Beijing X55 will see you laughing all the way to the bank
We were pleasantly surprised by our short preview drive of South African invested Chinese carmaker’s BAIC’s new Beijing X55 SUV a few weeks back. Beijing is of course BAIC’s premium brand. Just as Lexus is to Toyota.
Now, after a little more time with this edgy new contender, we must admit that we’re starting to become increasingly impressed by it. Not least its price. Starting at R394K for the X55 Dynamic and shifting up through the middling R425K Elite and on to the flagship Premium at R454K, the Beijing X55 brings an incredible bargain to market.
But wait, there’s more to it than that. Much more! Best of all, the Beijing X55 will be built right here in South Africa from next year. Once BAIC’s state of the art Coega, PE plant’s under construction paint shop comes online. From there, BAIC will run complete knockdown production of 60,000 X55s in both petrol and electric trim for local and export use.
LAMBO INSPIRATION, MERC INFLUENCE
Pleasant on the eye, X55 is far more modern looking than its already neat hometown Chery and Haval rivals in this competitive market niche. Unashamedly Lamborghini Urus inspired, it’s built as part of BAIC’s Mercedes-Benz Chinese assembly partnership.
Flowing, if edgy curves bring a low 0,32 drag coefficient wind resistance. That’s emphasised by a stylish and futuristic grille design, attractive LED lighting, Range Roveresque hidden door handles and hidden wipers. The Dynamic car has 18-inch polished face alloys, while the top two get 19-inch anthracite rims.
The large sloping windscreen reaches up to a giant panoramic roof on top models. That has most interesting high speed, rain, and overnight auto closing features. Step into an intuitive airplane cockpit feel. Futuristic, spacious and 3D lit by night, X55 boasts all the latest electronic treats we’ve come to expect.
BEIJING CRIBBED LAMBORGHINI SEATS
But it’s the cabin’s accommodation bits that impress most. Stylish and comfortable, it a surprising place. The attractively minimalist dash features great fit and finish. Never mind soft touches, and style you’d expect from a far more premium brand.
BAIC makes no bones that it cribbed the Lamborghini Urus’ sexy seats but, they tell us that they used Mercedes technology to build them. They look spectacular, especially in the Premium’s optional red get-up. The chairs also feel great and possess the seating position of a racer.
Beijing’s 10.1-inch CarbitLink infotainment is run by touchscreen and an alarmingly uncomplicated aircraft style two-toggle multifunction steering wheel. It takes a minute to understand it all, but once down pat, this system is so refreshing. Revolutionary among a plethora of idiot such systems elsewhere.
THE TROUBE WITH TOUCHSCREEN INFOTAINMENT
We prefer knobs and switches to touchscreen, but we’re stuck with the latter on X55. Not knowing its nuances, I pulled my hair out, but once briefed, the system is OK. Bring back buttons!
That’s accompanied by a 10.25-inch digital instrumentation you can toggle info on, dark or light settings and conventional and woke layouts. One of those should satisfy you. There’s Bluetooth and a platoon of USBs. But no inert Android or IOS mirroring. Or automatic climate control, but I found the manual system efficient enough.
X55 does get latest tech cabin air filters, while the steering wheel and gear knob are coated by antibacterial material. Add keyless start, faux leather furniture, and four Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Smart driving modes, and a long list of stuff.
X55 1.5 TURBO DOES A 2-LITRE’S JOB
X55 is powered by a modern, downsized, BAIC inhouse built 130 KW 305 Nm Miller Cycle 1.5L VGT turbo petrol engine. It does the job of a regular 2-litre. Coupled to a 7 Speed dual-clutch transmission, X55 delivers a competitive 7.8 second claimed 0-100 km/h sprint. On the flipside, Beijing claims measly 7.8 litres per 100 km fuel consumption.
MacPherson front and multi-link rear suspension and an impressively sporty 51 to 49 front to rear weight distribution on a 2,665 mm wheelbase, endow X55 with great stability. Higher profile tyres bring a comfortable and smooth, yet stable ride on bumpy surfaces. Handling is safe and secure.
Easy to drive, the X55 offers positive feedback. The car naturally possesses a more than acceptable degree of body roll. It pulls well, accelerates impressively, and seemed economical enough for launch conditions.
BEIJING X55 STARRED ON THE OPEN ROAD
Our knowledge of how it behaved on track at our previous introductory drive confirmed how well this front wheel drive machine handled. Stability assistance instantly sorts any irregular steering and braking inputs.
Four aboard in 33C heat at Highveld brought about a bit of launch failure. Nothing a little tweaking off these early run models by better matching the robot clutch, and off-idle throttle control, won’t kill. Open road driving however proved utterly effortless, with well-coordinated automatic gear selection. Comfortable too.
None of its nannies seemed-over intrusive on the road, which is good. Talking nannies, X55 brings 5-star Asian NCAP safety is courtesy of six airbags, rear seatbelt reminders and a driver awareness warning.
X55 Delivers FASTER, LEANER, SMARTER BEIJING PROMISE
There’s Bosch ESP, ABS braking with EBD and EBA and an electronic parking brake with hill hold and descent control. Add crash auto unlock doors, tyre pressure monitoring, and front and rear park sensors.
BAIC suggests that its Beijing X55 brings unbeatable value for money to the South African compact SUV market. That’s the understatement of the year! Not only does it finally take BAIC mainstream, but the Beijing X55 does a hall of a lot more, too. It’s a compact, luxurious, and modern, futuristic, and tech-rich Chinese SUV all dressed up as a Urus.
It is here to take on the likes of Korea’s Sportage and Tucson, Germany’s Tiguan, and others, and a fleet of Frenchmen. Never mind its Chinese brethren and fellow other Orientals in this fiercely fought niche. And none of those rivals will be smiling about it.
X55 is PRICED TO KILL PREJUDICE
See, like its Haval and Chery rivals, the X55 is priced to make any prejudice against yellow metal, completely irrelevant. And being sexier, sharper, and generally cheaper than those rivals, let alone, soon built in SA, Beijing X55 owners will be laughing all the way to the bank. And that much you simply cannot beat.
All Beijing X55 models come with a 5-year, 150,000 km warranty with an additional 2-years and 50 000 km on the drivetrain. A 5-year, 60,000 km manufacturer service plan is free on cars bought in 2022, but will add R16,800 to the price from 1 January 2023.
Pricing BAIC Beijing X55 Dynamic R394K BAIC Beijing X55 Elite R424K BAIC Beijing X55 Premium R454K