A charming surprise from the Chery Tiggo 4 Pro

It is no secret that the compact cross-over segment is a fast-growing segment within South Africa. As such it came as no surprise that fast-growing Chinese brand, Chery, decided to use this segment as its relaunch platform in the South African market when it introduced the Tiggo 4 Pro towards the end of last year.

Now, the Chery brand doesn’t have the best rap sheet in the South African market. You might remember this brand for their uninspiring vehicles such as the original Tiggo and the Chery QQ, which were slated for its general lack of quality and refinement as well as reports of poor after sales support due to a very small dealership footprint. However, the Chery vehicles making its way under the “new and improved” brand promise in South Africa is a massive step up.

First impressions

We recently spent some time with all-new and fresh Chery Tiggo 4 Pro and off the bat this was a massive improvement from what I’d expected from the Chinese brand. It is, in fact, a rather good (and affordable) option in the growing cross-over segment. Embracing the SUV-feel, the Tiggo 4 Pro’s design is modern, riding on 16- or 17-inch alloy wheels (depending on the model you choose) it boasts an impressive 180mm ground clearance. It has a bold and aggressive grille with subtle chrome diamond detailing as well as LED daytime running, giving the newcomer a modern and unexpected high-end luxurious feel. The rear features modern touches like LED taillights, a roof spoiler and even a quirky little diffuser.

The Tiggo 4 Pro Elite SE (yes, you guessed it – Special Edition, hence the larger alloys at 18-inch alloys, giving it a tad more oomph) I sampled possesses some premium exterior touches to distinguish it from its more budget counter parts. I particularly liked the head-turning red detailing on the front skid plate as well as the side cladding and red brake callipers. The sporty red is continued in the interior with some contrast stitching as well as “Tiggo” decals in the driver and passenger door wells. When you open the door at night you’re greeted with puddle lamps projecting “Tiggo” logos.

Moving inside, the Tiggo 4 Pro’s cabin is inviting and surprisingly sophisticated. The Elite SE variant boasts leather seats, as well as ample leather accents throughout, seamlessly blending with the chrome elements. Add to this the fair amount of standard tech and other features – including a digital cluster with a 7-inch screen for the diver and an impressive 10-inch infotainment system – and you find yourself wondering how they kept the costs down.

Connectivity is the name of the game and (as with most of the players in this segment) the infotainment is Andriod Auto and AppleCarplay compatible and you get two USB ports in the front and one in the back. Additionally, the infotainment system also has a clever voice-control system which is probably the first one in the history of the South African motoring that had no problem interpreting my Afrikaans accent. The higher end models have dual-zone climate control to help combat the brutal South African climate, while the lower end models have manual aircon and a sunroof  as standard features.

The drive

Now onto the all-important question: how is the Tiggo 4 Pro’s performance and handling? The Elite SE derivative is powered by a 1.5-litre turbo, while the lower spec options have a 1.5-litre naturally aspirated engine. Many of my fellow motor scribes have been singing the 1.5 turbo’s praises and I have to concur: it’s not a bad engine. It is super nippy around town thanks to a power output of 108kW of power and 210 Nm of torque (the naturally aspirated version offers 83kW and 138Nm), mated to a CVT-box. And low and behold – in the Chery’s case, the CVT is one of the positives.

Normally when I test a vehicle, I am immediately annoyed when I see it it’s a CVT as I find the rubber band effect, the struggle of getting off the line and the terrible tendency of over- or under revving quite frustrating. The Tiggo 4Pro’s CVT, however, didn’t have any of those issues and I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I will even go as far to say that it feels like a conventional automatic gearbox. On the flipside, the powertrain was disappointing – or rather, confusing. At times, it felt a bit too eager. I found the acceleration completely out of sync – a bit like an on/off switch where, if moves past a certain speed, the car just catapulted as if something was chasing it. So it was either Driving Miss Daisy at 70km/hour or driving it like you stole it at 120km/hour! The other issue with the powertrain was its inefficiency – I struggled to keep it under 10 litres/100km, whereas other players in this segment easily settles around 7 to 8 litres/100km.

In terms handling the Tiggo 4Pro is fine. Like a lot of other cross-overs it does suffer a bit from body roll and on rough roads the ride can get a bit harsh due to insufficient damping, but I have experienced worse in some better known brands. While the Tiggo 4 Pro does feel a tad nervous and jittery on the open road at higher speeds, we never felt unsafe, thanks to standard safety feature across the range. These include, amongst others, ABS with EBD, electronic stability control, traction control, roll stability control as well as hill descent control and hill assist.

In closing

The Chery Tiggo 4 Pro finds itself in a highly competitive segment flooded with a lot great and not-so-great options. So, where does this new Chinese player fit into this segment? First off, looks sell and the Tiggo 4 Pro is quite the sexy little thing! Add to this the premium finishes and extras and it feels much more high-end than most of the competitors which underlines it’s value-for-money appeal. However, don’t expect anything special performance wise. The punchy 1.5-litre turbo pairs well with the CVT gear box and, as mentioned, it feels a lot more like a traditional automatic. However, the accelerator does feel a bit sensitive and inconsistent, and the fuel consumption is really shocking.

To conclude, the Tiggo Pro 4 certainly elevates the Chery brand to give it a whole lot more credibility in our market and this newcomer should definitely be on your shopping list if you’re looking for a cute, yet capable cross-over. In the past, Chery’s main problem was sub-par products with nearly zero after sales support – however, today they have 50 dealerships nation-wide and offers a comprehensive warranty and service support. Things are looking up for this new player on the block and I think the Tiggo Pro 4 was the perfect start to their resurgence back into the South African market.

Model line-up & pricing:

  • SMT Urban: R274 900
  • CVT Comfort: R304 900
  • 6MT Elite: R324 900
  • CVT Elite: R354 900
  • CVT Elite SE: R364 900

* Every Tiggo 4 Pro derivative comes with a 5-year/60 000km service plan, as well as a 5-year/150 000km warranty and a 1-million-kilometre/10-year engine warranty. However, it is important to note that the latter does expire once the vehicle is sold second-hand.

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