Since its inception, Chery has expanded its global reach by establishing partnerships and joint ventures with other carmakers - entering new markets in Europe and South America, among others.
In 2005, the carmaker attempted to establish itself in Malaysia by setting up its operations and a small assembly facility in Johor.
The following year, the brand introduced its subcompact QQ, followed by the Tiggo, Eaststar and Maxime models before exiting in 2015 due to poor sales.
Of late, the company has since made clear its intentions to make a comeback into the Malaysian market with its Tiggo 8 mid-sized sports utility vehicle (SUV) and Omoda 5 compact SUV.
The company said the SUVs will debut as early as June with the intention of positioning them just below the likes of Honda’s CR-V and HR-V line-ups in terms of pricing.
Both SUVs will initially be showcased in CBU forms to help tickle the fancies of interested car buyers with the final product to be delivered as a CKD unit.
The two SUVs will be followed by the introduction of the Tiggo 8 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) and an electric vehicle (EV) version of the Omoda 5 have been earmarked for introduction in the first quarter of 2024.
Meanwhile, the Tiggo 8 and Omoda 5 SUVs will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine producing 254hp and 390Nm of torque mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with an all-wheel drive system.
During a recent visit to the carmaker’s headquarters in Wuhu, China, a select few of the Malaysian motoring fraternity had a chance to sample the Tiggo 8’s handling prowess on a closed circuit located nearby.
While navigating through a figure-eight, braking and moose test, we’re happy to report the Tiggo 8 performed adequately while having a comfort-tuned suspension and rolling on 18-inch wheels with 225/60 series tyres.
Although this practical SUV responds well to steering inputs, pitch and roll were very much apparent – as expected from such a pairing of the suspension, wheels and tyres.
Flooring the pedal will get the front of the vehicle to rise while the rear takes a noticeable squat. Thankfully, the vehicle levels out quickly.
Here, drivers will appreciate the Tiggo 8’s response to steering inputs despite it rolling about, however, the moose test would further magnify such an experience since it requires sudden directional changes at higher entry speeds.
Such a test typically rewards a sportier setup which provides a more lateral experience than roll.
The high-profile tyres will inherently numb driver feedback from the tyres which will have them guestimating more than reacting to maintain control over the SUV - all while rear-seated occupants attempt to refrain from flailing about.
Getting hard on the brakes will get the job done to bring the Tiggo 8 to a complete stop and this will be accompanied by a noticeable amount of downward pitch.
Although the compact Omoda 5 was not on hand at the closed circuit, it was made available at the company’s test facility located within its assembly plant’s grounds during a plant visit.
There, we were able to test the Omoda 5 over different road surfaces which included rough surfaces such as cobblestones as well as large, medium and small bumps.
The facility is used to test newly assembled vehicles for any potential flaws in assembly and/or equipment and unfortunately did not allow the Omoda 5 to be manhandled - unlike the larger Tiggo 8.
Over such surfaces, the Omoda 5 showcased a stiff chassis that’s accompanied by a suspension that’s not only comfort-tuned but also highly compliant - much like the Tiggo 8.
Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) were also reasonably dealt with as occupants enjoy the rather plush seats.
Accelerating up to speed before getting hard on the brakes to bring the Omoda 5 to a standstill felt adequate as well.
The overall experience from these two SUVs has left a somewhat premium aftertaste from a plush interior that’s been blended with acceptable NVH levels, a highly compliant suspension and good build quality.
Clearly, Chery has come a long way as a carmaker, having upped its quality controls and as such has managed to build what seems to be vehicles that are not just more than road-worthy but also price-worthy. - JAY WONG