Page through the history books of Chinese manufacturer Chery and you will surely get to know that the brand isn’t exactly new to the local panorama.
It made strides in the automotive orb many moons ago before fizzling out… Before the end of 202, though, it was infused with new life and in our sentiment, it is depicting signs of a strong comeback.
Chery’s initial locally-sold products weren’t so great. Buyers were concerned about unproved reliability and. Quite frankly, it didn’t appeal to many. Simply put, they were just Chinese cars of that time. As they say, though, ‘do not use the past to judge a product’ – if we were to paraphrase.
Chery, like other Chinese brands in SA, have advanced in how they build cars and now produce cars that are of high quality and capability.
Leading the foray is Chery’s Tiggo 4 Pro compact SUV that boasts contemporary design cues and aesthetics that many have come to love, yes, this writer included. It features a grille with diamond-shaped holes, LED daytime running lights and LED head and rear lights.
In the case of our Elite SE test unit, it wore 17” machined alloy wheels with a dark chrome finish shod with 215/60 road patches.
Overall, the Chery Tiggo 4 Pro’s interior appointments are of good quality with other touchpoints getting contrast stitching, faux leather on the seats, as well as gloss black finishing. Also thrown into the mix of impressive equipment is a fully-digital instrument cluster and a 10.25” touchscreen multimedia system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality plus two USB ports.
Space inside? It’s adequate, backed by quite practical luggage space for sizeable items and several storage pockets including a centre refrigerated cubby that came in handy during the test.
For the most part, the Chery Tiggo 4 Pro drives beautifully in and around town but sadly, this sentiment is short-lived as is often the case with cars fitted with CVTs. The gearbox goes hunting and this is accompanied by noise from the engine bay as soon as you accelerate with intent.
However, the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 108 kW and 210 Nm behaved well. There are two driving modes available, Eco and Sport. Our drive was mostly done in the former since there is a lack of a mid-mode such as ‘Normal’ for everyday driving – a missed opportunity there.
There are small stakes of torque steer when pulling away from traffic lights but that slowly dies down as the car builds up momentum. Road manners are acceptable but the ride can be a bit jittery, sending jolts into the cabin. The 180 mm of ground clearance certainly came in handy during short stints off the tarmac.
Could this be the best model to ever come out of Chery? Yes, we reckon. The Tiggo 4 Pro in this Elite SE guise makes a buyable option in the compact SUV segment. It comes standard with a host of useful features that one would pay an arm and leg for in other competitors.
Disappointingly, though, the Tiggo 4 Pro isn’t the most efficient vehicle in its class after battling to get the fuel consumption figures down below the 8l/100 km mark.
Luckily then the Chery is slapped with a competitive price tag of R359,900 and if that is not enough to lure you, the Chinese manufacturer offers an unmatched 10-year / 1,000,000 km engine warranty and a five-year / 60,000 km service plan offered as standard.
The Chery brand seems to have finally found the right recipe for making great cars and the Tiggo 4 Pro is impressive enough to change our perception towards Chinese cars. This begs the question, if the budget allows, why not?
It is, however, early to tell the reliability of the brand’s cars but its resurrection in SA seems to have brought a notable change.