FIRST DRIVE | Omoda C9 raises the bar for Chinese style and luxury
The Omoda C9 is an even larger and flashier new Chery alternative. The brand revealed the model at last year’s Festival of Motoring and it ignited the imagination about how far the Chinese can take the luxury game. It’s not on sale in South Africa yet, but we’ve had our first and very short taste of an Omoda C9 prototype ahead of its local sales launch in the next few months.
Chinese brands, and especially Chery, have been firing on all cylinders since their new dawns in South Africa.
The first model to relaunch the new-look brand was the Tiggo 4 Pro crossover SUV. A whopping 10,054 units found homes in 2023, making it the 12th most popular car in the industry and the top Chinese seller in South Africa.
The brand also offers larger Tiggo 7 Pro and Tiggo 8 alternatives and expanded to include the new Omoda subsidiary with posher and boldly styled crossovers with signature honeycomb grilles. Chery is not done adding models, as demonstrated by its plans that include the introduction of the new Jaecoo range of crossover SUVs.
The new Omoda C9 is a very good-looking car. The styling is characterised by cleaner, more suave design lines than Chery’s core range, coupled with super-thin LED lighting up front, a curved roof and a quartet of exhaust pipes at the back.
It’s a coupe-SUV and seemingly enjoys the benefits of the 2012 tie-up between Chery and JLR as it gives off Range Rover Velar vibes, including the pop-out door handles associated with the British brand.
The vehicle provides a spacious, leather-clad cabin, even for rear passengers, below a lowered roofline, and the boot looks capacious enough for family-sized luggage through a powered tailgate. All the rear seats are massage-enabled, heated, cooled and electrically operated for recline, fore and aft movement.
In front is a floating bridge that separates the front passengers. The Omoda brand is more expressive, lifestyle orientated and designed to attract young or young-at-heart techies. It also has a panoramic sunroof, a curved screen, augmented-reality navigation, facial recognition, a nine-speaker Sony sound system and a 50W wireless ultra-fast charger. More specifications will be uncovered at the launch, but the drive was more telling.
With a 400T model badge, the Omoda C9 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0l petrol motor with 193kW and 400Nm on tap. It feeds an all-wheel drive system via an eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s not short on acceleration poke, though we were allocated the impractical tarmac of a business park as a test ground for the left-hand drive prototype. We’ll have to wait for the launch event to get to grips with its full power and fuel consumption potential.
Initial impressions are of a practical and sophisticated smoothie. It’ll be the most expensive Omoda to date when it launches in South Africa some time in the second quarter of 2024. Indicative pricing suggests R800,00 to R850,000.
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