It was well more than 10 years ago that I attended my first Chery launch. It was a low-key event hosted by the then distributors that consisted of a few local dealers, and the highlight of the trip was the unlimited free alcohol.
The car was cheap and nasty, my hangover was epic and lasted almost longer than the brand did in South Africa before being abandoned by their distributors. Needless to say, I never saw a Chery again, and I was more than okay with this.
Fast forward to present day and things have changed somewhat massively for the better. Chery now has the full backing and financial might of their Chinese parent company, and they are serious about introducing some really good cars locally.
The Chery Tiggo family
We have already been introduced to the Tiggo 8 Pro and Tiggo 4 Pro, and now we have the SUV that falls in the middle of the two, the Tiggo 7 Pro.
First up, the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro is easy on the eyes, and offers the likes of 18-inch wheels, roof mounted spoiler, dual exhaust surrounds, heated and electrically foldable mirrors with integrated LED indicators. Staying with the LED theme, all the lights are LEDs and switch on automatically, and you also get intelligent wide-angle fog lights and light-bar-type LED daytime running lights.
The interior is just as impressive as the exterior. You have synthetic leather for the seats and steering wheel, electrically adjustable seats, push button start, wireless cellphone, multiple colour ambient lighting, a seven-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch LCD in the centre console that forms the hub of the Tiggo’s vehicle information and entertainment controls.
A third screen is flush-mounted below the infotainment system, and this screen is there to access the climate control system that can independently cool or heat two different zones. It is said to be fitted with surgical-level N95 air filtering, while also powering the cooling system of the cooled central glove box.
I am not sure what surgical-level N95 air filtering is, I can only assume it is pretty good. But I did appreciate that there were good old-fashioned knobs to switch things on and off.
The blindfold test
At this stage, I would go so far as to say that if you covered the badges or were not told what you were going to drive, I can assure you that you would not know that you were about to drive a Chinese car. High praise, but hit the start button and head off on a drive, which in our case was straight up and down the N1 to the Mongena Private Game Lodge, and a horrible little flaw rears its head.
The Chery Tiggo 7 Pro comes in two versions, the R409,900 Distinctive and the R444,900 Executive. Both run a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol, four-cylinder engine that produces 108kW of power and 210Nm of torque, which provides for an adequate amount of urge. Even the CVT transmission with nine pre-programmed “gears” is smooth enough and well suited to the soft SUV nature of the car.
Chery Tiggo 7 Pro is thirsty
But, and I think this is a big but, in today’s economic climate and in an era when more and more cars barely sip fuel, the fuel consumption of the Tiggo 7 is not even mentioned in the press pack, and for good reason too. This car battled to return 10 litres per 100km while been driven conservatively on the open road.
Use the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro around town or drive with a heavy foot and this number will climb even more. This is not good. The car offers an Eco mode and a Sport mode. I couldn’t see any option of a Normal mode, but this didn’t concern me too much as toggling between the two hardly made any difference.
Where the Tiggo 7 comes back again is safety, by offering between four and six airbags, and the likes of Isofix child-seat anchors, ABS disc brakes all round with electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assistance, hill-start assistance, hill-descent control, rear traffic alert and blind spot detection.
The Executive model gets even more spec with lane departure warning and front collision warning among others.
The Chery Tiggo 7 Pro is sold with a five-year/150 000 km warranty, a five-year/60 000 km service plan and the carmaker’s ground-breaking 10-year/one-million km engine warranty.
For more information on the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro, click here.