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The parent company of Volvo and Polestar, Geely, has revealed what looks like a shrunken version of a Suzuki Jimny to cash in on a currently adventure-mad Chinese new-car market.
The city-sized SUV which launches under Geely’s Geometry electric-only sub-brand comes complete with a retro-styled grille in the Jimny or Bronco style, with a square body, tough bumpers clad in black plastics, and even roof racks with a roof-ladder trim piece.
The tiny three-door SUV is dubbed the Geometry Panda Rider (or, the much cooler Panda Knight, depending on which translation engine you believe) with what the brand calls a “contrasted cuteness” styling language. It is truly tiny, measuring in at 3135mm long, 1565mm wide and 1655mm tall, even smaller than the Kia Picanto, which is currently Australia’s smallest new vehicle.
The Panda Knight is powered by a 30kW/110Nm electric motor, with a 17kWh battery pack good for a driving range of 200km between charges, in a similar spec to something like the Mitsubishi eK X city car which the Japanese brand is currently considering for an Australian launch. It has both a slow AC charging connector at a max speed of 3.3kW for a charge in around 4.5 hours, and a fast DC connector which can bring charging time down to just 30 minutes.
Inside, expect the usual high-tech treatment which most Chinese cars have, consisting of a large 8.0-inch central multimedia touchscreen and a 9.2-inch digital instrument cluster.
Contrasting trim pieces appear on the inside, with some rugged storage cutaways, a two-spoke steering wheel, a manual handbrake and single-zone climate controls.
The two-tone theme continues to the synthetic leather seat trim, which has a topographic-map themed trim in a similar vein to the kinds of motifs found on Jeep trim pieces. Prices start in China from a somewhat unbelievable ¥39,900 which translates to roughly A$8,500.
Currently there’s an adventure vehicle craze in China, with buyers streaming to off-road focused models, and an explosion of Jimny-styled small and microcars, as demonstrated by not only the success of small cars like this Panda Knight, but also a proliferation of off-road models by GWM and its Tank sub-brand.
While Geely is being quiet on whether it will expand to Australia imminently, it is also doing well in a tough new car environment in China, up 28 per cent year-on-year. It plans to launch six new models in the remaining second half of 2023, across its Geely, Lynk & Co, and Geometry brands.