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Having departed the Australian market in 2015, the giant, state-owned Chinese vehicle manufacturer Chery is weeks away from a full-blooded comeback, with the first shipment of 1000 Omoda5 SUVs on the water and scheduled to arrive here by mid-February.

Originally set to launch in late 2022, Chery marketing manager for Australia, Zoe Zhang told CarsGuide the brand is on track to re-enter the local new-car market in the first quarter of this year.

A previous arrangement with independent distributor Ateco Automotive saw three Chery models, the J1 light hatch, J3 small hatch and J11 compact SUV in Aussie showrooms from 2011 to 2015.

But hiccups including poor performance in ANCAP safety assessments and the presence of asbestos in some vehicle components made for a rocky ride before the decision to pull the pin was made.

A sign of how far the brand has come in the intervening eight years is the sleek coupe-style Omoda5’s strong specification.

According to Ms Zhang, the small (C-HR/Seltos-sized) five-seater will be offered initially with a 115kW/230Nm 1.5-litre turbo-petrol, four-cylinder engine driving the front wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Suspension is strut front/torsion bar rear, standard rims are 17-inch alloys, and braking is by discs all around (ventilated front).

The Omoda5 1.5L boasts a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating and is offered across four grades in the domestic Chinese market, with higher-spec variants including dual 10.25 screens covering multimedia and instrumentation.

The Omoda5 1.5L boasts a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating.
The Omoda5 1.5L boasts a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating.

That will be followed later in the year by a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol version producing 145kW/290kW, matched with a seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission, also featuring multi-link independent rear suspension and 18-inch rims.

Although local pricing and specifications are yet to be confirmed, domestic pricing for the 1.5-litre ranges from 92,900 to 107,900 Yuan. At the time of writing, on a direct currency conversion, that equates to around $16,000-$23,000.

The 1.6L car steps up to 108,900 to 126,900 Yuan across three grades, equating to roughly $23,000-$27,000.

Ms Zhang also confirmed the Chery network structure is a traditional OEM wholesale to retailer model, rather than the online-focused, fixed-price, agency arrangement recently adopted by Honda and Mercedes-Benz.

According to Ms Zhang “more than 30” Australian dealers have been appointed nationally, with key representatives having experienced the Omoda5, giving an enthusiastic thumbs up to it and other key Chery models.

The Tiggo 7 Pro is set to arrive in the second half of 2023.
The Tiggo 7 Pro is set to arrive in the second half of 2023.

“Along with our dealers we’ve seen the success of MG and others in the Australian market, and we are confident of strong (sales) performance and excellent service,” she said.

Sitting a little further back in the new product pipeline is the Tiggo 7 Pro. Set to arrive in the second half of the year, it’s a mid-size premium SUV boasting 1.5 and 1.6L FWD powertrains shared with the Omoda5.

Riding on Chery’s SUV-specific T1X platform, the five-seater features digital ‘Smart Cockpit’ instrumentation, a 24.6-inch ‘Curved Immersive’ media screen (with Cloud connected entertainment), 64-colour ambient lighting, and Sony high-end audio. 

And from there, as Zoe Zhang says, “We have many products, and all will be considered for the Australian market.

“Chery has five research and development centres around the world with personnel bringing experience from Jaguar Land Rover, General Motors, Ford, Hyundai, and others. So there’s much more to come,” she said.

James Cleary
Deputy Editor
As a small boy James often sat on a lounge with three shoes in front of him, a ruler between the cushions, and a circular drinks tray in his hands. He would then play ‘drivings’, happily heading to destinations unknown for hours on end. He’s since owned many cars, raced a few, and driven (literally) thousands of them at all points of the globe. He’s steered around and across Australia multiple times, spent time as an advanced driving instructor, and had the opportunity to experience rare and valuable classics here and overseas. His time in motoring journalism has included stints at national and international titles including Motor, Wheels and TopGear, and when asked to nominate a career highlight, James says interviewing industry legend Gordon Murray, in the paddock at the 1989 Australian Formula One Grand Prix was amazing, especially as Murray waived away a hovering Ayrton Senna to complete the conversation. As Deputy Editor, James manages everything from sub-editing to back-end content, while creating written and video product reviews, as well as the weekly 'Tools in the Shed' podcast.'
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