REVIEW: Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max is classy but tries too hard with hi-tech
The Tiggo 8 Pro Max was launched late in 2022 as the flagship Chery in SA, and just a few months later the seven-seat SUV was enhanced with a facelift and upgraded features.
The styling overhaul features a more prominent new grille with redesigned rear light clusters connected by a striking LED light bar, and an upgraded interior with enhanced luxury. Chinese vehicles have made great quality strides in recent years, and the appeal of the Tiggo 8 Pro Max’s hi-tech interior lies in its look and feel.
Soft touch leather with wood grain patterns and silver finishing create an upmarket ambience inside the cabin, as do artificial leather seats with a diamond stitching pattern and the smart-looking metal speaker grilles in the doors.
The former dual-cluster instrument panel and infotainment system merge into a single supersized digital screen, as used in luxury brands. It is an impressively opulent environment, rivalling that of luxury brands that cost a lot more. At R699,900 the Tiggo 8 Pro Max comes loaded with features that are often expensive extra-cost items in rival brands, including a panoramic sunroof, adaptive LED headlights, voice control, a wireless phone charger and electric front seats that can be heated and cooled. The only option is choice of colour.
The car has wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as USB ports.
The ambient lighting can be set to 64 different hues and also made to “dance” in step with the music playing on the audio system.
A sound and animation show on the infotainment system greets you when you switch on the car, but it’s rather long winded and can be irritating if you’re in a hurry to start using the infotainment features.
A wide array of driver-assist features includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, a 360-degree camera system, front collision warning and intelligent high beam control. These features can be overly sensitive, sounding alarms when you’re only in the general vicinity of other cars and objects. Thankfully they can be disabled, and unlike some other cars from China the car retains your preferred settings when you switch off the vehicle.
One function that could not be permanently disabled was the camera view that popped up on the infotainment screen when the car stopped at an intersection, providing digital eyes on traffic conditions. I did not find the feature particularly useful, and it was annoying having to manually disable the surround view to use the infotainment system.
The car sometimes tries a little too hard to be hi-tech at the cost of user-friendliness. There are an awful lot of digital rabbit holes to go down.
The Tiggo 8 Pro Max is a seven seater, or more accurately a 5+2 seater as the very tight fold-down third row is suitable only for small children, and with all three rows up there’s minimal boot space. There is plenty of seating space in the front and middle rows, and with row three folded down there is lots of luggage space — even with a full-size spare wheel.
The front and middle row seats can be adjusted for backrest angle and leg room — a practical consideration that’s not available in all Tiggo 8 rivals. All the rows have access to their own air conditioning controls, with the first-row occupants getting a dual zone independent climate control system.
The Tiggo 8 Pro is sold in two versions, both front-wheel drives with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The standard R609,900 model is called the 290T and is powered by a 1.6l petrol turbo engine with outputs of 145kW and 290Nm.
The Tiggo 8 Pro Max 390T has a burlier 2.0l petrol turbo with 187kW and 390Nm, and delivers spirited performance that never leaves one begging for more power. The car leaps off the line energetically and has strong overtaking urge. It is refined too, with well muted wind and engine noise, though there is a minor vibration from the drivetrain in initial pull-off.
The midsize SUV is effortless to drive, with light steering and good visibility, and the driver can select between normal, eco and sport driving modes. I didn’t use the sport setting too often as the car is pretty thirsty, with the test unit averaging 11.4l /100km.
The Tiggo 8 Pro Max is not an off roader, but its elevated 203mm ground clearance and reasonably high-profile tyres (235/50 R19) make it suitable for gravel roads. It has a fairly comfortable ride and seems solidly built, with some slight juddering when driving over bumps. The handling is clean too, though it has some typical SUV body roll when pushed hard through corners.
South African consumers have welcomed Chery’s return to the country with much better-quality vehicles than it used to peddle here a few years ago, and sales have been strong. Except for being rather thirsty, the range-topping Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max is an impressive package with class-leading power and a large haul of features for the price. The Chinese vehicle represents a relative bargain in the seven-seat SUV segment and is priced similarly to five-seat models from rival brands, while the class-leading million-kilometre engine warranty is a drawcard too.
Type: four-cylinder petrol turbo
Type: seven-speed dual clutch automatic
Type: front-wheel drive
Top speed: n/a
0-100km/h: 7.3 seconds (claimed)
Fuel consumption: 7.6l/100km (claimed); 11.4l/100km (as tested)
Electronic stability control, ABS brakes, six airbags, smart keyless entry with push button start, wireless smartphone charger, electrically adjustable front seats, artificial leather seats, electric windows, dual zone climate control with rear air vents, trip computer, infotainment system, power tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlamps, panoramic sunroof, lane change blind spot warning, parking camera, adaptive cruise control, hill descent control, LED daytime running lights, auto high beam control.
COST OF OWNERSHIP
Warranty: five years/150,000km vehicle, 10 years/1-million km engine warranty for the first owner
Service plan: seven years/90,000km
Lease: R15,576 a month
*at 11.75% interest over 60 months no deposit
Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max 390T Executive
WE LIKE: Practicality, classy interior, price
WE DISLIKE: Fuel consumption, Some hi-tech features are overwhelming
VERDICT: Great value for money
Motor News star rating
Value For Money *****
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