By: IOL Motoring Staff

Johannesburg - GWM's shift to upper segments of the market continues unabated with the all-new C50, which goes head-to-head with the Toyota Corolla and friends.

It's a relatively smart-looking effort that isn't a blatant copy of anything else on the market, although the shape of its door windows and the two-tier dashboard design do imply that GMW might have acquired the tooling of the previous-generation Honda Civic.

TURBO POWER

The engine is GWM's own, however, and it's also a product of the modern down-sized era. The 1.5-litre turbopetrol features variable valve timing and delivers 93kW at 5600rpm and 188Nm of twist between 2000 and 4500rpm.

GWM claims a sub-10-second 0-100km/h sprint time, 185km/h top speed and combined fuel consumption amounting to 7.4 litres per 100km. Drive, of course, is through the front wheels, via a five-speed manual transmission.

To achieve an amicable balance between ride comfort and cornering ability, GMW opted for a fully independent multi-link suspension set-up, something that many of its rivals can't claim. Ride comfort, along with interior leg room for that matter, is aided by the relatively long 2700mm wheelbase. The C50's large 530 litre boot will be another selling point.

LUXURY OR ELITE?

The sedan is offered with two grades: Luxury and Elite. Both feature air conditioning, power steering, electric windows and mirrors and a CD/MP3/USB/Aux audio system.

Opt for the Elite and you'll gain a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a height-adjustable driver's seat, upgraded speakers, cruise control and rear park distance control. The seats in both models are upholstered in what GWM calls a durable black cloth material.

The safety package comprises dual front airbags and ABS brakes, while the C50's structure earned it a five-star (Chinese) C-NCAP safety rating.

The sedan is sold with a five-year/100 000km warranty and five-year/60 000km service plan. But, whether the rand's to blame or not, the prices don't seem tempting enough to lure buyers out of the more mainstream sedans in the segment.

Are they asking too much for it?

THE BILL

C50T Luxury - R234 999

C50T Elite - R249 999