Cheap and cute

2012-08-25 15:31

Small cars need a lot more than good looks and pricing when entering the local market these days because competition is tough.

And when one of the contenders fall under a Chinese banner, scrutiny gets intense because of the poor quality in other brands.

Great Wall Motors (GWM) South Africa launched the second small car in its fleet this week in the form of the C10.

From the front it’s different, with a unique V-shaped grille, but from the rear you could mistake it for an old Toyota Yaris.

Other than the GWM badge on the boot lid and the integrated spoiler on the rear bumper, it looks identical to its Japanese rival. Even the 15-inch alloy rims look similar.

Aside from the identity crisis, it’s not bad looking, especially with the Audi-like high-mounted headlights. And, you don’t get that awful cheap plastic smell when you open the doors.

The seat materials feel durable and there are loads of standard convenient features that get a thumbs up.

There’s power steering, reverse park assist, audio steering controls, dual air bags and a CD/MP3 player. The boot looks tiny, but it can fold flat and open up some space.

But it could pose a problem on a road trip as there won’t be any space for a cooler box or a big picnic basket.

On the road it didn’t feel like it was going to fall apart when exceeding the 100km/h mark. It didn’t feel like the gear lever was going to break either or that the clutch pedal was too flimsy.

Steering didn’t feel too sturdy, but the 1.5-litre engine makes the car hold its own on the road. It’s also the same engine found in GWM’s other small car, the Florid, but with some mapping changes.

But I’m still a bit sceptical and would need to drive it a lot longer and further to be sold. That said, from what I have experienced, I’d add it to my list for first-time buyers.

» Follow me on Twitter @SpeedQueen 

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