What is it?Parked outside my house the other day, a nice man in a tweed jacket came over to me and asked simply, what is this? Score 1 for attracting attention, then. This is the latest product from Great Wall Motors – GWM - its called the C20R and I have no idea what that means, and they didn’t explain it in the press release. But it is based on their popular C10 hatch.
What makes it different?It wants to be a bit of a crossover so it features raised suspension to help you tackle the odd gravel road. A couple of black plastic bits and pieces around scuff areas give it a tougher look, the front design is new and I think it looks rather good. Standard 16 inch alloy wheels look the part too.
Why go Chinese?If you think back 20 years, no one was buying Korean cars, and now brands like Hyundai/Kia are just massive. I think the Chinese industry is going the same way; they certainly have the resources. For me, GWM is taking the right steps, they are on sale in over 100 countries. In SA, they have over 70 dealers and 150 million Rands worth of parts in the warehouse.
What’s it like to drive?This particular car is starting to feel very close to its rivals indeed, in terms of interior quality and drive characteristics. There are a few irks here and there, you can plainly see where the airbag is packed and the windscreen wipers make an interesting ticking sound each time they activate. Curiosities at the most, but something to ask the dealer about.
We were the first to receive a test unit and this car is so new, it hasn't had a chance to really warm up yet. Think of it as an athlete that hasn't stretched before going for a run. The only engine available is a 1.5 litre non-turbo petrol, with 77kW and 138Nm. It doesn't feel low on power, particularly at urban speeds, but feels a bit light on torque.
That said, I was quite impressed with the engine and ride quality. It was a little noisy at highway speeds, but nothing a little radio can’t drown out. While the engine noise might smooth out as the engine wears in, the wind noise above 120km/h probably won't.
I didn't appreciate the raised driving position, but I know a lot of people do. The driver’s seat adjusts for height but doesn’t seem to go down, which is odd. Grabbing second gear feels a bit too long, like that particular gear might be part of another gearbox. Small things like this could be improved easily though.
Where does this car fit in to the local market?In terms of size and type of engine, this car has a lot of rivals, particular from Japan, but to be honest I think we have to compare apples with apples – it’s not quite at the refinement level of a Suzuki Swift or Hyundai i20.
But, it is a fair bit cheaper than both of those, and I would compare it to cars like the Renault Sandero Stepway, and the Polo Vivo Max.
GWM C20R RivalsThey are all quite close on price:
GWM C20R: R154 900 all inclusive Polo Vivo Maxx: R164 300 Renault Sandero Stepway: R149 900
It’s all pretty close, but the GWM does offer the most standard kit, including electric windows all round, electric mirrors, USB/Aux media input and park distance control.
Interestingly, the rear seats slide back and forth as well as fold completely flat, so the load area does become particularly useful. The interior is spacious indeed, and they've made an effort to make sure you can make the best use of the space.
For the first time on a GWM, a service plan of 3 years is included as well.
GWM C20R Review SummaryPersonally, I’m the kind of motorist who will take that kind of money and go and play in the second hand market. But if you’re looking for something affordable, spacious and with low running costs, the Chinese are starting to offer real competition to the establishment.
While the engine tech may be a little behind the establishment in terms of efficiency, the brand is certainly catching up in most other departments.
The competition is close now and I have a feeling GWM will be happy to favourably negotiate your trade in, which may mean you save money on your monthly installments on the new car. They’re an eager brand trying to really grab a foothold in South Africa, and consumers should make the best of that approach while it lasts.
GWM C20R Price in South AfricaThere is only model, with all options standard:
R154 900 (all inclusive of VAT and emissions tax)
Quick Specs GWM C20R
Engine: 1.5 litre non turbo 4-cyl petrol Fuel consumption: 7.7 litres/100km (claimed) Power: 77kW at 6000rpm Torque: 138Nm at 4200rpm Fuel capacity: 40 litres