The SAGMJ Motoring Guild Bursar, Sean Parker, went to test out GWM’s new C10. He shares his views on the ever-growing Chinese automaker’s newest product offering.
GWM’s new C10
Chinese carmaker Great Wall Motors (GWM) had made a late entry into one of the fiercest segments in the small car market. Brought into the country to stand next to the Floris, the C10 is aimed at the city dweller who wants a good looking, affordable, spacious hatch.
The question is, has GWM, who entered the local scene in 2007, and have amassed a remarkable 71 dealerships countrywide since then, produced a vehicle that can challenge the status quo? In other words, have GWM produced a Chad le Clos, to beat the US swimming supremo’s Michael Phelp and Ryan Lochte?
IS IT GOOD LOOKING?
It certainly looks unique from the front, with a large v-shaped chrome grille that I particularly liked, while the rear and the wheel design was definitely a copy and paste exercise from the previous generation Toyota Yaris. My test car was smeared in Pearl Black, and definitely gave the C10 a classy look. Front and rear fog lights add to the cars aspirational positioning, and chiselled headlights add a little bit of a mean streak, like someone wanting to use chopsticks to pop your eyes out.
WHATS THE ENGINE LIKE?
The C10 will be available at launch only in 1, 5 petrol form, it has variable valve timing and produces a commendable 77 kW at a peaky 6 000 r/min while maximum is pegged at 138 Nm. While those figures may seem sprightly, they have indifferent results when I test drove it on a combination of highway and town driving. It certainly feels more at home on the highway, it felt pretty solid cruising along in fifth (top) gear. However, it was the city section of the test route that I felt the engine struggled to provide the necessary strokes to keep it afloat. It’s a revvy engine, and needs to have its neck wrung to extract a decent start when other motorists are barging around you. The C10 weighs in at just over 1500 kg; it certainly is a heavy car and I have a feeling the weight penalty has a lot to do with the lacklustre performance.
DOES IT HANDLE WELL?
The ride and the handling is pretty well sorted, it felt smooth on the highway, and coped admirably with the ruts and bumps on the CBD’s streets. While vigorous cornering did illustrate the C10’s tendency to wash out, it was never unnerving in delivering a comfortable, yet dreary drive. I did have one gripe, and that was the steering, which felt extremely firm and didn’t convey any sort of feedback as to where the front wheels were. The brakes were a tad vague, asking a little with insufficient travel in the pedal to give the impression that they were working.
The car however, does feel very solid and is testament to the quality that a slew of new Chinese cars have undertaken. The doors don’t close with that solid “thunk” and the seats feel a little bit too light for my liking. I also could not find an ideal driving position for my large frame, with the adjustable steering wheel not able to lift up high enough. The facia is a combination of mostly dark plastic, that doesn’t feel tacky, but deserves to be in cheaper car. GWM have littered the gear knob, lower centre console and the inner layer of the steering wheel in a silver hue that mercifully lights up the cabin. Safety-wise the C10 ticks all the proverbial boxes you would want in a city runabout, with dual front airbags, ABS, EBD, the customary seat-belt warning system and child lock for the rear doors.
WHAT’S THE INSIDE LIKE?
It definitely is well specced, with niceties such as a multi-function steering wheel, a USB and AUX connection, air-conditioning and electric windows which the urban driver will want as a prerequisite. I did have a problem with the narrow digital clock that finds its home just above the centre air vents; the display is just far too narrow for a quick customary glance. My other bone to pick, is with the location of the handbrake, which is too close to the passenger seat , resulting in either a fire caused by the friction that is caused between ones hand and seat. Other than that, everything is well-laid out, clear and works well; a decent sound system is standard. Parking sensors and a nifty boot, which has two removable binnacles that free up an extra 30 litres of space, were two features that were impressed upon the media prior to us going on the test drive. Buyers can feel at ease with a three year/ 100 000 km warranty and 24 hour roadside assistance.
SHOULD YOU BUY ONE?
So, has GWM managed to produce a surprise package that takes the fight to the traditional big sellers? Well, according to Tony Pinfold, CEO of GWM SA, the marque is aiming to sell 200 units a month. There are plans for a diesel and an automatic in the future, but nothing has been confirmed. GWM are definitely banking on this product, because it is right in the firing line of VW’s Polo Vivo, Ford’s Figo, while Renaults Sandero also makes a good case for itself in the value for money stakes.
My initial impression is that the C10 still has some rough edges that need to be smoothed out, but it does deserve praise for its solid feel. I just feel it’s marginally too expensive at R134 900, and will suffer because of better offering in the market.