BAIC, the 4th largest automaker in China, has launched in South Africa and will offer a range of vehicles, starting with the D20 hatchback. Details within…
There’s a new car brand in Mzansi and it’s called BAIC (pronounced ‘bike’). The arrival of BAIC in South Africa coincides with a massive equipment investment of up to R11 billion, to construct a plant in Port Elizabeth (which is currently underway) with local production expected to begin in the first half of 2018.
The BAIC D20 is based on a development of the platform of the first-generation Smart ForFour.
The BAIC SA Plant will start with a production capacity of 50 000 units per annum, and once fully operational, the plant will produce up to 100 000 units per annum with the intention of supplying vehicles to the rest of Africa. The construction of the plant will reportedly create more than 2 500 jobs during the construction phase while 10 000 jobs will be created directly and indirectly when the venture is fully operational.
South African consumers can expect a range of passenger vehicles, including SUVs and bakkies to be offered from BAIC in the future. To kick off its arrival in South Africa, BAIC is offering the D20 hatchback and sedan to customers from launch. For now, the D20 is imported from China, but not for long…
Neat, simple design for the D20 cabin, with comfortable cloth-upholstered seats fitted. Sunroof fitted to Fashion derivatives.
BAIC D20 – Key Details
The BAIC D20 hatchback range comprises 2 naturally aspirated engines, a 1.3-litre and 1.5-litre, while the sedan version is only offered with the 1.5-litre engine. The 1.3-litre unit has power and torque outputs of 75 kW and 128 Nm respectively, while the figures for the larger-capacity powerplant are 85 kW and 148 Nm of torque. BAIC claims a fuel consumption figure of 6.4 L/100 km for the 1.3-litre manual, 6.5 L/100 km for the 1.5-litre manual and 7.3 L/100 km for the 1.5-litre automatic.
There are two trim options available, the base-spec Comfort and the higher-spec Fashion trim option. A manual transmission is offered for both the 1.3 Comfort and 1.5 Comfort, as well as on the 1.5 Fashion hatchback. An automatic transmission is only offered on the high-spec 1.5 Fashion hatchback and on the 1.5 Fashion sedan.
Perceived interior quality in the D20 Comfort seems very good at first glance. Design similar to first-generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class.
Given the aggressive pricing of the D20, the standard specification seems very generous. Fashion models will even have a comprehensive touch-screen infotainment system, a sunroof and climate control. All models get electric windows, rear-park distance control, two airbags, ABS with EBD, Isofix child-seat mountings at the rear and auto headlights. The 1.5-litre models even get auto wipers.
Rear legroom is exceptional in this segment of the market, but the seatbacks are very upright.
We did not have the opportunity to drive the BAIC D20 at the brand's launch in Johannesburg, but static first impressions are favourable. The build quality, in particular, will be a talking point, with the D20 seemingly boasting superior paintwork, welding, fit and finish etc. compared with most vehicles at the R150 000 mark. BAIC has been building high-quality cars in China for a long time (including Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai), so should have quality sorted. Most impressively, the warranty is very long (5-years/120 000 km).
The D20 also offers more space than other products at its price point. Rear legroom is very generous and the base of the rear seat lifts up and folds forward, allowing for the rear seatbacks to fold flat. I also appreciate the fitment of height-adjustment for the driver's seat.
We will update you as more official information becomes available. For now, take a look at pricing for the new BAIC D20 hatchback and sedan and look out for full review on Cars.co.za soon!
BAIC D20 – Price in South Africa
1.3 Comfort M/T Hatchback R149 990
1.5 Comfort M/T Hatchback R169 990
1.5 Fashion M/T Hatchback R179 990
1.5 Fashion A/T Hatchback R189 990
1.5 Fashion A/T Sedan R209 990
The BAIC D20 is sold with a 5-year/120 000 km warranty and the first service is free. An initial dealer footprint of 20 dealers will provide service to customers nationwide with the number expected to grow in coming months. BAIC also offers vehicle finance in partnership with ABSA.
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