Reborn Chery Tiggo mostly sheds its cheap-and-nasty tag
Feature-filled Chinese SUV has a winning price but there are some rough edges
In the cut-throat compact SUV segment it’s difficult for lesser-known brands to challenge the hegemony of popular players such as Toyota, Ford and VW.
Chinese brands in particular felt the burn of consumer indifference with their well-priced but cheap-feeling products in the past. The latest generation Chinese cars have made big leaps in build quality while retaining competitive pricetags, however, led by Haval which has racked up impressive sales with its Jolion and H6.
A similar turnaround has happened at Chery, which recently returned after quitting SA in 2018 after 10 years with the Imperial Group (now Motus). Chery SA is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chinese parent company and the brand’s relaunch was spearheaded by the Tiggo 4 Pro compact SUV/crossover, and more recently the larger Tiggo 8 Pro.
Pitched against rivals such as the Mazda CX-3, Haval Jolion and Ford EcoSport in a very crowded segment, the Tiggo 4 Pro is very competitively priced and was launched with an unprecedented 10-year/1-million kilometre engine warranty with some terms and conditions. It comprises a standard five-year/150,000km warranty and a free extension for another five years, with an additional 850,000km engine warranty provided the vehicle is still with the original owner. Only the 150,000km warranty is transferable to a new owner.
Also included is a five-year/60,000km service plan and AA roadside assistance for five years/unlimited kilometres.
Compared with the plasticky Tiggo of a few years back, the new 4 Pro has notably improved refinement and a more upmarket cabin. The exterior styling is attractive and trendy, with a modern grille and LED light signatures.
The interior is pleasing with its soft-touch surfaces and general high-class ambience with an interesting mix of textures. It is also on trend with its digitisation, comprising a touch screen infotainment system and a digital instrument panel.
The tablet-style 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity and a DVD player.
It’s mostly straightforward to operate though some of the features are trickier than they need to be — for instance resetting the trip meter required an extended foray into the digital maze.
All models have standard luxuries such as air conditioning, electric windows and automatic headlamps, while the range-topping Elite SE throws in fancier items like a powered sunroof, voice control and climate control.
Safety in the Elite SE includes six airbags and stability control, and it earned a five-star rating when crash tested by Chinese NCAP in 2015.
It’s a roomy vehicle with plenty of leg- and headroom for tall adults, and the boot is a decent size, though it has a spacesaver spare wheel. With the seats flipped down the cargo hold is large enough for a bicycle without having to remove a wheel.
Though the front-wheel drive Tiggo isn’t an off-roader, an elevated ride height and high-profile 17-inch tyres enabled it to comfortably tackle gravel roads on our test route, while front and rear skidplates further enhance its SUV-like character.
It’s a much better effort than previous Cherys, but there are some rough edges.
In its driving characteristics and refinement the Tiggo 4 Pro is in a similar ballpark to compact SUV rivals with more prestigious badges. It feels sure-footed through corners and the ride quality is generally comfortable, though rough roads expose some jittering. The general build quality seems solid except for the tailgate door rattling when driving over bumps.
Though it’s a little coarse, the 1.5 turbo petrol engine has reasonable gusto, ensuring the Tiggo is able to comfortably cruise in the fast lane and maintain speed up hills. It offers economy and sport driving modes at the press of a switch, but at 9.6l / 100km the car was thirsty for a 1.5.
The continuously variable transmission (CVT) gets dazed and confused at times while going through its simulated gearchanges, causing lurches and pauses. This is the sole transmission in the Elite SE, and manual transmissions are available only in lesser-specced models.
The gearbox, along with the rattling tailgate and thirsty engine, take some sparkle off the package, but the car is a big improvement over the previous Tiggo at a very keen price and an industry-leading warranty.
Type: Four-cylinder petrol turbo
Type: Automatic continuously variable transmission
Type: Front wheel drive
Top speed: 180km/h
0-100km/h: 10.0 seconds
Fuel Consumption: 6/8l/100km (claimed), 9.6l/100km (as tested)
Six airbags, ABS brakes, stability control, sunroof, electric seat adjustment (driver), LED headlights, leatherette upholstery, voice control, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, rear parking camera, driving modes, touchscreen infotainment system, DVD player, USB ports, hill descent control, electric mirrors, trip computer, remote central locking, electric windows, auto on/off lights, rain sensor wipers
COST OF OWNERSHIP
Warranty: Five years/150,000km (Ten years/1,000,000km engine warranty for first owner)
Service plan: Five years/60,000km
Lease*: R7,847 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Chery Tiggo 4 Pro Elite SE
WE LIKE: Price, features, styling
WE DISLIKE: CVT gearbox, fuel consumption
VERDICT: Feature-packed with a winning price, but some rough edges
Motor News star rating
Design * * * *
Performance * * *
Economy * * *
Ride * * *
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Safety * * * *
Value For Money * * * *
Overall * * *
Haval 1.5T Luxury Auto, 105kW/210Nm — R377,900
Opel Crossland X 1.2 Turbo Enjoy auto, 81kW/205Nm — R378,000
Mazda CX-3 2.0 Active auto,115kW/206Nm — R388,900
Ford EcoSport 1.0T Titanium auto, 92kW/170Nm — R408,700
Toyota Corolla Cross 1.8 XR, 103kW/172kW — R425,400
Peugeot 2008 1.2T Active auto, 96kW/230Nm — R425,900
Kia Seltos 1.6 EX auto, 90kW/151Nm — R426,995
Honda HR-V 1.5 Comfort, 88kW/145Nm — R437,800
Mitsubishi ASX 2.0 LS auto, 110kW/197Nm — R439,995
Volkswagen T-Cross 1.5 TSI R-Line, 110kW/250Nm — R481,700
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