From any angle the Chery Omoda 5 EX is a striking bit of kit, demanding more than a casual glance from the public at large. At least that’s the overwhelming reaction this thing is receiving and that was only day two behind the wheel for me.
It’s not just the edgy design, animated indicator lights, or even the not-so-subtle metallic red trim bits spread liberally around the car that causes heads to swivel. It’s all that and a lot more if you count the sheer number of features onboard the Omoda 5, and all for an exceptionally reasonable price that’s bound to attract budget-conscious buyers and prudent corporate fleet managers.
Mind, Chery has its work cut out for it if Omoda 5 is looking for solid sales numbers in what is one of the most hotly contested segments in the country. One that counts no less than 23 makes and models all vying for a bigger slice of market share in the ‘Small SUV’ category under $45,000.
The fact Chery is another Chinese-owned brand shouldn’t matter one iota either to the new-car buyer either, given the sales superstar in this class is none other than SAIC Motors’ MG ZS, which utterly dominates the sales charts with a huge 25 per cent share.
GWM is in there too, with its Haval Jolion ticking along nicely with a commendable 7.2 per cent share – and trending up, as the stats go.
Sitting well behind the MG are a host of the more popular models from well-established brands including the Subaru Crosstrek, Kia Seltos, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-30, Volkswagen T-Roc and Toyota C-HR – all of which continue to notch up respectable volumes each month.
Nevertheless, the Chery Omoda 5 outsold the Nissan Qashqai, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, Skoda Kamiq and plenty of others in June this year on the back of its undeniable bang-for-buck offering and eye-catching looks.
It really does stand out from the crowd with enough modernity to even pass as an EV in the eyes of one casual observer. I particularly like the rear end with its clean lines and cutting-edge LEDs, with a decidedly coupe-like silhouette to boot.
There’s definitely a dollop of Lexus styling in Omoda 5’s overall design, both front and rear, and that’s no bad thing, as the execution is quite pleasing.
Interestingly, Chery is a brand which has its sights set on the global market, with sales for the first half of 2023 topping 70,000 units, as it climbs its way towards an annual target of 200,000 overseas sales.
The Chery Omoda 5 is currently available in just two, easy-to-understand trim levels in Australia with the entry point into the range kicking off with the Omoda 5 BX from $32,990 drive-away (prices vary slightly from state-to-state), while the top-spec Omoda 5 EX tested here is priced from $35,990 drive away, excluding options.
C2023 hery Omoda 5 pricing:
- Omoda 5 BX: $32,990 drive away
- Omoda 5 EX: $35,990 drive away
Options on the EX include; metallic paint (Space Black, Midnight Blue, Jupiter Blue, Lunar White, Mercurial Grey, Saturn Silver) at $500.
Red accent, which includes red highlights for the front splitter, side skirts, roof spoiler and wheel spokes is priced at $600, and only available with Lunar White, Mercurial Grey and Saturn Silver paints.
Two-tone roof is also an optional extra, with Titan Green with white roof $600; or Lunar White, Mercurial Grey, Saturn Silver only with red accent and Black roof: $1200.
Key rivals include the Haval Jolion Ultra priced from $33,490, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross LS 2WD at $37,190, Nissan Qashqai ST+ from $41,458 and Toyota C-HR Koba 2WD Hybrid at $43,251.
All prices listed are drive away.
First off, it doesn’t look or feel like an SUV for the budget-conscious tribe. Not with those electrically-adjustable, thickly-cushioned plush seats with sporty bolsters and contrast piping.
You’d swear they were upholstered in genuine hide, but alas, they’re synthetic leather. Oh, and they’re heated as well and all the better for it with cold, early morning trips.
Same goes for the leather-look, flat-bottom steering wheel. It looks and feels premium with quality brightwork and damped instrument stalks. There are no paddleshifters though. If you want maximum throttle response, just hit the drive mode button and you’ll go from Eco to Sport.
It’s a proper tech-centric cockpit but clean and uncluttered, with a just a few key touch buttons and a solitary knurled dial for quick volume adjustments on the run.
There’s also a nicely-designed electronic shifter and glass-like start/stop button, which may or may not be inspired by the Mercedes-AMG go-fast division.
It’s all quite tasteful, too, like almost everything else in the top-spec Omoda 5, except maybe for the ambient lighting program that changes colours to the beat of the music. The kids will be all over it of course.
Ahead of the shifter, there are two Tesla-style, felt-lined phone cradles, but only the left side operates as a 15W wireless charging bay. The other is for the key fob. Incidentally, the Omoda 5 automatically unlocks as you approach it with the key fob in your pocket and auto locks as you leave once parked. No chance of leaving your car unlocked.
HVAC design consists of a full-length horizontal vent with quality-look brightwork and controlled via a full bank of touch-capacitive buttons to match the horizontal lines of the vents above. Tap any one of them and up pops a full-size climate-control menu for you to customise.
And those vent openers are also nicely damped – pointing towards the level of detail on offer here.
Headlining the tech display are the two adjoining screens, both 10.25-inches in size; one touchscreen and one digital driver’s display. Both are sharp and offer good clarity and colour with mostly quick response.
The digital instrument display is customisable with three formats to choose from, but sadly, all I really wanted was a supersized speed reading in the centre, which just isn’t an option at this point.
The joy and convenience of wireless Apple CarPlay cannot be overstated, and in our Omoda 5 tester the connection was superfast and proved entirely drop-out free over the week we spent with the Chery.
I was half expecting a hard-surface dash, but it’s all soft-touch and only interrupted by a reasonably decent Sony audio system with large central speaker and a couple of branded tweeters on the A-pillars.
Storage is another significant Omoda 5 strongpoint given its ‘small SUV’ standing, with a large rubber-lined space under the centre console bridge along with dual cupholders and a reasonably-sized storage bin, which also doubles as a centre armrest.
And for those buyers contemplating family trips away, drivers get a large footrest – more important than you might think with adaptive cruise control engaged.
Back in the second row the seats are equally well cushioned with central armrest, cupholders and properly-enclosed map pockets.
There are rear vents too, along with a single USB-A charging port and full-size door pockets.
Power tailgates are a rarity in this segment, except for the Omoda 5 – revealing 360 litres of boot space behind the 60/40 split-fold rear seats. It isn’t overly generous compared with rivals such as Nissan Qashqai (418L), GWM Haval Jolion (430L), but its ever slightly more than the MG ZST (359L).
Fold the rear seats almost flat, though and the Chery’s carrying capacity expands to 1075 litres, but again, that’s down on competitors.
Nevertheless, there’s are small-but-deep cavities each side of the boot floor that can swallow a grocery bag each, if necessary, but no way to fold those rear seats from the rear, so you’ll need to do that first, before you start loading it up.
For the moment at least, there’s just one powertrain available for the Chery Omoda 5, and it’s a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine – badged 230T.
It makes a modest 108kW of power at 5500rpm and 210Nm of torque from 1750-4000rpm driving the front wheels exclusively via a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) with two drive modes; Eco and Sport.
Fuel consumption is a claimed 6.9L/100km on the combined cycle using 91 RON unleaded and a 50L tank, but with a week of largely urban kays, the tripmeter read an average of 10.4L/100km. Given it gets off the line with some urgency, I was pretty happy with that.
But if you want a bit more go from your Omoda 5, there’s a beefier 1.6-turbo four-pot on the way, packing 145kW and 290Nm through a seven-speed DCT, driving all-four wheels.
The Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) have previously received criticism, however Chery has since updated the calibration of these systems which worked without issue during our most recent testing.
Sheer suburban contentment had me driving our Omoda 5 EX tester in Eco mode for the first day-and-a-half, not thinking anything of it. For what it’s worth, it still gets off the line with plenty of pep despite its relatively small displacement engine – as long as you put the boot in.
It’s one of the few advantages of a CVT transmission – plenty of go on tap throughout the entire rev range, and in this instance, it’s pleasantly rorty with a nice snarl to it especially in Sport, being the only other drive mode available.
Mind, I’m looking forward to the more powerful EX+ variants joining the Omoda 5 stable late in 2023, armed with a 1.6-litre turbo motor and its significantly more grunt on tap and a dual-clutch gearbox, which should make Omoda 5 feel a bit more exciting. Especially given there’ll also be an AWD version available.
Nevertheless, I wasn’t left wanting for more poke while tootling around home on the Northern Beaches, albeit with a quick trip out to Costco at Auburn with my neighbour.
The steering is a bit lifeless but it’s quick to respond to inputs, with sufficiently light weighting for easy parking in tight spots. However, there’s not a lot of communication through the steering wheel about what the driven wheels are doing. I feel this could be improved with local testing and tuning.
There’s still some work to do on the chassis engineering side of things too, if Omoda 5 is to compete with the more established brands in the category, when it comes to ride comfort on Sydney’s not-so-good suburban asphalt.
While larger speed bumps and broken road are suitably cushioned, it’s a sharp and busy ride over potholes and crumbling edges. It’s likely the damper tune needs to be better calibrated to deal with local conditions here, but it’s by no means the worst when it comes to ride compliance. Just ask any Tesla Model 3 passenger.
At lower speeds through roundabouts there’s some initial body roll on turn-in, but then it tends to settle. Again, this is where a more appropriate damper tune would benefit the overall composure, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker.
There’s plenty of configurability with the driver’s instrument display with its three themes, but I found the speed readout smaller than I’d prefer given the changing speed conditions we all face these days.
I’d also like it centrally positioned on the screen for better visibility from the driver’s seat.
That said, the multitude of rear-view camera angles and crisp clarity when reversing into tight spaces make city parking a breeze in the Omoda 5.
Omoda 5 BX highlights:
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Automatic LED headlights
- Automatic high-beam
- Front fog lights
- LED tail lights with directional indicators
- Power-folding exterior mirrors
- 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster
- 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Wireless phone charger
- Eight-speaker Sony sound system
- Keyless entry and start
- 6-way power driver’s seat
- One-touch power windows
- Synthetic leather upholstery
- Rear air vents
- Remote start
- Front multi-colour ambient lighting
- 2 x USB outlets
- 1 x USB-C outlet
Omoda 5 EX adds:
- Omoda LED puddle lights
- Red brake callipers
- Heated front seats
- Heated steering wheel
- Second-row ambient lighting
- Exterior LED welcoming lights
- 4-way power passenger seat
- Surround-view camera
- Power tailgate
- Power sunroof
The Chery Omoda 5 is available in the following colours
- Space Black
- Mercurial Grey
- Saturn Silver
- Lunar White
- Titan Green
- Jupiter Blue
- Midnight Blue
In the EX, Mercurial Grey, Lunar White and Saturn Silver are also available with bold red accents on the side skirts, mirrors, wheels and front bumper.
On the back of a five-star Euro NCAP rating from crash-test results in 2022, along with an update to the lane support software running in Australian-supplied vehicles from April 2023, the Chery Omoda 5 has received a five-star ANCAP safety rating, which applies to 1.5-litre petrol variants sold in Australia.
It received adult occupant protection score of 87 per cent, child occupant protection score of 88 per cent, vulnerable road user score of 68 per cent and safety assist score of 83 per cent.
Standard safety features include:
- 7 airbags incl. front-centre
- Autonomous emergency braking
- Adaptive cruise control
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Emergency lane keeping
- Integrated Cruise Assist
- Lane-keep assist
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- Traffic jam assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Driver attention monitoring
- Reversing camera
- Front, rear parking sensors
The Omoda 5 EX adds a surround-view camera.
The Chery Omoda 5 is backed by a seven-year factory warranty, along with seven years of capped-price servicing and seven years of roadside assistance.
The service intervals for Omoda 5 is 12 months or 10,000km (whichever comes first), while the final factory-scheduled service with be either the 84-month or 70,000km mark.
Service charges are largely inexpensive at $280 for all but the ‘F’ Service at 72 months/60,000km, priced at $391.04.
In many respects the Chery Omoda 5 is a compelling proposition for those on a tight budget, yet unwilling to compromise when it comes to all the latest mod cons and creature comforts.
Because the range-topping Omoda 5 comes standard with pretty much everything you might find in a car costing twice its price.
However, it’s by no means perfect, with a suspension tune more suited to smoother roads than what we have here.
Nevertheless, such issues are entirely fixable with a degree of local testing and tuning, something Chery Australia has indicated it’s willing to look at, perhaps in time for the EX+ variants, even.
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