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Chinese Avanza clone launched in SA

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IOL mot pic dec12 FAW Sirius 1

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Sirius seven-seater has 67kW 1.3-litre petrol engine, will be avalable later with 1.5-litre power.

South African drivers have become used to seeing Chinese-built FAW trucks on the country's highway over the past two decades but now the Imperial Group is launching a range of FAW cars and light commercials.

The first to arrive are the Sirius seven-seater peopler carrier and panel van, priced at R159 995 and R149 995 respectively, each with a 1.3-litre petrol engine, with a 1.5-litre version to joining the range later.

The FAW group has joint ventures in China with Volkswagen, Mazda, GM and Toyota - which may explain the uncanny resemblance between the Sirius and the previous-generation Toyota Avanza - the side and rear three-quarter views, and the dashboard, look almost identical.

When asked about the similarity by IOL Motoring, FAW brand manager for cars and LCVs, Pedro Pereira, confirmed that there had been a tie-up between FAW and Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu and the Sirius was a product of that previous venture.

COMPREHENSIVE KIT

Second-hand styling or no, standard kit on both the seven-seater and the van includes alloy rims (including the spare), power steering, aircon, dual front airbags, anti-lock braking, remote central locking with keyless entry, power windows, a radio/MP3 player with a USB port, front and rear foglights, alarm/immobiliser, auto headlight levelling, child locks for the rear doors of the seven-seater and LED indicator repeaters in the front and in the side mirrors.

IOL mot pic dec12 FAW Sirius 2

From this angle the resemblance to the Avanza is uncanny.

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The 1.3-litre is rated for 67kW at 6000rpm and 120Nm at 4000rpm, driving the rear wheels through a five-speed manual 'box; Pereira claims average fuel consumption of 7.4 litres per 100km.

Front suspension is independent with Macpherson struts, with a live rear axle on coil-sprung multi-link suspension. The seven-seater can carry 525kg (passengers and cargo) while the panel van, which comes with an aluminium load-bay floor, can pack 545kg into a load bay 1670mm long, 1270mm wide and 1070mm high.

That's 2.27 cubic metres, to save you doing the sums.

Both versions are covered by a three-year or 100 000km factory warranty, a four-year or 60 000km service plan and one year's roadside assistance.

Up to now the Sirius has been exported only to the Middle East and North Africa; South Africa is the first right-hand drive market to get them, after some changes to the seven-seater for the local market, such as a retractable cover for the luggage compartment and hooks to hold the third-row seatbelts when they're not in use.

The two Sirius models will be available through 13 existing AMH multi-franchise dealers and an independent dealer in Witbank, but Pereira said he planned to extend that to 22 dealers, covering all major centres.

IOL mot pic dec12 FAW Sirius 3

Interior view shows more eveidence of Toyota ancestry.

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The FAW range will be extended early in 2013 to include a small hatchback called the V2 (also with a choice of 1.3 or 1.5-litre petrol power) and a B-segment sedan by mid-year.

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