With plenty of power, all the luxuries you could desire, and now the addition of an on-demand AWD system, the latest Chery Tiggo 8 Pro MAX may just be the biggest performance SUV bargain around.

Even in its initial form, with a 1.6-litre turbo engine delivering a claimed 145 kW and 290 Nm to the front wheels, the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro was a hot performer in its own right. In fact, its performance figures were likely constrained by the available traction, because even this lower-spec Tiggo 8 could easily set its 235-section tyres alight when the throttle was applied too harshly in the lower gears.

When that torque spike hit around the 2 000 r/min mark, you could literally hear the mileage being peeled from the rolling stock despite the traction control’s best efforts. The 2.0-litre “MAX” variant arrived a few months later, but it likely didn’t improve matters, because there was yet more grunt on tap - 187 kW and 390 Nm, to be precise.

Yes, in-gear acceleration would have been stronger than with the 1.6, but getting out of the blocks would have been even more of a challenge for this fairly heavy (about 1 600 kg) SUV. To really put its power to good use, what the Tiggo 8 really needed was more traction, not more power, and that’s exactly what the range-topping Chery now received.

Expect the 0 - 100 km/h sprint, which already takes only 7.1 seconds in the (furiously wheel-spinny past 60 km/h) FWD model, to drop well below 7 seconds in the Tiggo 8 Pro MAX AWD. That’s blistering for a big SUV that barely costs more than R 700 000!

Related: The smaller Chery Tiggo 7 Pro MAX also offers this AWD system, but paired with the 1.6-litre engine. Get more info in this review.

Chery Tiggo 8 Pro MAX AWD system

The key feature in the new AWD model is an electronically-controlled clutch which can engage in 100 milliseconds, diverting half of that delicious torque to the rear wheels when the front tyres start to lose their grip. This will obviously pay dividends in low-traction driving conditions such as on sandy surfaces, but it will also go a long way towards harnessing the Tiggo 8 Pro MAX’s staunch outputs to greater effect in general use.

It is still a FWD-biased setup though, and low range or a locking rear diff aren’t on the cards either, so this is strictly a mobility-enhancing system rather than a rock-crawling add-on. Chery does mention that the AWD system was tested with input loads up to 10 times larger than the engine’s torque output, so it should prove to be durable in use.

The downside is added weight and increased rotating inertia in the drivetrain, which increases the fuel consumption. The Tiggo 8 AWD’s claimed average consumption figure of 8.7 litres/100 km is significantly higher than the FWD model’s claimed 7.6 litres/100 km, and real-world driving will likely see figures around the 10 litres/100 km mark. To compensate, the MAX AWD can take 6 litres more in its tank, so overall driving range should be similar between FWD and AWD models.

Related: Shop for a new or used Chery Tiggo 8 Pro from this luxurious selection on CHANGECARS.

Even more tech

Chery wouldn’t be Chery if it didn’t announce further specification enhancements along with this model update, of course. The extensive list of driver assistants already included automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-keeping assistance, but Chery loaded the AWD model with emergency lane-departure prevention and a collision evasion system as well.

This all goes on top of the digital cockpit’s huge dual colour screens, measuring almost 25-inches (63 cm) from side to side, a 10-speaker SONY audio system, wireless charging pad, heated and cooled electric front seats with memory functions, quilt-pattern leather upholstery everywhere, and an enhanced 360-degree camera system.

Related: If the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro is just a little too pricey for your liking, the Tiggo 7 Pro offers much of the same goodness in a more-affordable package.

A lot of features and performance for the money

Most of these features are optional extras on premium-branded SUVs, and a similar outlay will only get you about 70% as much power, much less space, and far fewer gadgets and seats from any of the German brands. With its starting price of R 731 900, the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro MAX AWD looks like a performance SUV bargain of note, and it’s bound to get a lot of attention from value-minded shoppers.

And honestly, the addition of AWD traction means that there is now no reason not to consider a Tiggo 8 as an alternative to the established premium-brand brigade. Yes, it doesn’t have the cachet of a truly desirable badge, but who could resist paying mid-level Sportage money for something with performance closer to that of a Tiguan R and a level of luxury and equipment of something twice the price? The 10-year/million kilometer first-owner warranty just sweetens an already complete package, and should ensure that we’ll see plenty of these budget rocketships storming down the overtaking lanes soon.

Martin Pretorius


Looking for a new or used Chery Tiggo or Omoda for sale near you? Pick one from this enticing array on CHANGECARS!