Cute Chinese hatchback

Bobby Cheetham

TEN years ago Chinese Great Wall Motors was just a twinkle in the universe. Today GWM is forging ahead in the motoring world producing quality vehicles which can stand the test of the best Europe and the rest of the world can offer. GWM is a rising star which can no longer be ignored, especially with the new offerings which are on offer to South Africa motorists.

The latest is the dashing new C20R which offers local car buyers an exciting new crossover-themed option in the compact hatchback segment. Its trendy design and feature-packed cabin are not the only attractions; the C20R is the first GWM to be offered with a three-year/ 45000km service plan as standard.

We recently had the C20R on test and came away impressed with the cute little car.

It was time to renew my driver’s licence, so rather than stand for hours in the queue at the Bay’s chaotic traffic department, I went to Alexandria, an hour’s drive from PE, where the friendly staff completed the whole operation in less than 30 minutes!

Just as impressive was the C20R’s performance on the road. GWM’s proven 1.5-litre petrol engine with variable-valve timing (VVT) powers the C20R.

This engine offers refinement and delivers 77kW at 6000rpm and 138Nm of torque at 4200rpm. Power goes to the front wheels via a slick five-speed manual transmission.

The engine not only endows the C20R with enough power to take that gap in the traffic, or on the open road, but also with good fuel efficiency. A combined cycle fuel economy figure of 7.7 L/100km is claimed for this model, resulting in a CO2emissions figure of 179g/km. Road holding and general driving dynamics were good.

The C20R comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels and, with a ground clearance of 172mm, is not only well suited to the rough and tumble of city driving, but also the occasional gravel road on the way to the weekend getaway.

The car is comfortable and has a surprising amount of goodies and gadgets which are standard equipment. Quality, luxury features and flexibility are not always the norms in the compact car segment, but the C20R has all those bases covered, and more. The driver’s seat is adjustable for height and so is the steering wheel, ensuring a comfortable driving positioning is easily attainable.

Air-conditioning, electric power steering, electric window and mirror adjustment, remote audio controls, height-adjustable headlamps, rear-park assist and a radio/ CD/ MP3 sound system with auxiliary and USB inputs are all part of the package, too.

However, we were puzzled at first about the poor quality of the radio reception.

As soon as we left the metro area and were just outside Port Elizabeth, we battled to get decent reception. Back in the city we soon discovered the bee sting aerial on top of the car was missing! Puzzle solved! We liked the boot which features a handy double-floor design and the rear seats can not only fold forward, but also offer reclining and fore/ aft sliding functionality.

The overall design theme in the cabin is one of sportiness and quality, best evidenced by the aluminium-look pedals, cylindrical instrumentation and tactile nature of the curvy facia.

Driver and passenger safety is provided by a full suite of safety systems and features.

Dual airbags are fitted at the front, disc brakes all-round, and the sophisticated ABS system is supported by electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and emergency brake assistance (EBA).

Isofix child-seat anchorages are provided at the rear and the doors feature child-lock protection.

The front seatbelts are height-adjustable.

To ensure that your C20R stays exactly where you left it, an alarm and immobiliser are fitted.

Priced at R154900 (including VAT and emissions tax), the C20R is backed by a comprehensive three-years/ 100000km warranty, two-years/ 24-hour roadside assistance and, for the first time on a GWM SA product, a service plan of three-years/ 45000 km.

Great little car from GWM, at an affordable price!

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