The compact SUV sector is going strong at present and may even give the medium SUV sector a run for its money this year if the cost of living crisis continues.
Moreover, price increases are putting medium SUVs increasingly out of reach, and compact SUVs are no longer quite so compact as they once were.
The sector is chocka full of entrants, over 15 at last count. Add to that the new Omoda C5 1.5T. This is essentially the base model in the three-variant line-up that comprises the 1.5T, 1.6T and the E5 electric model.
All are front-wheel drive, though an AWD 1.6T is a likely starter here as well. Lower spec models are available overseas but Omoda NZ will probably only bring in a base model for fleet buyers.
Omoda is a new division of Chery Motor, and the C5 is the initial offering. Larger C9 and C7 SUVs will follow soon enough, some as PHEVs, along with offerings from sister brand, Jaecoo.
Omoda is aimed at young, fashionable and tech-savvy buyers, Jaecoo at the more mature set.
The vehicle you see here uses a turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder petrol engine that develops 108kW and 210Nm. Power arrives at the front wheels via a CVT that has nine steps if you can be bothered.
We didn’t because performance using the throttle is perfectly adequate. Claimed fuel use is 6.9L/100km and this happily runs on 91 octane unleaded fuel.
Evidently it will complete the 0-100km/h run in 9.9 seconds whereas the more potent (147kW/290Nm) 1.6L turbo variant takes two seconds less.
That uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission instead. The C5 Omoda is well specified in top trim, and beats out many existing rivals.
Included in the lengthy list are a powered tailgate and sunroof, wireless charging, heated wheel and front seats, electric operation for both pews up front, a tilt and telescope steering column, surround camera, ambient and LED lighting, and dual digital screens inside a single glass panel.
There’s also autolocking and unlocking via proximity key and the tailgate will open automatically providing you approach the rear of the locked vehicle correctly. Trunk capacity is moderate at 378L.
Inside are leather-like upholstery for the nicely bolstered seats, standalone controls for the AC system, and enough safety items for the vehicle to attain a five-star ANCAP rating.
The annoying ones are switchable too, and there aren’t many of them. Traffic sign recognition notifies you with a single bong if you’re over the limit.
A distraction camera isn’t overbearing; it alerted us but once. There’s intelligent voice command too, which activates the sunroof, selects stations from the Sony sound system, and will respond to whatever name you want to give her.
This looks quite imposing – 4400x1830x1588mm – and slick too with its bejewelled grille, and red external highlights for the calipers, 18-inch alloys, side sills and mirror caps. There’s a contrasting black roof and even scrolling indicators.
While it seems sizeable, it is said to weigh under 1400kg ready to go. So while the output might seem modest it actually gets along surprisingly well.
Overtakes are easy and acceleration is a shade better than class average, 0-100 taking nine seconds. In Sport mode, the power is continuous while in the everyday (Eco) mode, it shifts between steps if you floor it.
The CVT works just fine, getting the most out of the turbo-fired engine and while the latter is audible it’s tyre noise you hear more of inside, the average over chipseal in the 73dB range.
C5 gets off the line nicely, with little lag, no torque steer, and it feels breezy in town, the urge readily to hand from low revs.
On the open road it cruises at 100km/h with 1800rpm showing, fuel use in the low sevens on the motorway, eights elsewhere.
Ride and handling are also nicely sorted, the former taking precedence. Seats are comfy too, despite a lack of lumbar adjustability, though taller folk might feel the sunroof is invading their personal space.
This corners well enough, the grip good, and it holds a line, understeer well telegraphed by tyre squeal.
There’s some roll, as you’d expect of something that rides the bumps so well. Steering is quick enough but lacks feel and the weighting is electrically digital.
The turning circle is tight, however. A high frequency vibration at the brake pedal and average stopping distances were noted but overall build quality seems sound.
The $64k question is what this will cost which is unclear at present. We’d expect pricing to begin in the late 30k region, and into the 40s for the top spec 1.5 and 1.6 models.
An EV (E5) is also coming, likely around the $60k mark. They will have a seven-year/unlimited km warranty along with seven years of roadside assistance.
All in all, this seems a promising start from the newcomer which is selling well across the ditch.
|Omoda C5 1.5T
|1498cc / IL4 / T
|115kW @ 5500rpm
|230Nm @ 1750-4000rpm