Is it the cat among the pigeons?

When one considers this, in combination with its planted nature and quiet drive, the Turbo version will provide more than enough excitement for most owners - whether they boast a spirited itch or not! 

It is no secret – the bakkie, SUV and compact urban SUV market segments, are where most of the vehicle buying activity takes place. And, the competition, given the current stock, or lack of it, situation, makes for tough market conditions.

Chery is back in the country. Armed with a new vision, a completely revised and significantly improved product offering and already boasting 30 dealerships, it is set on not repeating the mistakes of the past.

I just took the Chery Tiggo 4 Pro 1.5-litre Turbo for a short drive and well, the surprise was on me. To say that I am impressed is an understatement.

Exterior

It is dynamic, stylish, energetic and in your face. The large grill with its below the bumper air dam and skid plate exudes a vibrant sportiness. This is enhanced by the design of the headlight and fog lamp clusters. The design lines on the bonnet ads a power element and links well with the shoulder line and wheel arches.

The rear end is cheeky, squarish and well, teasing. The high ground clearance confirms its claim to SUV status and overall, the Tiggo presents one of the best looking compact urban SUVs on the market.

Interior

The interior will surprise you. It is much larger than what one would expect based on the exterior of the car. Although the seats are not that wide, it is surprisingly comfortable.

The feel of steering presents confidence. It is confirmed the moment I pulled off to join the traffic. The car is planted and solid (I am thinking – and I am not kidding you – Subaru).

Entry models have a 3.5” TFT full colour screen in place of a traditional analogue instrument panel, while higher specification models increase the size to a full 7” screen. This colour screen ensures visibility in all conditions and a high level of customisation with different information sources from both the vehicle and the driver’s mobile phone.

 

Taking centre stage in the cabin is the second large full colour screen. This screen is a 10.25” capacitive touch screen that incorporates most of the vehicle control and is equipped – throughout the range and offering Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity and a DVD player.

All models also have air conditioning, electric windows all around and automatic headlamps, to name but a few luxury features. Luxury versions add even more specifications, including a powered sunroof, an intelligent voice command system and climate control. And no, I did not talk to Chery (the voice). I prefer not to be distracted by features when I test drive a car.

I love the full centre console but will not elaborate on it now. One small gripe though. The top edge finish is square and hard. For us tall guys, resting our left knee against it is not comfortable.  Chery should perhaps consider replacing these sharp edges with a soft touch edging.

Performance 

All the Tiggo’s are fitted with a 1.5-litre engine. Entry-level models are normally aspirated boasting 85kW and 141Nm. Power is delivered to the front wheels through either a five-speed manual transmission or CVT.

My test drive was the 1.5-Turbo delivering 108kW and 210 Nm and fitted with the six-speed CVT. The engine offers an Eco or Sport mode engine setting.

Now – the Tiggo is not a performance car and does not claim to be one. But – even in Eco mode, the engine is surprisingly responsive. This applies to both pull off and when you force feed the accelerator to pass slower traffic. Switch to Sport mode and it gets even better.

When one considers this, in combination with its planted nature and quiet drive, the Turbo version will provide more than enough excitement for most owners – whether they boast a spirited itch or not!

The Tiggo presents confidence during cornering also. I hill-climbed from Sabie up to the Lydenburg T-junction! I was smiling all the way.

A CVT gearbox dictates a slightly different or adjusted driving style to curb engine noise. This one is exceptionally smooth and the engineers have done well to inhibit the often annoying noise which is so characteristic of CVT gearboxes.

Conclusion

The Tiggo boasts a list of safety and luxury features as long as my arm. The team at the Mbombela dealership can tell you all about this.

I conclude – if Chery can match (and I believe they intend to) the after sales service levels of Suzuki, Toyota and others, the Tiggo will prove to be the cat among the pigeons.

Go drive it!

Photos: QuickPic

 

 

 

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