WATCH: Omoda C9 poised to take luxury and tech to a new level
C9 will be Omoda's flagship model, and also parent company Chery's most premium divisional product in South Africa.
Spun-off of the Exeed RX, the Omoda C9 will be the brand, as well as parent company Chery’s most premium SUV when it goes on-sale.
A surprise debutant on parent company Chery’s stand at the Kyalami Festival of Motoring last year, the Omoda C9 will make its eagerly awaited market premiere in the second quarter of this year as not only the marque’s second model after the C5, but also its plushest and most powerful.
WATCH walkaround of the Omoda C9 below
A new type of ‘Chery’
The first in a number of models the Chery-owned brand will roll-out in 2024, the C9 will also take-up station as the flagship product within the so-called O&J division comprising Omoda and Jaecoo in a standalone role from its parent.
Although set to arrive on dealership floors after the lead Jaecoo model, the J7 in March or April, an opportunity to experience the C9 before its market launch headed The Citizen’s way as part of a pre-launch taster, albeit with a left-hand-drive prototype.
What is it?
The complete opposite of the off-road-flavoured J7 sampled last year, the C9, as mentioned, represents the pinnacle of Chery’s product range by being in effect an Omoda badged version of the RX sold under the ultra-luxurious Exeed brand in China.
Known at home as the Exeed Yaoguang, with the RX naming being applied to export models, the C9 sports a distinctive coupe-like design complete with a rear facia and sloping roof Omoda admitted had been inspired by that of the Range Rover Velar.
A not maliciously copied styling strait, but one done above board as a result of Chery having links with Range Rover parent company, JLR, the C9 measures 4 781 mm long, 1 920 mm wide and 1 671 mm while riding on a wheelbase stretching 2 815 mm.
Feeling wider and airier from behind the wheel, most likely as a result of sitting on the opposite side, the quick drive around the business park where Chery South Africa’s offices are located presented little chance to fully test the C9 as a result of the unit being in pre-production.
What did transpire was the higher than normal, even for a Chinese vehicle, level of specification items buyers will be privy to.
Although still to be finalised, the prototype came furnished with a dual 12.6-inch infotainment system and digital instrument cluster, a Sony sound system with two of the nine speakers integrated into the front seat headrests, a 50-watt wireless smartphone charger, heated and cooled rear seats, a panoramic sunroof, a fragrance dispenser and active ambient lighting.
Set to also feature 60 types of safety and driver assistance systems, the C9 will be equipped with what Omoda calls the “boss seat”.
Essentially, this allows those seated at the rear, who can adjust the headrests electrically, to move the passenger seat forward in order to aid rear legroom.
A pre-requisite in China, where long wheelbase versions of existing vehicles are common, the feature is, unsurprisingly, only active in the case of the seat not being occupied.
Besides heating and ventilation, front seat comfort further includes a massaging function and, as a likely way of offsetting the “boss mode’, a reclining ottoman-style setting for the passenger’s chair.
It’s fit-and-finish, and massive floating centre console, proving impressive for a prototype designated vehicle, the drive did show a hint of C9’s performance credentials, although as mentioned, not fully as a result of the business park being peppered with speed bumps and cars going in and out.
Most powerful “Chery”
As alluded to at Kyalami, the C9 will derive motivation from the same 2.0-litre T-GDI engine as the Tiggo 8 Pro Max, but with power increased from 187 kW to 192 kW and torque, as evident by the 400T badge on the tailgate, from 390 Nm to 400 Nm.
Unlike in China, South Africa will get an eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox – the lever mounted on the steering column – instead of the seven-speed dual-clutch as a result of what Omoda described as having been due to buyer demand based on research.
Initially, the C9 will only be offered with front-wheel-drive, though all-wheel-drive could be added at a later stage should approval be given.
Although only set to show its real talents come April or May, the promise made by the Omoda C9 probably rates as one of the biggest set-out by any recent Chinese vehicle launch as a result of its segment placing, array of features and comfort.
While pricing remains to be announced, an indicative estimation has come up with a sticker of between R800 000 and R850 000.
However, this isn’t confirmed and will only be set in stone once Omoda makes it official within the next few months.