After an eight-year hiatus from the Australian market, Chinese-brand Chery is back. What’s its cut-price Omoda 5 SUV like to drive?
2023 Chery Omoda 5
Chinese state-owned car brand Chery is looking to make a comeback in Australia.
After an eight-year hiatus from selling cars locally – originally departing due to asbestos and safety concerns – it’s back with all-new product and a grand plan to match.
The first car to arrive back in Australia is the 2023 Chery Omoda 5. It’s a small SUV that’s expected to wear a five-star ANCAP safety rating and feature a price of less than $40,000 drive-away.
The brand also plans to offer a seven-year warranty and target industry leader Toyota in terms of after-sales cost – making its initially small SUV offering appear quite compelling on paper by the dollars.
But is the car any good? The brand invited us to drive the car on a short couple-day loan, which we jumped at.
Read on to see what we discovered.
How much does the Chery Omoda 5 cost in Australia?
The Chery Omoda 5 will come in four trim levels in Australia: Omoda 5 BX, Omoda 5 EX, Omoda 5 EX+ and Omoda 5 EX+ AWD.
Launching first (and now ) are the Omoda 5 BX and Omoda 5 EX models, with those other two EX+ higher-spec models arriving later this year. Both entry-level cars feature the same 115kW/230Nm 1.5-litre turbocharged engine, CVT auto and front-wheel-drive layout, whereas EX+ and EX+ AWD high-spec models have a 1.6-litre turbo and front- or all-wheel drive respectively.
The entry-level 2023 Chery Omoda 5 BX is priced from $31,990 to $32,690 drive-away depending on which state you live in, and comes decently equipped for money. Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, two 10.25-inch interior screens for the gauge cluster and infotainment system, keyless entry, and a decent array of active driver assist systems.
MORE: 2023 Chery Omoda 5 price and specs
Next up is our test car – the 2023 Chery Omoda 5 EX. It offers more gear for a minimal cost increase, or around $3300 extra with prices starting from $35,190 to $35,890 drive-away. For spending more you receive a small opening sunroof, electric tailgate, 360-degree parking camera, heated front seats and steering wheel, and LED exterior welcome lighting.
Pricing for the 2023 Chery Omoda 5 EX+ and EX+ AWD models has not been revealed yet, but we expect the range to top out somewhere around the $40,000 mark.
|Key details||2023 Chery Omoda 5 EX|
|Price||From $35,190 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Saturn Silver with black roof|
|Options||Two-tone paint with red accents – $500|
|Price as tested||$35,990 drive-away (NSW)|
|Drive-away price||$35,190 (ACT)
$35,490 (NSW, QLD and SA)
|Rivals||Haval Jolion | MG ZST | Hyundai Kona|
How much space does the Chery Omoda 5 have inside?
For a small SUV, the Chery Omoda 5 offers a fair amount of space overall.
Starting with the first row, the cabin feels well built and nicely executed for what is an affordable and upcoming brand. The pair of 10.25-inch infotainment screens mirror those found on higher-spec mainstream Japanese or Korean cars, and its overall clean lines and Tesla-inspired wireless charger speak a contemporary design language.
There are nice and diverse materials used through the cabin, too, with bronze highlights on its doors and a metallic-looking plastic centre console uplifting quality at first glance. When you jump behind the wheel, it’s hard not to be impressed with the fit-out of the cabin, especially considering it actually appears well built alongside stylish for under $40K drive-away.
The faux-leather trim feels convincing enough and the seats decently comfortable, but the front pews lack adjustable lumbar support. In a similar way, the more time you spend with it, the more you notice a handful of other ergonomic issues.
The first is making the gearshift unlock button double as the manual mode selector too, meaning grabbing reverse on the fly can result in you picking a forward gear by accident instead. The simple fix is to have two buttons on the shifter.
Another is a lack of proper buttons for its climate-control system, as is an unnecessarily bulky driver assist camera system that sits on the steering column. Other brands have figured out how to make this same system far more compact and less intrusive.
Lastly are a few left-hand -drive hang-ups, like temperature adjustment being on the farthest side of the dashboard, and USB ports being difficult to access due to also being on the wrong side of the cabin.
Over in the second row, space is okay for a small SUV. As a six-foot tall adult, I was able to fit behind my own driving position space, but my feet were a little squashed and unable to fit under the seat in front.
The seat bench itself is flat and not contoured either, meaning it doesn’t support your thighs as much as it should. Amenity in the back is as expected, with rear air vents, a single USB port and a pair of cupholders too.
Boot space is around 292–360L, with Chery yet to confirm a final official figure, or on the smaller side of the segment using language we all understand. The space is fairly well proportioned and good enough for a small family, and thankfully there’s a space-saver spare wheel under the boot floor.
|2023 Chery Omoda 5 EX|
|Boot volume||292–360L seats up|
Does the Chery Omoda 5 have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?
The 2023 Chery Omoda 5 features two 10.25-inch screens – one acting as the driver’s gauge cluster, and the other acting as a shared infotainment system.
The software graphics are a little basic and the language phrasing somewhat a bane due to poor translation efforts, but overall the infotainment was well behaved and didn’t crash or glitch during the loan.
However, it’s worth noting that the hardware package doesn’t have enough grunt to create perfectly smooth transitions with Apple CarPlay. Sometimes, quick tabs between Google Maps and Spotify were laggier and a little blocky with the graphics, but overall it doesn’t affect operation or the functionality of the system.
Another interesting addition to the range is a Sony-branded stereo. The last Sony stereo I saw in a car was in a Ford Performance product that I owned, and according to my memory it wasn’t too crash-hot in terms of audio quality.
Not much has changed since then, as the branded stereo in the Chery Omoda 5 is a bit of a let-down. It lacks clarity and at times sounds muddy, but also struggles with percussion and other fast-paced ‘loud’ music.
Although Sony is a brand synonymous with quality audio, don’t be fooled by the branding.
Is the Chery Omoda 5 a safe car?
The 2023 Cherry Omoda 5 range is expected to launch in Australia with the highest five-star ANCAP safety rating.
As usual, we will wait until the official ANCAP rating is revealed alongside a technical data sheet outlining the results before we give more accurate scoring.
The closely related Euro NCAP safety body awarded the Omoda 5 a five-star result when it was tested in 2022. Adult occupant protection was rated at 87 per cent, child occupant protection at 87 per cent, vulnerable road user (pedestrian) protection returned a 68 per cent rating, and safety assist systems got an 88 per cent rating.
|2023 Chery Omoda 5|
What safety technology does the Chery Omoda 5 have?
The 2023 Chery Omoda 5 features lots of safety technology, including forward and backward auto emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning, blind-spot assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, and a camera-based driver monitoring system.
Although loaded with tech, some systems could use further tweaking. The lane-keeping assistance can be aggressive with its interventions, and we discuss exactly how in the driving section of this story below.
Another system that could use further improvement is the driver monitoring system. It will warn you for being distracted for doing simple things like using the infotainment, and then leave an warning message on the gauge cluster that needs cleaning.
Even glancing away for the slightest of moments (maybe innocently) will trigger it sometimes, so it merely needs to be toned down.
How much does the Chery Omoda 5 cost to maintain?
The brand has not released servicing pricing yet, but claims to be benchmarking industry leader Toyota for servicing pricing. Intervals are expected to be 10,000km or one year, whichever comes first.
That means we’re expecting its servicing costs to be around $250–$350 per visit – or excellent value for money.
Due to the vehicle being new, we were unable to get an insurance quote for it. We will update this section once the 2023 Chery Omoda 5 has been added to the national database that insurance companies use to generate a quote.
Lastly, the brand also plans to offer a seven-year and unlimited-kilometre warranty.
|At a glance||2023 Chery Omoda 5 EX|
|Warranty||Seven years, unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 10,000km|
|Servicing costs||$250–$300 per service (estimated)|
Is the Chery Omoda 5 fuel-efficient?
Over the duration of a few days, we saw a final fuel consumption figure of 8.9L/100km.
The official claimed figure by Chery is 6.9L/100km, meaning at two litres over the claim, it’s relatively thirsty for a small SUV. However, we usually test cars over a longer seven-day period to truly assess fuel use, so consider this anecdotal until we get a car to test on a longer loan.
Fuel Consumption – brought to you by bp
|Fuel Usage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||6.9L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||8.9L/100km|
|Fuel type||91-octane unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||50L|
What is the Chery Omoda 5 like to drive?
We started our test drive around North Sydney’s business district and ended in Kangaroo Valley – a picturesque and rural town about two hours from Sydney. The weather on the day was initially dry around town, but it did begin to rain halfway into our trip and did so until the end.
Starting with around town, the Chery Omoda 5 impresses for the money in terms of ride comfort.
At times and over bumps and potholes it can feel overly firm and stiff, but it’s the lesser of two evils when compared to a car that’s too soft and spongy. Ninety-five per cent of the time it’s comfortable, safe, and feels akin to a car from a more established player at lower speeds.
The steering is okay around town, but can sometimes feel weirdly light off centre. Something else that could use some fixing is the throttle pedal, as low-speed inputs or situations where you lift, pause, then apply the throttle – say at a give-way sign – are met with hesitation.
Considering the Chery Omoda 5 uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) means the programmers simply haven’t spent enough time on the electronic throttle pedal to make it smooth. As a side note, this is not new technology, with electronic throttle control fitted to most new cars for the past two decades.
Another thing noticed were various bings and bongs from its various driver assist systems seemingly without rhyme or reason. The driver monitoring system will pull your leg a bit and tell you off for being distracted when you’re only using the car’s systems in front of you, but that’s simply a nuisance and not a real problem.
The lane-keeping assist is more of an issue, however, and it goes one further than just binging and bonging at you. The interventions it applies when you veer out of your lane can feel aggressive, and you feel the system deliberately jolt through the steering wheel for probably one of two reasons: to either wake you up, or quickly push you back into the middle of the lane.
Whatever the reason, it’s needlessly intrusive, and at speeds of 110km/h quite annoying. Out of town driving in rural areas, the car felt secure and comfortable (there are no lane markings here!).
The standard Giti tyres offer fair traction on the roll and through corners in the wet, but can be caught out if you shock them for a loss of traction. Either way, the car never felt skittish or unhinged, and we enjoyed some great roads with battered surfaces in the wet.
The bumps and road imperfections were handled honestly and securely, meaning the car doesn’t feel ‘budget’ in terms of its inherent suspension components and hardware. At higher speeds, the aforementioned vague off-centre steering feel becomes more obvious, but it’s not too much of a deal-breaker here.
The driver assist systems are overzealous, however, and do need to be toned down slightly.
|Key details||2023 Chery Omoda 5 EX|
|Engine||1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol|
|Power||115kW @ 5500rpm|
|Torque||230Nm @ 1750–4000rpm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Continuously variable transmission|
|Spare tyre type||Space-saver|
Should I buy a Chery Omoda 5?
Considering the price tag, Chery has made a valiant effort to re-enter the Australian market.
The price of the vehicle is low considering its specification, meaning there will be no shortage of punters queuing up for a test drive. Brand familiarity – or a lack thereof in this case – won’t be a barrier either, especially that Chinese cars accounted for more than 10 per cent of new motor vehicle sales in Australia in 2022.
Five years ago, they represented less than one per cent of the market, showing that value for money will find the customers no matter what. The presentation of the car is good, too, so the showroom part of the buying process will no doubt convert to test drives.
Aside from some calibration issues, the inherent car feels solid in our quick one-day test drive. We recommend that you try out some freeway or highway driving on your test drive, and make sure you ask the sales consultant before you set off!
We’re keen to stack the Chery Omoda 5 against a few mainstream players to see how it fares, but first impressions are that it looks to offer fantastic value for money – just as wider economic times begin to get tough too.
The post 2023 Chery Omoda 5 EX launch drive appeared first on Drive.
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