Can you drive a CHEAP Chinese SUV in Outback Australia? Are they reliable enough?

Matt Brand
April 5, 2024
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Embarking on an expedition into the heart of the Australian outback with the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro, an affordable Chinese SUV, presents a scenario rife with skepticism and curiosity.

The critical question at hand is whether a vehicle, known more for its budget-friendly tag than its ruggedness, can withstand the relentless and often unforgiving Australian terrain.

This journey from Melbourne to Hamilton—spanning over four laborious hours through landscapes that oscillate between extreme heat and impending thunderstorms—was meticulously planned to evaluate the Tiggo 7 Pro's mettle against Australia's challenging conditions.

Initial apprehensions were palpable, given the Tiggo 7 Pro's enticing price point of AUD 45,990 drive away for its ultimate all-wheel-drive variant, loaded with a plethora of features.

Despite its attractive pricing and promising specifications, there lingered doubts about its capability to tackle the diverse and demanding Australian landscape. However, the journey to Hamilton was not merely a test of endurance but an opportunity to dissect the Tiggo 7 Pro's capabilities comprehensively.

The vehicle's safety credentials, underscored by its achievement of a five-star ANCAP safety rating, were the first to be scrutinised.

This rating, particularly challenging to attain given the rigorous current testing protocols, highlighted the SUV's robust safety features, including an emergency safety hammer and a proactive driver monitoring system, albeit a bit too zealous at times.

As the expedition unfolded, the driving experience offered by the Tiggo 7 Pro was enhanced significantly by its suite of autonomous driving features.

Adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist proved invaluable, transforming a potentially tedious journey through rural Victoria into a comfortable and enjoyable ride. At the heart of the Tiggo 7 Pro lies a 1.6L turbocharged engine, a marvel of engineering developed in collaboration with Austrian experts, which balanced efficiency with performance seamlessly, ensuring smooth operation even at highway speeds.

The comfort experienced within the Tiggo 7 Pro was not solely due to its efficient air conditioning system or the high-quality sound system—a component where many vehicles often fall short.

Instead, it was the culmination of these features and a cabin that exuded a premium feel, complemented by a suspension setup that absorbed the harshness of long stretches of challenging roads, providing a ride that was nothing short of plush.

Navigating over eight kilometers of unsealed and rugged terrain tested the Tiggo 7 Pro's off-road mettle. Its all-wheel-drive system, further enhanced by an 'off-road' mode, instilled a sense of confidence and security, navigating through slippery and uneven surfaces with surprising ease, demonstrating the vehicle’s capability to go beyond the urban jungle.

The early morning return journey illuminated additional aspects of the Tiggo 7 Pro's prowess, particularly its nighttime driving capabilities.

The vehicle's sophisticated lighting system, both internally and externally, not only provided practical illumination but also added an aesthetic appeal that enhanced the driving experience.

Maintaining an impressive fuel economy of 8.5L per 100km, in spite of the varied and challenging conditions, underscored the Tiggo 7 Pro’s efficiency and reliability as a companion for long hauls.

After traversing over 500 kilometers of some of Australia's most demanding roads, the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro emerged not just unscathed but also exceeded expectations, challenging preconceived notions about the capabilities of modern Chinese vehicles.

It demonstrated an admirable blend of safety, comfort, performance, and off-road capability, all packaged within an affordable price range, making it a compelling choice for adventurers and daily drivers alike.

Whether cruising through the historic beauty of Ballarat, tackling unsealed backroads, or simply enjoying the scenic vistas of Hamilton, the Tiggo 7 Pro stood as a reliable, comfortable, and capable partner.

In essence, the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro's journey through the Australian outback is a testament to the advancements and capabilities of Chinese automotive engineering.

It successfully marries affordability with functionality, challenging the status quo and setting a new benchmark for what consumers can expect from budget-friendly SUVs. The Tiggo 7 Pro not only navigated the challenging Australian terrain with aplomb but also reshaped perceptions, establishing itself as a formidable contender in the global automotive arena.

Matt Brand
Matt Brand, the esteemed car critic from Car Sauce, offers unparalleled expertise on all things automotive. From new car releases to pre-owned options, he provides in-depth analysis and honest evaluations to guide readers through the car-buying process. Join us as he delves into the exciting world of motoring.

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