Since its re-launch in South Africa as a wholly-owned company, Chery has wasted no time in building a dealer network and getting its Tiggo models onto the roads – following this up with the launch of a luxury brand under the Omoda name.

Just a recap – Omoda stems from ‘O’ for oxygen as the source of life and ‘Moda’ from modern. Apt naming, perhaps, for the intention to create a separate luxury vehicle division under the Chery umbrella in a similar way to what Toyota did with the Lexus nameplate.

When the test car arrived, I asked – as I always do – Mrs W for her opinion on the looks and she responded quite quickly to say it had a strong feminine appeal largely due to the coupe styling of the rear leading to the practical hatch.

Chery refers to the design language as ‘Art in Motion’ and there are elements of truth in that looking at it side on as the sloping roof that rests on darkened roof pillars appears to be floating, while the prominent front grille has an almost three-dimensional appearance from some angles.

Ground Clearance

The Omoda C5 is a SUV and rides on 18-inch wheels giving it both the expected ground clearance as well as adding to the overall visual effect.

At its starting level price point, the Omoda – R479 900 – comes up against the likes of the Mitsubishi ASX 2.0 Aspire and Chinese opposition in the form of the BAIC Beijing X55 1.5T Premium.

Inside is a world of luxury and the latest-level technology from a 64-colour ambient lighting scheme to the more practical uses of the dual high-resolution 10,25-inch display touchscreens that house the chain of command for the display of vehicle, safety and entertainment information. It also includes, among many other items, a wireless interface with mobile phones, using either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Just below the dual screens is a new multi-touch and multi-colour luminous air conditioning control pane that conveys climate-control information through the use of the digital display, while also adapting the controls based on circumstances and usage.

The shift-by-wire technology allows for a slim centre control stack with a large charging pad and a compact great shifter. This also allows for hidden storage under the centre stack.

Lots of Luxury Features

The list of luxury features is a long one an includes intelligent wireless charging, dual 12 V charging ports, voice commands, sport seats, USB ports for both rows of occupants, remote control from the key fob for the climate control system, power adjustment and ventilation for both the driver (6 ways) and passenger (4 ways), a powered sunroof that is also voice activated, an 8-speaker Sony sound system, additional ambient lighting in the rear passenger compartment and a full 360-degree camera system for a panoramic view of the vehicle.

The Omoda C5 received a full five-star safety rating from the strict NCAP crash-test authorities and it comes with six crash bags, including front, front side and full-length curtain bags. It also has ISOFIX child seat anchors, smart seatbelt pre-tensioning, anti-lock brakes linked to all four disc brakes, tyre-pressure monitoring and electronic stability program (ESP) as standard.

Driver assist systems include automatic high-beam/low-beam switching, adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alerts, traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assistance, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning.

On the Road 

Without delving into the engine details I let Mrs W take it out on the road, her observations following that being it has great acceleration and is really easy to drive and the smaller, chunky steering wheel gives it a sporty feel.

She pointed out her comfortable driving position with the steering wheels adjusted to suit, which meant it just obscures the top of the dash panel so you cannot see the indicator lights – something I could confirm when I got myself settled behind the wheel.

The Omoda is powered by a 1,5-litre turbo-petrol engine generating 115 kW at 5 500 r/min and 230 Nm of torque from 1 750 r/min, driving through a nine-step CVT gearbox that actually is able to find the right ratio for the requirements at the right time.

With Normal, Economy and Sport mode options, the characteristics of both engine and gearbox can be changed to suit driver needs – with the latter mode able to excite the car a lot more than one may think possible from a fairly large body and small capacity engine.

Fuel Consumption

Driven as a daily runner, fuel consumption will hover between 7,2 l/100 km and 7,5 l/100 km, dropping into the upper sixes on a highway cruise and a lot higher if Sport mode is kept actioned and used.

It is solid and capable out on the road, taking the twisties with confidence and no bad habits, all the while managing to iron our road ripples and keep out unwelcome noises to maintain the cabin ambience.

When I first met the Tiggo 4 Pro, the quantum leap Chery had made in the years they were not operating locally was just ‘WOW’ and, for me, good as it is, the Omoda just did not quite have that ‘Wow’ factor but I daresay as the brand grows, it could still surprise.

Colin Windell - proudly ALLTHINGSMOTORING