China’s got its game on

2012-08-11 16:03

Chinese cars can make you cringe just by thinking of them. Plastic, tacky and even smelly are some of the adjectives that come to mind. But no more.

Geely South Africa has recently launched their latest model, and it seems like they’ve been listening to the gripes – albeit it’s just a start.

The LC Cross or LCX is a big step up from the compact hatchback Geely LC city runabout. On the outside it still resembles a cute Panda bear, except this one eats the bigger bamboo shoots.

It still has the bold, big headlight cluster, 14-inch steel rims and that wide, open grille, but the front spoiler has a two-tone black and plastic bottom to give it a more rugged look.

The aggressive looks are about as far as it goes. Don’t try nudging another car from behind with it because its design bark does not quite match its build-quality bite.

It’s not an ugly car though and to make it look even faux tougher, the spare wheel is mounted on to the boot like most big 4x4s.

I would have preferred it if the boot opened sideways and not upwards, because you can actually feel the weight of that tyre when trying to open it with grocery bags in your other hand.

The inside has quality, material seats, and the dashboard and centre console have a pleasing finish.

There aren’t gaping gaps between panels, and buttons don’t feel like they’re going to fall off just by touching them.

I found it comfy and practical, and much to my surprise, boot space is enough for a rather large travel bag.

The rear seats fold completely flat so fitting bigger items like a few garden chairs is a breeze.

Although it’s a vast improvement on some other Chinese brands, I couldn’t help feeling in the beginning as if I was going to break the gear lever or feel the road right through the floor when I put my foot on the clutch pedal. But the prejudice was unjustified.

Remarkably, this is the top-of-the-range GT model and its price is still under R105 000.

After driving it and for a week, the 1.3 litre engine didn’t perform badly – yes, it’s not the most powerful, but it’s quick off the mark and can hold its own in traffic.

It also has comfort features that belie the price tag, like a roof rack, a rear-window wiper, electric side mirrors and an adjustable steering wheel.

I didn’t feel the car was going to topple over every time I went through a bend and I even felt safe behind the wheel.

This model has six airbags. All LCX models have power steering, air conditioning, power windows, central locking, a radio/CD player, ABS and EBD.

But do fork out the extra money for the GT with its extra airbags.

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