THIS might be the best Chinese manufactured car to reach South African shores, ever.
Launched this month near Plettenberg Bay, the new Geely Emgrand EC7 is a stunner.
Chinese cars have got a bum rap in the past for the dodgy quality and lack of verve and finish.
Not so the Emgrand.
Here is a car the size of a Toyota Corolla, with a 1.8 litre engine, that has a better finish and is a helluva lot cheaper – a comparable Corolla Sprinter sells for R246400.
Launching from a sniff below R150000, the high-quality and fullspecced new EC7 is a confident competitor in a market flooded by much more expensive cars offering this kind of quality and spec.
Two models will be available – the EC7 GL Luxury and the EC7 GT Executive (R164990).
Power comes from a GeTec 1.8-litre engine delivering 102kW with 172Nm of torque.
The EC7 accelerates from standstill to 100km/h in 10.5 seconds, and reaches a top speed of about 185km/h. The light-weight all-aluminium engine boasts technological advances such as a plastic intake manifold and CVVT (continuous variable valve timing), to name but a few.
The two 1.8-litre launch models are matched to a five-speed manual transmission as standard.
A right-hand drive model six-speed automatic version will be introduced to the local market before the end of the year.
In terms of safety, the Emgrand scored a full-house of five stars in the Chinese Ncap crash tests, and four in its very first attempt at the stringent Euro-Ncap collision tests.
World of Wheels spent two days driving the car on the roads in and around Plett and on the N2 back to Port Elizabeth.
Only the very picky would find fault with this car. We got carried away by the very good ride and handling but we were brought down to earth with a bump.
Just outside PE we hit a rainstorm, and visibility was bad.
No problem, just switch on the windscreen wipers you would think and all should be well again.
This is where the curse of the Chinese cars struck!
The wipers would not work, no matter how we tried.
Probably a fuse had blown, but no matter what we did the wipers remained dead still.
So we limped the rest of the way into PE and handed over the car to a waiting Geely official at the airport, who was just as mystified as to why they would not work.
Pity! It was probably only something small that should have been sorted out at the pre-delivery inspection.
Putting that incident aside, we still were very impressed with the Emgrand.
Oh yes, the EC7 also comes standard with a full-size alloy spare wheel.
Both vehicles will be covered by Geely’s five-year/100000km warranty (optional service plans are available) as well as two-year road side assistance for the ultimate in peace-of-mind motoring.
Do yourself a favour – drive one.