Tiggo 8

Exceptional in some areas, lagging elsewhere, Tiggo 8 is a bargain

Wow. Talk about a transformation! Totally revitalised, Chery tells us that this vastly improved latest generation Tiggo 8 Pro seven seat sport ute is full spec. That it is first-class travel from the ground up. Take a cursory glance and it looks promising. Featuring the Chinese carmaker’s striking next-generation Movement Design language, they suggest it hides Tiggo 8’s size.

Tiggo 8 Cuts a Striking Poise

Boasting a starry subtle satin chrome finished 3D grille splitting its effective fully automatic ‘Tiger Eyes’ DRL matrix-LED headlamps above a double as a strike plate, first impressions of 8 Pro are good. Stylish but not overly aggressive face polished wheels roll beneath an elegant glasshouse topped by a load-bearing roof rails and panoramic sunroof. That leads back to LED taillights with dual fog lights and a high-mounted central stop light, to cut an overall striking poise.

Step inside, mask the badge and you’d swear you were sitting in an Audi. Our tester’s privacy glassed ambient lit toffee leather clad triple screen cabin totally defies Tiggo 8’s price and positioning. Diamond-stitched leather clad six-way power memory drivers, and four-way passenger pews benefit an ergonomic design and high-density cushioning for best support. The 60:40 second row folds flat and even has a coat rack and armrest. The rearmost bench pops up out of the boot floor.

That 10.25” high-definition floating top centre screen runs a CarPlay and Auto, wireless charging, intelligent voice control and 8 speaker Sony surround sound rich infotainment system. It sits above the third 8” climate-control screen that works the fully automatic, dual-zone cabin environment, complete with a separate third system. It’s happily not all screen operated either. There also real solid buttons to run most core tasks. And three USB ports and a 12V charging plug too.

Chery’s done a splendid job inside

Chery has done a splendid job inside. OK, there are still concerns. Some of the graphics won’t suit everyone’s tastes. Notably the speedo and tacho solutions that are, well, Goofy. Never mind, some of the language in those the overly abbreviated gobbledygook info screen messages. Seems to come straight off a Chinese to English google translate. And the daft rear-view mirror has a fisheye surface that renders it practically useless.

Another thing the Chery Tiggo 8 is, is superbly quipped. Read remote auto-locking, keyless entry push button start with anti-theft alarm, auto high-beam, power windows, tyre pressure monitoring and even the perhaps expected noisy door open warning. Add rear park distance control, a 360-degree parking and rear-view camera and you are only short the kitchen sink. No, wait…

Safety is also top drawer. There are six omnidirectional airbags, traction, and roll stability control. ABS brakes with electronic force distribution and the expected ISOFIX child seat anchors. Plus, hill assist and downhill ascent control and getting fancy, Tiggo 8 Pro has several assistance systems too. From lane departure, blind spot, and front collision capable auto cruise control with front collision emergency braking, to traffic sign recognition.

Tiggo 8 Pro has a Feisty China Heart

Powered by a feisty 145 kW 290 Nm turbo 1.6 TGDI China Heart turbo four-pot, Tiggo 8 Pro is only front wheel drive. That via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission equipped with Eco and Sport driving modes. Chery says it’s smooth and powerful and on that front we won’t disagree. In fact, that little sixteen-hundred turbo lump quite impressed us.

It’s a little rorty in the background, but China Heart lugged the large Tiggo 8 with some aplomb. Only some silly anti hoon measures prevented it from easily breaking 8 seconds 0-100 in our tests. The rest of the envelope is also as good as anything twice the price. But as good as that, and as superb this car’s cabin may be, Chery is in serious need of some top chassis people in its engineering shop.

Handling is dire, that electric power steering leaden. You would expect something like a double cab Land Cruiser to be wayward on the tar because it’s designed to tackle the deepest Kalahari. To play with the big boys, an SUV like this rather needs to challenge hot hatchbacks than farm bakkies. There’s more than enough room for improvement though and we look forward to Chery’s next quantum leap in this department.

Looking Back to Go Forward

So, what do we have here? Well, to start this interesting conclusion, let’s go back to what we thought of about Chery before this Tiggo 8 Pro and its 4 and 7 siblings cropped up. Our oldest recollection is of demure sedans that made then Corollas seem like Sylvester Stallone. Sexy. Then we went through the QQ stage. Remember them? Those fading bug-eyed little Cherys with the paint peeling off improperly factory primered bumpers?

So, for starters, we wonder about that warranty. To be clear, the 10-year comprehensive million kilometres is for the engine only and it’s non-transferrable. The rest is covered by a 5-year 150,000 kilo warranty, compete with 5-years of roadside assistance. And a comprehensive 5-year 60 000 km service plan. So, we don’t expect any paint to be peeling off these bumpers! Let’s hope that’s the case as that, only time will tell. Chery also has an above average body of 50 dealers.

For the rest, Tiggo 8 Pro is a mix of giant leaps forward peppered with a few ghosts from the past and lessons still to be learned. Its gadgets are brilliant on the face of it. But you need to understand a special secret language to communicate properly with it. And those Goofy-eyed gauges got our goat. Especially in their green get up. Performance is very good. In a straight line. Alas compromised by dodgem car handling and poise.

Tiggo 8 Costs Half What You Expect

But as an everyday car that has it all and costs half what you expect, surely most of our concerns are rendered moot? Now if Chery can take our critique as constructive, go back, spend as much effort as it did on styling, luxury, and class on a Nurburgring grade chassis team. Then anglicise its systems’ language, cross a few Ts and dot those Is, and come back with all that on top of this package, at this price, the rest of the market has to be scared.

We are looking forward to that. Bring it on! – Michele Lupini

Images & road testing: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Executive
Engine: 145 kW 290 Nm 1.6-litre turbo petrol I4
Drive: 7-speed DC Automatic FWD
0-60 km/h:        4.17 sec
0-100 km/h:       8.20 sec
0-120 km/h:       10.99 sec
0-160 km/h:       19.65 sec
400m:             16.1 sec @ 146 km/h
80-120 km/h:      4.92 sec
120-160 km/h:     8.64 sec
VMax:             190 km/h
Fuel:             7.0 l/100 km
CO2:              155 g/km
Warranty/Service: 5y 150K/5y 60K km
LIST PRICE:       R546K
RATED:            7
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