By Clive Funziwe
When a brand returns to a country post an exit one cannot help but wonder or be a sceptic on how the brand would fare this time around. That brand is Chery, and many oldies like me would remember some rather archaic looking models that braced the SA streets, albeit with not much street cred. The brand is now back with a bang we were lucky enough to get our hands on the flagship model, the Tiggo 8 Pro Max for long term review in December.
Coming in at R629,900 the Tiggo 8 Pro Max offers immediate value when you look at the space, technology on offer and overall aesthetics. Unlike the models of yesteryear, the styling and execution is what you can describe as European and so is the quality and driving aids. Safety is taken care of by 6 airbags, a brake assist system (BAS), blind spot detection (BSD), a 360-degree HD panoramic imaging camera, car lock and remote window close just to name a few noteworthy features.
The interior complements the abovementioned features in how they are interfaced to the user/driver. This brings out to the ergonomics of the cabin. Operating the technology is mostly intuitive and the acquaintance period is short and sweet. What we would have liked to see is the ability to configure some functions, like the auto window close when you walk away. This is not a feature you can fault, but sometimes you would like to leave a window open slightly when you lock the car. Admittedly, this is a slight nit-pick.
Staying with the not so positives, we found the engine could be thirsty as we could only get 10.4l/100kms as the lowest figure, despite an intentional effort to get this lower, even when cruising at lower than highway speeds. Maybe this can be attributed to the delivery mileage of the car being sub 1000km’s, but when the car was handed back, it was still below 3000km’s and this didn’t seem to be getting better as the engine progressively ran in. When you consider that engine is a 2.0l turbo that pushes out 187kW/390Nm one can forgive the consumption. Power is on tap, responsive and very satisfying. One should note though that this is not a cornering machine. This is a good thing for the most part, as it means the suspension is dialed in for comfort and suppleness. The Tiggo is very comfortable, and this is made better by the seats. They are one of the most comfortable seats. Lush, soft, supportive are a few words we would use to describe them.
We would like to close off the review by mentioning whether the brand is back strong or not, but we cannot do that looking at one model. But looking at the Tiggo 8 Pro Max, we can state that it is a worthy contender in its category and priced well. We really enjoyed our time with it and we managed to handle the December run around with family and shopping with ease and relaxation as we enjoyed the space that this 7-seater has to offer, the technology and safety and great looks.
We experienced an issue with the first car where the car would recognize the key but not start the engine. Within a couple of hours, we had a replacement car that worked well until we handed back the car. The Tiggo Pro 8 Max model was launched in December, and this may have been a one-time glitch. The potential buyer would need to check with the dealers if this was perhaps a software glitch which may have been updated.
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