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Fit and finish in cabin show improvement over earlier Chinese products.
Fit and finish in cabin show improvement over earlier Chinese products.

Great Wall Motors is probably more recognisable locally as a Chinese bakkie importer, but this week launched its second passenger hatchback in South Africa, the C10.

The C10, just like GWM’s other hatch, the Florid, is also styled suspiciously like Toyota’s previous-generation Yaris hatch but this time around gets a very interesting front end that we think looks like a set of giant chromed walrus tusks. You can’t miss it.

While the base model Florid was discontinued recently, the slightly raised and beefier looking Florid Cross will continue to be sold alongside the new C10 in GWM dealerships, although it’s fairly obvious that the Cross will also be cancelled soon given the fact that it’s nearly identical to the C10 in size, features and mechanicals.

The main difference between the Cross and the C10 (besides a few millimetres of ride height) is price, meaning that the R13 000 more expensive C10 could soon be GWM’s only passenger car choice in our market.

THE ONLY OPTION IS COLOUR

The C10 will be sold in one trim level only with the only option being colour. It’s powered by the same 1.5-litre petrol engine as the Florid and makes the same 77kW and 138Nm. It gets a variable valve timing system that helps produce power at higher revs, but being naturally aspirated the C10 does feel rather wheezy at Johannesburg altitude where I drove the car at its media launch earlier this week.

A five-speed manual transmission is the only gearbox available but GWM says an automatic option might come in the future.

Standard features include a radio/CD player with MP3 and aux-in compatibility, rear park assist, electric windows, 15” alloys, remote central locking, a height (but not reach) adjustable steering wheel with audio controls, and air conditioning. GWM is also quite proud of the rear seats which fold down (but not completely flat) in the usual 60/40 split, but also slide fore and aft to create boot space.

When forward however, there is literally no space for rear passengers.

Dual front airbags and antilock braking with electronic brake-force distribution are also standard features.

Out on the road the C10 drives reasonably well other than the pedestrian power, a very flimsy clutch feel and a throttle pedal that sticks to the carpet. I found the car to be much quieter than most other Chinese hatchbacks I’ve driven, and the ride quality is relatively good.

The fit and finish of the interior is also much better than what we found in the first Chinese imports about five years ago, but are still not as good as what you’d find in rivals such as VW’s Polo Vivo, the Ford Figo and Toyota’s Etios - which are all cheaper than the C10.

The new C10 is available now for R135 000, which includes a three-year or 100 000km warranty and 24-hour roadside assistance. - Star Motoring