5T55NL9G 2022 Beijing X55 7
2022 Beijing X55 7

More Chinese brands eye Australia

BRANDS like Haval and MG are rapidly climbing the sales charts, proving the Chinese automotive industry has upped its game in a big way.

Chery is also a fast-growing brand, particularly in South Africa, with plans to make a big move back into Australia.

Yet another Chinese maker has just launched a striking new SUV in South Africa with plans to build vehicles there for other markets.

It’s called the Beijing X55 and is the first product of the ‘Beijing-Benz’ alliance, a partnership between Beijing and Daimler.

The vehicle is one of several models built by of BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation), and is of similar size to Toyota’s Rav4 — but priced at the segment below.

BAIC, founded in 1958, already has a presence in South Africa with its B40 Jeep-style vehicle and X25 small SUV.

With the Beijing X55, the company is looking to move up, in much the same way that Haval has moved to distance itself from GWM.

Three models are on offer, with the entry-level X55 Dynamic about $34,000, mid-spec Elite $37,000 and the flagship Premium $39,500 in Aussie dollars.

All three models have a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine that sends 130kW and 305Nm through the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Most South African motoring writers who attended the launch of the X55 were impressed with its performance and smooth power delivery through the seven ratios.

Roadholding also scored well with fully independent multi-link suspension, with the base version rolling on 18-inch alloys and the mid/top variants filling out their arches with chunky 19-inch rims.

Drivers can also choose between four driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport and Smart, which learns driver behaviour.

IOL Motoring’s Jason Woosey described the Beijing X55’s exterior design as “sharp, striking and sure to find favour with buyers in this segment, but it’s even more arresting on the inside.

“The race car-like sports front seats with integrated headrests take inspiration from the Lamborghini Urus and the cockpit area looks suitably futuristic with its high-mounted floating console, with storage space beneath it, and separate floating screens for the infotainment and digital instrumentation.

“It looks really good, but there are a few functional drawbacks. For starters the ventilation system can only be operated via the central screen and there is no dual-zone climate control available in any of the variants. The system also lacks Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.

“But as a usable family car, the Beijing X55 still impresses with its spacious interior that offers plenty of legroom for front and rear occupants and a generous boot.

“It’s a Chinese model, so generous interior specification is practically a given.

“The base Dynamic model ships with push-button start, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, rain sensor, auto headlights, rear park distance control with reverse camera, on-board WiFi and a refrigerated centre console bin.

“Safety kit seems generous for the most part, with six airbags, ESP stability control and tyre pressure monitoring, but there is a glaring omission on the base model as it does not have seatbelt pre-tensioners up front. The other two versions do have this essential feature.

“The Elite model ups the luxury game with a panoramic sunroof, powered tailgate, leather-covered steering wheel, electric adjustment for the front seats and automatic deployment for the hidden exterior door handles.

“At the top of the pile the Premium derivative comes with front park distance control, front seat heating and ventilation, leather upholstery, eight speakers and ambient lighting for the front door pockets, among other additions.

‘The Beijing X55 is sold with a five-year or 150,000km warranty and five years worth of unlimited kilometre roadside assistance. A five-year service plan is optional.”

Production will soon start in Gqeberha, the near unpronounceable name of the Eastern Cape city formerly known as Port Elizabeth, which is also home to Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Isuzu KB production, while nearby Uitenhage has long been the address of VW, where all the Polos for the world’s right-hand markets are built.


CHECKOUT: Bring your passport 

CHECKOUT: Great Wall Cannon: Needs some balls

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *