The Chinese idiomatic phrase “Wo Hu Cang Long” translates to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and refers to the undercurrents of emotion, passion, and secret desires that lie beneath the surface of polite society and civil behavior. The phrase comes from one of the works of the ancient Chinese poet Yu Xin that says, “behind the rock in the dark probably hides a tiger, and the coiling giant root resembles a crouching dragon.”
We were reminded of this Chinese idiomatic phrase, which was also the title of an award-winning movie in 2000, while we were driving a Chery subcompact crossover, especially since the company refers to the vehicle’s façade as the “tiger crouching front-end”. While we cannot immediately see where the tiger is crouching in the Tiggo 5X’s design, we suspect that the idiomatic phrase refers to the potential of the automotive brand.
UAAGI Takes a Bold Gamble
Chery is a big automotive brand in China especially in its home province of Wu Hu, where most of the vehicles on the roads came from the car maker. Like the tiger hiding in the dark behind the rock in Yu Xin’s poem, Chery is in the dark in the Philippine automotive market because of the missteps taken by the previous local distributors, which painted a negative picture of Chinese cars in the country.
But United Asia Automotive Group, Inc. (UAAGI) saw through the negative press and saw the potential of Chery like “the coiling giant root that resembles a hidden dragon”. The UAAGI management team, headed by Rommel Sytin, is no stranger to marketing Chinese vehicles. They have successfully marketed FOTON vehicles in the country and even brought it to the Top Ten vehicles brands in the Philippine automotive market. UAAGI is confident that they can do the same with Chery.
Initial Focus on Smart Crossovers and SUVs
UAAGI’s confidence is Chery is not unfounded. Chery Auto Philippines initially fielded four vehicles – the Tiggo 2, Tiggo 5X, Tiggo 7, and Tiggo 8 to get back into the local market. For our first taste of Chery, we were lent a 2020 Chery Tiggo 5X Lux, which is the up-market luxury variant. Our test drive unit came in an elegant finish of Aspen White Pearl with two-tone 17-inch 5 split-spoke alloy wheels shod in 215/55R17 Chao Yang tires. Suddenly, we’re in the mood for some Yang Chow fried rice…
The first thing that got our attention was the fact that we can remotely start the car and turn on the air-conditioner using its Smart Keyless remote fob. Even when we parked the Tiggo 5X under the hot sun, we’d just happily press a button on the remote fob, wait a few minutes, and then get into the vehicle’s cooled interior. While the leather seats are still warm to the touch, they’re not as searing. That convenience and comfort feature alone is worth the price of admission.
Crouching Like a Tiger
The Tiggo 5X’s overall exterior design does not stand out against other crossover vehicles and mini-SUVs in a parking lot. Even with the pearl paint, it simply looks like any other 5-door crossover. Perhaps, like a tiger crouching in the dark before it pounces on its prey, this Chery was designed to blend with crowd and not attract attention to its self. It does not say, “Hey! Look at me!” but it does its job of transporting five occupants from Point A to Point B quietly and comfortably.
Its 114-horsepower 1.5-liter inline 4-cylinder variable valve timing engine may have won a Euro 5 compliance certificate, but coupled to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), it is not designed to win drag races. Its 141 Newton-meters of torque is just adequate to move the slightly portly 1,321-kilogram Tiggo 5X plus its occupants but at the expense of fuel economy. We averaged around 8.3 km/liter in combined city and highway driving, with some traffic in between (especially the long queues at the toll gates) and some occasional stabs at 160km/h top speed during a Sunday fun run that prompted some people in our convoy to say, “Ang bilis pala ng Chery. (That Chery is surprisingly fast).”
Around Town Runabout
Chery equipped the Tiggo 5X with a unibody frame, front McPherson strut suspension, rear torsion beam, and enough noise vibration and harshness (NVH) deadeners to achieve a compliant and fair ride. The suspension tends to be a little choppy over uneven roads but handles well around corners. There’s only a little road and engine noise during sedate drives around town but, when you mash the throttle, the engine screams as it revs to match the machinations of the CVT. We can say that the Tiggo 5X is good enough as a highway flyer but it is more enjoyable as an around town runabout.
Inside, the black leather interior presents an aura of luxury and coziness. Black plastic accent pieces provide some breaks in the interior design which tends to provide a feeling of spaciousness. The cockpit feels ergonomic, with all the controls within easy reach, while the backseat may be confining for those with very long legs. The cargo space behind the rear seat is adequate and can be expanded by folding the 60/40 rear seats. It may be standard fare for crossover vehicles made by seasoned brands but this is a big improvement over Chery automobiles of the past.
Chock Full of High Tech
Technology is where the Tiggo 5X stands out from the rest. Aside from the aforementioned remote engine start, this Chery comes with a 9-inch true-color capacitive touch screen with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, Mirror Link function, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and doubles as the monitor for the rear camera and navigation. The 7-inch LCD instrument display shows not only the speed, engine revs, fuel and coolant temperature levels but also shows the distance to empty (D.T.E.), average fuel economy (A.F.E.), instant fuel consumption (I.F.C.) and the trip meter.
Driver safety features include cruise control, intelligent tire pressure monitoring system, Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) with auto brake hold, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Brake Override System (BOS), Brake Assist System (BAS), Hill Decent Control (HDC), Hill Hold Control (HHC), Traction Control System (TCS), and Emergency Signal System (ESS). Other safety features include dual front airbags and ISOFIX anchors.
And now, for the cherry on the top: A standard 2020 Chery Tiggo 5X is priced at P860,000 while a luxury version, like the sunroof-equipped Tiggo 5X Lux that we tested, will set you back P950,000. The price becomes more attractive when you consider that each Chery automobile comes with a 5-year, 100,000-kilometer warranty and a 10-year 1,000,000 km warranty for the powertrain. It’s still a lot of money for a China-made vehicle but then again, it’s a crouching tiger that’s waiting to pounce. And please don’t forget, there’s a hidden dragon (UAAGI and actor Coco Martin’s endorsement) supporting this high tech pussy cat. “Wo Hu Cang Long”, indeed.
Classification: 5-door subcompact crossover vehicle
Engine type: Liquid-cooled inline-4 DOHC 16V
Capacity: 1500 cc
Maximum power: 114 hp @ 6150 rpm
Maximum torque: 141 Nm @ 3800 rpm
Length: 4358 mm
Width: 1830 mm
Height: 1670 mm
Wheelbase: 2630 mm
Ground clearance: 190 mm
Turning radius: 10.8 m
Fuel tank capacity: 51 liters
Maximum load space volume behind 1st row – 1670 liters
Maximum load space volume behind 2nd row – 435 liters
Chery Auto Philippines
United Asia Automotive Group, Inc. (UAAGI)
728 A. Bonifacio Avenue, Balintawak, Quezon City
Tel. Nos.: (+632) 8442 4076 to 78