That Chery is on a roll is not a matter up for debate and its growing sales figures in South Africa suggest this is likely to continue, spurred on by the new product being added to the Tiggo range – one of these being the Tiggo 7 Pro Max.

Launched as an addition to the existing Tiggo 7 range, the three-variant Pro Max options – including the all-wheel drive flagship on test – came with their own identity fronted by a new grille, boasting an accentuated diamond pattern.

Crafted from a dark gloss black polycarbonate weave, it is embellished with chrome, diamond-shaped highlights, while the lower sill and side intakes are tweaked and the new ‘Angel Wings’ LED headlamps give it some hefty street cred.

The LED light-up sequence, both front and rear, is quite a show and, as the sensors detect the key in hand, its LED lights perform a welcoming symphony of light, evoking a sense of occasion every time the driver approaches the vehicle. 

And that is not all. . . opening the driver’s door unleashes a mild welcoming symphony concert as the various systems gather themselves together.

According to Chery, the Tiggo 7 Pro Max had more than 20 optimisations, spanning interior and exterior design, body and chassis structure, as well as materials.

Seat Comfort

The driver’s seat has a comfort access option and moves backwards when the power is turned off to allow easy access. Touching the ‘Start’ button initiates its move back to the last memory position and brings with it the interior light show in the form of ambient light courtesy of a stepless LED light ring, which stretches from end-to-end, offering a spectrum of 64 hues to create an immersive ambiance.

The star of the dashboard is the 24,6-inch curved hyperboloid immersive screen that provides an ultra-high-definition display. This screen is the hub for information including climate controls and a wealth of entertainment options, including wired and wireless Apple CarPlay2, Offline Navigation as well as Android Auto.

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The one-piece, perforated leather sport front seats have electric adjustment and improved comfort with the heated and ventilated option.

These seats are extremely comfortable and undertaking a lengthy journey would not be a problem. They are not only comfy but provide the right levels of support over the bumps on our less-than-cared-for roads or when venturing a little off the beaten track.

Air Purification

The air-conditioning system is also upgraded and is equipped with N95-level (pm 2.5) air purification capabilities. For the Tiggo 7 Pro Max in Executive trim, the automatic quality control system (AQS) goes above and beyond by offering negative ion air purification.

Standard fare includes an automated rear luggage door that opens when the driver approaches, dual-zone ‘‘automatic climate control, ‘Hello Chery’ Intelligent Voice Commands, a panoramic sunroof and a state-of-the-art camera array that employs AI technology to provide a comprehensive view around the vehicle when needed. The wireless phone charging feature has been upgraded from 15 W to 50 W, ensuring rapid charging times for devices.

For car buyers, it is important to note Chery works on the what-you-see-is-what-you-get principle and there is not a long list of complex option packages made even worse when you are told “if you want that, you have to buy this as well” – something quite prevalent with the European automakers.

It comes with a long list of safety equipment and the driver safety/assistance is typical of Chinese brands with plenty of warning beeps and notices popping up on the screen. I was told quite often ‘you have been distracted for some time’ and, behind another car at an intersection ‘the front car has drived off’.

Some of these cannot be turned off but the initial annoyance factor diminishes over time and you quickly get used to the car communicating with you.

Safety Systems

Certainly, on the safety side, the systems work a treat and a gent laden with Christmas spirit who lurched out of the bushes into the road, lived to try again another day because the emergency braking initiated by the camera system operated faster than I could hit the brakes.

The Tiggo 7 Pro Max Executive has a level 2.5 Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) with 17 intelligent safety features, that include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), Rear Collision Warning (RCW), Driver Monitoring System (DMS) and, on the Executive 4WD model, Multi-Collision Brake (MCB) and Lane Change Assist (LCA).

It comes with eight crash bags, compared to the six in the standard Tiggo 7 Range.

The Max naming is not limited to fixtures and fittings and both power and torque are increased with the 1,6-litre TGDI turbo-petrol ATECO engine producing 145 kW and 290 Nm of torque, compared to the 108 kW and 210 Nm of the standard models.

It pairs this engine with a dual clutch seven-speed transmission.

Priced at R609 900, the Tiggo 7 Pro Max plays in the same arena as the Hyundai Grand Creta 2.0 Elite and Audi Q2 35TFSI and offers significantly more in terms of standard equipment as well as having more power and torque on tap.

My initial assessment of the standard Tiggo 7 Pro was it needed a bit more power and ran quite heavy on fuel consumption. The power issue is well and truly sorted with the Pro Max and, although it is now slightly heavier on consumption than the standard version – 7,8 l/100 km versus 6,8 l/100 km (from a 1,5-litre engine), it is acceptable for the performance.

With up to 1 672 litres of luggage space it swallows more than just a set of golf clubs and, with the various configurations is an ideal family traveller as well as easy commuter – despite the quite large dimensions but here too things are taken of with the hi-res reverse and 360 camera allow for easy parking and manoeuvring in tight spaces.

All-Wheel Drive

With ground clearance of 192 mm the Tiggo can take the scenic routes and the all-wheel drive is capable of negotiating some quite tricky muddy or sandy sections (but is NOT a full-blown 4x4) so I would not hesitate to take this on a lengthy road trip.

In every respect Chery has upped the game in the SUV market and is doing so at very competitive prices along with a 5-year / 60 000 km service plan and 1-million-kilometre / 10-year engine warranty. 

Colin Windell