Good value in its segment: The update to the exterior of the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max is subtle
Affordable luxury has become a buzzword in the vehicle sector as Chinese car-makers rise to the challenge of offering buyers unrivalled value for money.
That said, consumers expect nothing less than a complete package of features and benefits as standard. From safety and performance to comfort and style, Chinese products often deliver on every facet without breaking the bank.
A fitting example is the flagship Tiggo 8 Pro Max from Chery, which ushered in sporty Chinese flair after the launch of the regular Tiggo 8 Pro in February last year.
It’s been a success story for the brand since its relaunch into the local market in 2021, with about 20 000 Chery models finding homes across the country.
Speaking of the Tiggo 8 Pro Max, it was introduced before the end of last year as the flagship model in the Tiggo series consisting of the Tiggo 4 Pro, Tiggo 7 Pro and Tiggo 8 Pro.
Roughly six months later, Chery is giving its Tiggo 8 Pro Max SUV a subtle makeover both inside and out. The last time I got acquainted with the facelifted SUV was in Wuhu, China, in April.
The Tiggo 8 Pro Max has always been a stunning vehicle that combines sporty with a range of standard features that one would pay a premium for in vehicles from marques of European origin.
Subtlety is the name of the game here, and unless you’re a diehard fan of the product, it’d take a few glances to spot the differences.
Upfront, a new grille incorporates an illuminated Chery logo that gives the SUV a modern touch. The LED Matrix headlights have been slightly tweaked and now feature more satiny daytime running light clusters.
It’s when you move to the rear of the car that the changes become more apparent, thanks to completely redesigned light clusters that are linked by an LED light bar. This stylistic element has also become a trend among Chinese manufacturers.
In typical Max style, the SUV comes with four exhaust tips that add a sportier touch.
Inside, the seven-seater boasts significant changes, and I commend Chery for addressing the concerns I had when I sampled the Tiggo 8 Pro last year.
For starters, the secondary screen for climate-control adjustments has been removed and replaced by a set of haptic touch-sensitive buttons that are easier to control.
As the brand pushes towards digitisation, there are two 12.3-inch screens, one is for the instrument cluster, and the other serves as an infotainment system with functions including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The interior is not short on style and Chery has gone to extra lengths to make the new model even more premium, courtesy of soft-touch leather, wood-grain patterns as well as silver finishing on various points of the interior.
Also new inside is the centre console, which is home to a new gear selector, cup holders and a 50 Watt wireless charging pad.
Chery has packed the Tiggo 8 Pro Max to the brim with features such as a Sony sound system, ambient lighting, offline navigation, four USB ports, a panoramic sunroof, voice control and a “boss button” which allows rear occupants to control the front passenger seat, all as standard.
Mechanics stay the same
Mechanically, the Tiggo 8 Pro Max s is unaltered. It still houses the same 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 187kW and 390Nm of torque sent to the front wheels via a 7-speed DCT transmission.
During our launch drive, we thoroughly tested the SUV’s suspension on highways and scenic back routes in KwaZulu-Natal. The findings were that the suspension leans towards the firmer side, lacking sufficient damping for road imperfections. A softer setup would be more fitting for a family-oriented vehicle.
Power delivery is impressive with lively off-the-mark and overtaking acceleration, with minimal noise intruding the cabin space.
On the safety side, the new Tiggo 8 Pro Max comes standard with a revised ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) that includes adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, an updated all-view monitor camera and lane keeping assistance as well as a DVR driver view recorder for the first time.
The updated ADAS also positions the Tiggo 8 Pro Max in the spheres of Level 2 autonomy.
I found the active safety systems, such as lane-keep assist and front-collision assist, intrusive at times. While they are effective — overly so at times — there’s definitely some room for refinement.
Unfortunately, the Tiggo 8 Pro Max remains a thirsty car, even when driven with efficiency in mind. At the launch, I saw fuel consumption figures hover around 10.9 litre/100km, considerably higher than the 7.6 litre/100km claimed by Chery.
A big step up
Priced at R669 900, the new Tiggo 8 Pro Max may boast subtle changes when compared with the outgoing model but as far as first impressions go, it’s a big step up and it’ll find favour with local seven-seater mid-size SUV buyers.
At its price, it’s easy to forgive its flaws, and if the value offered by Chinese cars appeals to your inner accountant, it’s worth looking at. It competes well with rivals such as the VW Tiguan AllSpace, Proton X70 and Subaru Forester.
The price includes a five-year/ 60 000km service plan, a five-year/150 000km comprehensive mechanical warranty and a seven-year/90 000km service plan.
Chery also offers a 10-year/1 0 000km engine warranty for the first owner.
As a side note, the first 100 buyers of the Tiggo 8 Pro Max will gain membership to The Max Club. This offers a host of lifestyle benefits, a five-year care package plus the opportunity to win a trip to China.