While I thought the rear end of the third and latest hatch from Chery resembled one of the Renaults, I soon grew quite fond of its individuality.
Remarkably highly specced, completed with airbags, leather seats, automatic windscreen wipers and headlights, MP3 audio system with half a dozen (excellent) speakers and steering-wheel controls, as well rear-park distance control and follow-me-home lights, among other things, it’s also not a bad-looking little hatch either. But then, its stylishness can be attributed to world famous auto-design studio Pininfarina.
Stylish shape can be attributed to Pininfarina.
The colour range, by the way, is quite small, but they’re delightful: passion red, inkstick black, Aegean blue metallic, Nasdaq silver metallic and Chery white.
Upping their game
There’s no doubt the Chinese carmakers are upping their game when it comes to what they’re landing on our shores, and so they should be, if they want to compete with the bigger guns here.
The five-speed manual J3, driven by a 1.6 motor (note: this won’t blow your hair back – it’s great on a straight and downhill, but I thought it a tad sluggish), is spacious and nicely finished, with comfortable seating and leg-room, and terrific visibility through its large windscreen. As with another Chinese vehicle I drove a few weeks back, I noticed some odd squeaks emanating from the rear, but could never pin down where they came from.
On the up-side, the J3 comes with half a dozen airbags and even climate control, alloy wheels, ABS and EBD. You also get halogen headlights. So all of the boxes have been ticked.
Interior is spacious and well appointed..
The manufacturer quotes a consumption figure of around 8.9 litres per 100km from the 57-litre tank: although I never worked it out specifically, it seemed a tad thirstier to me.
Smooth & comfy
On the road, it was smooth, pretty quiet, comfortable, and well-behaved. It handled well on all surfaces, including corrugation and dirt, and in wet weather, I was comfortable with its ability to deal with slippery roads.
The engine, incidentally, delivers 87kW at 6150rpm and 147Nm at 4300-4500rpm.
Like the little QQ3, the J3 (which costs just R179 900) grows on you, and by the time I handed it back, I’d developed a bond with the car and was sorry wave it goodbye!
The news that Chery is bringing out a sedan version of the J3 soon, as well as several other new models, should please budget-watching buyers.
This Chinese newcomer (the state-owned company was founded only in 1997) seems destined to make an indelible mark in the South African entry-level market.
And for those who collect trivia, some sources refer to Chery by the pinyin transcription of its Chinese name, Qirui. Try getting that pronunciation right!
Your J3 1.6 TXE comes with a three-year/100 000km warranty, three-year/75 000km service plan (15 000km service intervals) and three-year roadside assistance.
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