Chinese manufacturer Chery had been hamstrung in Australia by not having stability control on its cars. The safety system is mandatory in Victoria and looks likes being mandatory elsewhere soon. Chery has a three car range here — the J1, J3 and J11.

Price and equipment

The price for the auto is $15,990 drive away, $13,990 for the manual. That's only part of the story because the amount of kit you get for this money is astonishing. 

It’s fitted out with leather, auto wipers and headlights, climate control aircon, trip computer, full size spare, 16-inch alloys, reverse sensors, remote central locking, power windows, multiple steering wheel controls, height adjustable headlights, cruise control, 60/40 rear seats are all included.

Explore the 2013 Chery J3 Range

Engine and mechanical

They have also uprated the engine from about 85kW to 93kw/160Nm. It's a twin cam 1.6-litre with variable valve timing. The J3 five door hatch small car now has stability control as standard along with six air bags and is now available with a CVT seven step auto transmission from respected manufacturer Jatco. A manual Sport mode is provided on the stick selector. 

Safety

It hasn't been crash tested but based on the standard safety kit, could be in line for at least a four star crash rating.

Driving

We took the new auto J3 for a spin last week and found it quite good for everyday driving. It's no sporty hatch but as a general use vehicle, the good looking hatch is easy to drive and park, cheap to buy and with this much standard kit, is hard to beat on price alone.

They're targeting a bunch of similarly priced tiddler-size cars with the J3 — the likes of Suzuki Alto, Mitsubishi Mirage and the Hyundai i20. The J3 outpoints them all on size let alone features and also looks better into the bargain with familiar European lines a bit like an earlier Ford Focus.

In practical terms, it has a big (expandable) boot and plenty of room for five inside. The car has absolutely no profile on the road as nobody knows what it is. That may change when buyers realise the value the J3 has on offer. It's a small step with ESP and six bags but proves the Chinese are listening and want to make a bigger impression on the local front.