Chinese brand Chery is back with a couple of SUVs and the promise of more to come.
The name hasn’t been seen in these parts for 10 years, not since its cheapo hatches and SUVs fell foul of the safety police.
That was then and this is now, with its latest offering, a small SUV called the Omoda 5 scoring a full five stars for safety when crash tested by ANCAP.
It’s got plenty of cut-through too, with a style and shape that makes it stand out in a crowded field of competitors.
Chery says the letter “O” in the name represents “brand new” while the word “Moda” means fashion trend — in other words Omoda represents the start of a whole new fashion trend.
Although our test vehicle is petrol powered, a fully electric version of the SUV is expected to arrive in the first half of 2024.
What’s it cost?
Flashy styling, with plunging lines and red highlights that encompass the wheels paint an eye-catching picture.
A visor-like, mesh radiator grille and tail light array that stretches across the back look at once different but also familiar.
A fastback silhouette and two-tier rear wing not only set the vehicle apart, but also improve aerodynamics.
T-shaped running lights and piano-style tail lights make it stand out at night.
Omoda comes in two, well-equipped grades, BX and EX, priced from $32,990 and $35,990 driveaway respectively.
Synthetic leather and two-zone climate control with rear vents are standard, along with a six-way power-adjust driver’s seat, one-touch power windows for all four doors and stylish ambient lighting for the front of the cabin.
Both grades feature 18-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control, auto high beam, speed limit recognition, LED head and daytime running lights, auto lights and wipers and an auto dimming mirror.
There’s also front and rear parking sensors, remote engine start with ability to pre-heat or cool cabin, keyless entry and push-button start, auto fold power mirrors and a noise-reduction windshield with silent wipers.
EX ups the ante with a sunroof, electric tailgate, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, power-adjust passenger seat, illuminated vanity mirrors, red brake calipers and detailing, ambient lighting for the second row plus puddle lights that project the name on the ground.
The dash is dominated by a long binnacle that houses two 10.25-inch displays side-by-side, one for the instrumentation and the other to control the touchscreen entertainment system.
There’s Bluetooth, intelligent voice control, AM/FM radio, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless device charging and eight-speaker Sony audio.
USB-A and USB-C ports can be found in the lower area of the console, along with a 12 volt outlet and there is a wireless charge pad for phones.
Another USB-A port is built into the rear vision mirror mount and another is provided in the back for use of rear seat passengers.
Missing are digital radio and built-in navigation.
“Hello Chery” voice-control allows drivers to make phone calls or change the music, without having to take their hands off the wheel.
Omoda scores a full five stars for safety, with seven airbags, including a centre airbag.
There’s also a rear-view camera and autonomous emergency braking (Car-to-Car, Vulnerable Road User, Junction Assist and Backover).
Support systems include front collision warning, blind spot detection, lane keep assist, lane departure warning and emergency lane keeping, an advanced speed assistance system and driver monitoring system.
EX adds a 360-degree around-view camera.
Omoda is covered by a 7-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, 7-year roadside assistance and 7-year capped-price servicing.
What’s it go like?
Omoda stands 4400mm long, 1830mm wide and 1588mm high.
Chery claims the vehicle is designed around the golden or perfect mathematics ratio, where the ratio of height to width is equal to 0.8677.
It’s a figure that has fascinated mathematicians for centuries and has even been employed by artists including Salvador Dali, because it is believed to be pleasing to the eye.
But we digress.
Long story short Omoda goes okay, but could be much better.
It’s powered by a 1.5-litre four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that produces 108kW of power at 5500 rpm and 210Nm of torque from 1750 to 4000 rpm.
Drive is to the front wheels through a CVT-style continuously variable transmission, with nine steps or simulated gears, plus Standard, Eco and Sport modes.
It’s perky enough around town, with light steering that makes it easy to manoeuvre and park.
Out on the open road you need to keep an eye on the throttle otherwise speed tends to fall away as the engine revs drop and boost from the turbo disappears.
Omoda unlocks automatically as you approach the car.
Starting is simply a case of putting your foot on the brake and pushing the start button.
Early in the proceedings, however, it simply refused to start.
But this could be because we intervened in the middle of its auto unlocking sequence.
Shutting it off, relocking the car manually, then unlocking it again soon fixed the problem.
The bulky key fob makes no provision for attachment to a key ring, but it is perhaps understandable in the context of the walk-away locking system.
With a rounded shape it is designed to sit snugly in your purse or pocket where it can stay.
EX has an overhead camera as well as front and rear parking sensors and automatic reverse braking, so it’s unlikely you’re going to hit anything.
But there’s something not quite right about the rear vision mirror which provides the driver with a narrow, distorted view.
You get used to it, but it needs fixing.
Over the shoulder vision is hindered by large rear pillars.
Rear seat passengers benefit from aircon outlets located at the end of the console, but rear legroom is limited.
A smallish boot hides a space saver spare.
The suspension feels overly damped while the springs are way too soft.
As a result ride quality is harsh on anything but smooth bitumen, while the car tends to bounce or porpoise over more pronounced undulations in the road.
The company reportedly clocked up 30,000km testing Omoda in different regions of Australia, including the interior.
Too bad it doesn’t seem to have acted on any of the data it acquired.
The suspension needs work — maybe major, maybe just fine tuning.
Omoda doesn’t lack for performance, but quickly runs out of puff when you put your foot down.
Throttle response is far from smooth and progressive.
Small inputs are greeted by jerkiness while large prods with the right foot produce lag before turbo boost kicks in and the car surges forward.
The transmission could do with some attention too.
As well as Eco and Sport modes, the driver can access nine steps or simulated gears, with the ability to change gears manually with the squat console lever – but be warned because it’s awkward.