Launch Review: 2023 Chery Tiggo 8 Pro offers good value but lacks finesse in some areas

Published Aug 31, 2023


South African consumers have really taken to Chinese automaker Chery with total sales locally standing at 20 000 units in the last 18 months.

In a local context, that’s not an insignificant number and makes them one of the top 10 best selling brands.

The Chery Tiggo 8 Pro was introduced at the beginning of last year, tweaked towards the end of the year, and the more powerful Tiggo 8 Pro Max was also added to the mix. In keeping with its fast evolving offerings, both models have now received significant interior and exterior styling upgrades.

The engines have been retained with the Tiggo 8 Pro powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, providing 145kW and 290Nm, and the Tiggo 8 Pro Max, which we drove on launch, featuring a beefier 2.0-litre turbo petrol mill pushing out 187kW and 390Nm.

Both send power to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission.

The most significant change to the exterior is the new front grille design that they say is a reinterpretation of the “galaxy full of stars” and is informally called the “warp-speed grille”.

The Chery logo lights up using LED lights that combine with a special light-up sequence of the LED Matrix headlamps and LED daytime running lights. Pretty nifty, I think.

The rear has also received a sporty upgrade with a redesigned tail light clusters connected by an LED light bar.

The Pro stands on 17-inch diamond-cut alloys while the 8 Pro Max sports 18-inch rims.

The interior has received a complete makeover, the most obvious being the two thin and connected dual screen cluster system with a 12.35-inch digital instrument cluster and a touchscreen infotainment system mounted behind a 24.7-inch single screen.

The third screen that was mounted on the lower level of the centre console that managed the climate control has been replaced by a set of haptic touch-sensitive buttons that are easier to control and also safer when you’re behind the wheel.

There’s less glass but they do add an extra sense of style to the seven seater SUV that allows all rows to set their own temperatures.

The dashboard has received a complete makeover with upmarket soft-touch materials, wood grain patterns and silver finishing, much the same as some of the switchgear. The centre console features a new gear lever, revised cup holders and a 50W wireless charging pad.

As you would expect it’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, has a panoramic sunroof, four USB ports (2xA and 2xC), voice recognition and commands, fully electrically adjustable seats and an eight-speaker Sony audio system that can “dance” to your selected music with the 64 hue customisable ambient lighting.

I don’t think bopping lights to whatever new repetitive YouTube music sensation is something I’d want to distract me, but there you are.

It seems that most cars, perhaps not so much on the top end and performance versions, these days are mostly about technology and connectivity and less about the driving dynamics, handling, steering and chassis or suspension performance.

It’s not just limited to a single manufacturer mind you and as the world becomes all about new energy vehicles, Google, self drive and whatever else the future holds, the bulk of consumers care more about whether they can read/hear a restaurant review in their car than what it’s like to drive on the way to their meal and then be able to post a picture and hashtag it on the way home.

It was something I was thinking about while driving the N3 and some spectacularly potholed roads between Durban and Nottingham Road on the launch drive.

Look, there’s nothing exceptionally jarring or wrong per se with the Tiggo 8 Pro Max’s handling and performance but for a luxury SUV I would have preferred a little more finesse to go with its looks and outstanding interior.

When you pull away it goes from zero to hero in a heartbeat and wheelspin on loose underfooting happens regularly. Switching to Eco Mode had a negligible effect but once you’re on your way things are more under control with smooth enough gear changes.

These are more calibration and software issues, that given the warp speed Chinese manufacturers’ quality has improved over the last few years, should easily be sorted.

Suspension is on the firm side, made more noticeable on a stretch of gravel road or when avoiding a gaping hole in the tar wasn’t possible. Perhaps the tyres were aired too hard but It’s certainly something Chery can look at to improve the overall drive.

Fuel consumption hovered around 11l/100km, which isn’t great when you consider that a colleague was getting 7.4l/100km in an enormous BMW 740i or 10l/100km in a Defender 130.

I have heard reports though that after the first service and oil change there’s a marked decrease in consumption so there’s that to consider.

Will these have an influence on whether a customer signs on the dotted line?

It’s highly unlikely because the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max is a real value proposition featuring an array of safety technologies, more technology than you can shake a stick at and very decent warranties in a tightly contested market.

The Chery Tiggo 8 Pro comes with a five-year/60 000km service plan and five-year/150 000km mechanical warranty and the Tiggo 8 Pro MAX gets a seven-year/90 000km service plan and the same mechanical warranty. They also offer a 10-year/1-million kilometre warranty for the first owner. There is an option to upgrade to a comprehensive maintenance plan.

Pricing: (August 2023)

Tiggo 8 Pro 1.6T Executive - R609 900

Tiggo 8 Pro MAX 2.0T Executive - R669 900