One phenomenon to another, Omoda to the flowers

Dunlop Sort Maxx

Omoda? What the hell is that you may ask? Well let’s start with the name. The O in Omoda is represents Oxygen. Life and vitality. The ‘Moda’ bit is Latin for Modern. And the fashionable lifestyle. That is how the giant Chinese carmaker wants us to look at its new global brand, which has quite significantly just arrived in South Africa.

Chery’s no-holds-barred clean-slate take on a cutting edge motoring, Omoda aims to embrace youth, diversification, and globalisation through a powerful brand from the very outset. And all that starts with this sporty compact SUV Omoda C5. Which means this car has a tough job to do, but can it pull all that off?

Well to put it to the acid test, we put the newly introduced C5 Luxury to a little real world test in a stunning little road trip to one of the wonders of the world. The phenomenon of annual flourish of Cape West Coast flowers.

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To be honest if first impressions count, our sexy slightly electric blue Omoda C5 quite literally stopped the traffic. Those brave enough did not hesitate to ask what it was. The rest just stood there, generally tickling their chins with a ‘what the hell is that?’ look on their faces. Well it certainly looks the part and while it split opinion, to an extent, most people seemed to love the look.

Chery calls its Omoda design language Art in Motion. It centres around that seamlessly multi-dimensional star diamond grille, ‘T-Sharp’ LED DRLs, and boomerang front headlamps. The sloping, ‘floating’ roof sits on darkened pillars atop flowing flanks with sharp creases and a side profile ‘mathematically calculated‘ to play with light.

That Offset by 18” black alloys in 215/55 rubber, and complex X-Wing taillights under a stylish double stacked roof spoiler. Our Luxury version happily loses the vibrant red detailing that some may find garish. But others closer to the core market type will probably want all that anyway, so it remains available on other models.



Chery tells us that Omoda’s new man-machine interface was evolved off blank slate to take its own seamless and popular voice commanded digital interface next level. Boasting highly customisable touch-sensitive dual high resolution 10.25” driver’s and touch-sensitive central displays, the CarPlay and Auto-rich system even has a real cool a full 360-degree panoramic vehicle view camera trick.

That comes alive when negotiating tighter corners or situations and depicts the car from the rear three-quarter in alarmingly realistic display on the central screen. And it actually does help ease anxiety that may arise in such circumstances. The screen itself is not too big and does the job well enough. Although it still takes a bit of getting used to the general system logic.

That said, we mentioned that some of the language and logic of we originally met in the Chery Tiggo 8 we drove last year, was a little wanting. So we’re pleased to report that the new Omoda system addresses most of that. Perhaps not yet quite enough, but it’s a good step in the right direction. This system is far easier to live with, but still uses odd language and logic that may take a little more local knowledge to properly get on with.



The central screen sits above a new a luminous new self-cleaning INS multi-touch multi-colour air conditioning control panel. This displays a degree of info, while also real time adapting the touch controls it displays to circumstance and usage. It’s probably the best touch-based system we have used so far. But we still prefer real knobs or buttons for the main climate temp and fan functions. Like the main audio volume is. But tuning not.

The rest of the cabin is pretty cool. Dual 12V charging ports, USB and USB-C ports for both rows complete the tech offering, while cool 64-colour ambient lighting linked disco-like to Sony 3D sound 8 speaker sound. There’s climate control, cruise control, and intelligent voice control for everything from air temperature to sunroof operation. And there’s a power sunroof and tailgate too.

Comfy and smart leather upholstered six-way driver and four-way passenger power sport seats sit each side of a tall centre stack topped by an iffy compact shift-by-wire gear knob. It’s a little temperamental to use and had us cussing a few times as we shifted to reverse or back while manoeuvring. The centre console has a large, intelligent wireless charging pad with hidden storage below, and soft damped glove box grab handles.



Voice commands a wide variety of the functions, from sport seat settings to the power sunroof and much more. The Omoda C5 has a 3D start-stop button, but like several other functions including the high-grade filtered climate control, the car can also be started remotely via the key fob.

Fire it up and the high-output 115 kW and 230 Nm minimal heat energy loss 1.5 litre turbo petrol engine comes to life with a healthy growl. The nine-step continuously variable transmission feels very much like an automatic in normal driving conditions. But a good stab at the throttle or wring its neck and its true identity emerges. All the while it sounds good and pulls impressively too.

Handling is a bit wayward and steering wooden in Eco mode. But it transforms quite nicely in Sport to deliver a rather unexpectedly athletic attitude and performance. We found that 6.9 litres per 100 km fuel claim to be a bit brazen in everyday driving, especially when pushing on a bit. But it was impressive enough in gentler urban commuting, and while spotting those flowers. Ride is good. Even on serrated gravel. And the Omoda is quiet and comfortable on the open road and in town.



Packing full five-star NCAP safety around its 78% very high strength steel shell, our Omoda also had an electronic stability program, six front, front side and full-length curtain airbags. Add ISOFIX child seat anchors and smart seatbelt pre-tensioning inside. And four disc ABS brakes, tyre-pressure monitoring and electronic stability control, high-low-beam switching front and rear parking sensors. LED emergency brake lights, and speed control optional speed limiting. This Luxury version also includes Advanced Driver Assist with emergency brake assistance.

adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, traffic-sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assistance and departure warning, and forward-collision warning. Top models include automatic emergency braking and an innovative emergency lane keep assist for level 2.5 autonomous driving.

Being a lifestyle statement, Omoda comes with a few hip add-ons for the funkier young owner. Or the Omoder, as Chery likes to call them. The exclusive O-Universe gets exclusive previews on new Omoda models, access to Omoda’ exclusive to fashion line and O-Club social platforms. And your Omoda of course comes with a 5 year 150,000 km car warranty and 10 years or a million kilometres on the engine, and a 5 year 70,000 km service plan.



So, getting back to the crux. Is this funky new Chinese SUV going to make an impression on the South African market? Well, the easiest way to answer that is to mention how many Chinese cars are already selling like hotcakes in this market. They’re becoming epidemic on our roads. And for damn good reason.

These modern Chinamen bring a hell of a lot of car for a shockingly small amount of money. All of them have their little quirks and nuances, but nothing enough to persecute them for the immense difference in price to anything that dare call it a rival. Blue blooded pedigree or not.

Now Chery, one of SA’s biggest Chinese car players, has taken it next level to make this Omoda even more exciting, that much easier to live with and as sexy as anything else out there. And it will still cost you under five hundred grand to drive this C5 out of the showroom, brand new. With everything we tell you about above, part of the deal. All our intensive few days driving this surprising car to a phenomenon achieved, was to prove the car a phenomenon too. – Michele Lupini

Images: Michele Lupini, testing: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Omoda C5 1.5T 230T Luxury
Engine: 115 kW 230 Nm 1.5-litre turbo petrol I4
Drive: 9-step CVT FWD
0-60 km/h:        4.57 sec
0-100 km/h:       9.46 sec
0-120 km/h:       12.99 sec
0-160 km/h:       27.25 sec
400m:             17.0 sec @ 1456 km/h
80-120 km/h:      6.24 sec
120-160 km/h:     14.36 sec
VMax:             190 km/h
Fuel:             6.9 l/100 km
CO2:              169 g/km
Range:            725 km
Warranty/Service: 5y 150K/5y 60K km
LIST PRICE:       R477K
RATED:            8

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