In describing things that are vastly different, there are many superlatives and expressions such as ‘poles apart’ or ‘as different as night and day’ to name but two – yet none really described the quantum leap made by Chery between the last Tiggo sold here and the new Tiggo 4 Pro I got to drive briefly ahead of its official launch next month.
Design, style, fixtures, fittings, comfort, noise levels, performance have all risen to new heights. True, that is just making the comparison between the old version and the new. The acid test will come when it is compared directly against its competition such as the Haval Jolion and Ford EcoSport among them.
This, however, is not the time for such comparisons as the drive experience was fairly limited – just a taster.
The Tiggo 4 Pro will be the first model to launch in South Africa, with deliveries to customers scheduled for late November, shortly after the opening of the first 30 dealerships.
Says Tony Liu, Executive Deputy General Manager, Chery South Africa: “The Tiggo 4 Pro will be one of the most advanced SUVs in the compact urban SUV class when it is launched to the public in November.
“At the same time, it will be one of the most competitively priced models in its class. It is only fitting that it will be launched first in South Africa, which incidentally is the first country on the globe to launch the right-hand drive version.”
Price will naturally be a major player in this new equation but that will be announced only at the official launch in November.
The Tiggo 4 Pro is the first ambassador of the modern Chery design language. It includes a large grille with integrated LED headlamps and LED daytime running lights. If nit-picking, this grille is, perhaps, a little too similar to the Hyundai style.
Depending on the specification level, the Chery Tiggo 4 Pro will be shod with 16-inch or 17-inch machined alloy wheels. I drove only the Tiggo 4 Pro and the entire external package sitting on those wheels presents a very neat looking vehicle, proportionately accurate and rather neat looking.
The Tiggo 4 Pro is powered by a 1,5-litre petrol engine and a choice of two manual and a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Entry-level models will be fitted with the normally aspirated variant of this four-cylinder engine, sporting intelligent variable valve timing. This engine is rated to deliver 85 kW and 141 Nm of torque. Power is delivered to the front wheels through a five-speed manual transmission or CVT.
The flagship version of the Tiggo 4 is equipped with Chery’s TCI turbo-charged engine. This turbo-petrol engine delivers 108 kW and 210 Nm of torque to the front wheels through either a six-speed manual transmission or CVT.
The Tiggo 4 Pro offers a choice of Eco or Sport driving modes, the latter injecting a suitable measure of urgency into the vehicle. For a CVT gearbox, the Tiggo version works a lot better than many on the market, helped by the fact the engine is turbo-charged so the hunt for the right ratio is swift and not the long-winded whine often associated with these gearboxes.
There is a touch of turbo-lag but nothing too serious or that would impact a driver in the normal use of the car in and around town and on the annual holiday trip.
In terms of handling, as expected there is a bit of front-end push into tight corners but even on the standard fit Chinese tyres, it behaved with impeccable manners. Kitted with tyres more specific to our roads (especially urban dirt roads) this would improve even more.
While aimed at the compact SUV category, the Chery Tiggo 4 Pro has a 2 610 mm wheelbase and an overall length of 4 318 mm, placing it much higher against larger SUVs and crossover vehicles.
“The Tiggo 4 Pro is also one of the first models to ride on our new six-dimensional beam platform, which we call the 6D Longitudinal Beam Structure. More than two thirds of the vehicle’s frame and structure is built with high- and ultra-high strength steel, and the 6-dimensional design gives it unmatched tortional rigidity and crash safety,” says Liu.
All models of the Tiggo 4 Pro will be equipped with passive and dynamic safety systems, including two or six airbags (depending on the model), vehicle stability control on all models, hill hold control and, on higher specification models, hill descent control and cruise control.
As one of the newest models in the Chery global family, the Tiggo 4 Pro will introduce dual-screen luxury as a standard feature in the compact SUV class.
Entry models have a 3,5-inch TFT full colour screen in place of a traditional analogue instrument panel, while higher specification models increase the size to a full 7-inch screen.
Taking centre stage in the cabin is the second large full colour screen. This screen is a 10,25-inch capacitive touch screen that incorporates most of the vehicle control and is equipped – throughout the range – with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity and a DVD player.
All models also have air-conditioning, power windows all round and automatic headlamps, to name but a few luxury features. Luxury versions add even more specifications, including a powered sunroof, an intelligent voice command system and climate control.
However, on the Tiggo 4 Pro the one truly cute feature is the voice control that even allows you to command the system to open or close your window.
I look forward to some extended seat time in the newcomer.