Chery tech…

Tiggo 8 Pro Max gear lever
New touch-pad like gear lever requires a careful hand switching from gears as the electric mechanism is very touch sensitive.

It isn’t all bad, though, as the new centre console has lifted the interior’s aesthetics in a way the previous setup did not.

Despite being the top-spec model, Chery has thrown more spec into the bargain by equipping the Max with electric, heated and ventilated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a hands-free electric tailgate, integrated satellite navigation and a dashcam

Above the already present features that will take-up the rest of this article, the Tiggo 8 Pro Max’s seat comfort is good, and space supreme.

Behind the wheel of the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max
Entry to the third row is tight and not recommended for anyone bar small children

Wile the third row remains admittedly skewed towards junior family members, adjusting the second row’s backrest does allow a little more space. In general, trips in the outer row will have to be quick.

The second row is a different story as before; boot space varies from 193-litres with all seven seats up to 892-litres with the third row down. Dropping the third turns the Tiggo 8 Pro Max into a van with a total luggage capacity of 1 930-litres.

What about the engine?

The biggest sensation is the 2.0 T-GDI engine that rectifies the sluggish 1.6 T-GDI the Executive uses. Still hooked to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the engine develops 187 kW and as indicated by the 390T badge on the bootlid, 390 Nm of torque.

Tiggo 8 Pro Max interior
Seats are electric, heated and ventilated, but the driver’s chair is still too high even on its lowest setting.

Unchanged from the pre-facelift Max, the combination is explosive. As one friend bluntly put it in the passenger’s seat after a few minutes, “die ding [insert expletive of choice] of”.

That it sure does, as unlike the 1.6 T-GDI, the 2.0-litre spools up so quickly and without the low-down turbo-lag that the Max feels even faster than what the outputs claim

The incredible surge, punch and rapid acceleration aren’t without a few pitfalls. Too sudden throttle inputs will result in wheelspin when setting off, something the all-wheel-drive will likely rectify when it debuts

Chery's revised Tiggo 8 Pro Max interior
In typical Chinese car fashion, space in the second row is impressive.

For its part, the dual-clutch ‘box’s shifts are smoother, but not 100%, as on a few occasions, it would hesitate and shift down abruptly

That being said, it is nowhere as erratic as on the 1.6, making the continual lack of paddle shifters even more disappointing.

Dynamics still not polished

While an undoubted powerhouse, the Max’s dynamic prowess goes the other way as the steering is still devoid of feel and only improves with the selection of Sport mode.

Selecting this also means a sharper throttle response, which has the knock-on effect of considerable torque steer and sure wheelspin if overexuberant with the loud peddle.

Although comfortable on smooth surfaces, the suspension doesn’t take kindly to imperfections, unlike in the Executive, which rides on 18-inch wheels.

Behind the wheel of the Tiggo 8 Pro Max
Dropping the third row unlocks a total capacity of 892-litres.

Tasked with patched or less than ideal tar, the rides exhibit a washball sensation in which the Tiggo 8 Pro Max moves nervously like treading on a ball-bearing-like surface.

Given the extra grunt, the soft brakes, as on the 290T Executive, remains a worry as more than the usual foot input is required to bring the Tiggo 8 Pro Max to a stop.

Finally, the topic of fuel consumption continues to hamstring most Chinese vehicles. Whereas the 1.6 T-GDI registered a high 10.5 L/100 km, spending more time with the Max on the highway saw the instrument cluster register a best and, it has to be said, impressive 7.8 L/100 km

Back to town driving and the daily commute saw the readout plummet to as high as 12.1 L/100 km at one point.


More accomplished but still not perfect, and in some cases, overcomplicated, the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max shrugs-off its deficiencies by appeasing to what most buyers immediately look for from a new vehicle: value for money.

As mentioned with the Executive, the level of tech and kit, seven seats, and punchy engine make its sticker price a bargain no comparative rival can match like-for-like

Through in the engine warranty, a seven-year/90 000 km service plan and a five-year/150 000 km warranty, the Tiggo 8 Pro Max speaks for itself as a package that cannot and won’t be ignored easily.

NOW READ: Chery celebrates South Africa success with Max(ed) Tiggo 8 Pro

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