Chinese dragon with fire under its belly

The C20R promises, but does not deliver much fire.

The C20R promises, but does not deliver much fire.

The compact hatchback market just got a new entrant. A little red dragon car from China. The C20R from Great Wall Motors.

And as with all GWM products, build quality is acceptable and by far the best of the Chinese manufacturers.

Subjectively I would say they are where the Koreans were seven or so years ago. That is a compliment and a tribute to the improvement in the quality. Its a stylish sexy looking little fire eater, without too much fire in its belly.

This small hatchback which rides 172cm high, looks like it can go off-road but actually it is strictly for town and highway.

It is more of a crossover like a CrossPolo. It is not in the same class off tar roads as a Sandero Stepway.

Several people asked me what it is while I was testing it. Everybody seemed to like the looks.

Powered by a fairly low tech 77 kW 1.5 litre petrol engine with variable-valve timing which generates 138 Nm, acceleration is somewhat leisurely but cruising at the legal limit is a breeze. When fully laden this car may battle a bit on the Highveld.

Safety equipment includes dual airbags, disc brakes all-round, ABS system supported by electronic brake-force distribution and emergency brake assistance. Isofix child-seat anchorages are provided at the rear and the doors feature child-lock protection.

The interior is well laid out and equipped with air-conditioning, an MP3-compatible audio system with auxiliary and USB inputs, electric windows all-around, rake adjustment on the steering column, park distance sensors and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

The C20R is comprehensively equipped with front and rear fog lamps, reverse park assist, immobilizer and alloy rims as standard.

The boot has a double floor and the rear seat slides as well as folds forward to increase the boot size.

The road-holding and handling is very average. Not bad, but also not brilliant. It promises more than it delivers.

Price as tested is a rather substantial R154 900.

Competition includes the VW Vivo Maxx, Sandero Stepway, Ford EcoSport and at a stretch, the 4×2 Renault Duster.

The C20R comes with a comprehensive 3-years/100 000 km warranty and 3-years/45 000 km service plan.

Ford EcoSport, GWM, motoring, Sandero Stepway, , , VW Vivo Maxx, Wallace du Plessis

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