GWM Florid has plenty X factor

By Peta Lee Time of article published Jan 10, 2011

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MOM'S TAXI TEST: Peta Lee searches for that X factor in the GWM FloridCross:

I'm becoming a big fan of the Great Wall Motors brand. I've just had a peek at the new range of bakkies, and was awed at the value-for-money deals to be had.

The passenger cars are no different. I bonded beautifully with the Florid last year, and my sentiments have been reinforced after spending a couple of weeks with the sporty Florid X, or Cross.

Mark my words when I say GWM is well worth watching here in SA, and we shouldn't be too hasty to write it off.

On the contrary, as China's largest privately owned carmaker, and the first privately owned vehicle company in China to be listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, GWM has been producing bakkies and double cab vehicles for more than a decade for Chinese consumption and overseas export.

It was also the first Chinese carmaker to receive the EU E1-Mark, proving that its production capacity and quality management standards are in line with the EU's requirements in countries like the Middle East, South Africa and South America.

With its launch of the Florid, and the now the Florid X, GWM has proven that it can put its money where its mouth is and live up to its promise that “affordability need not compromise reliability, specification and customer service”.

I found the Florid X as much fun to drive as the Florid: both are powered by the 1500 VVT motor, both have manual gearboxes, and both are five-door hatches.

The X model is sportier, as the name suggests, boasting roof rails, beefier 16-inch wheels as opposed to 15-inchers, and more macho black exterior trim. You'll also find electroplated door handles, a zippier interior and nice big headlights.

The Florid is powered by the aforementioned fuel-injected 77kW petrol engine (138Nm at 4200rpm), “which allows you to play as hard as you work, without compromising an inch of comfort or style,” says GWM. Oh, and you can crank it up to its top speed of around 160km/h with no effort, should you desire.

With its bright red seats, rather surprising boot space (once the seats have been flipped down), and nippy handling, I found it a fun, funky little car that slotted into any parking, behaved well in the wet weather, was easy to drive and, always important to my daughter, looked good as well!

Interested motorists and pedestrians who stopped to enquire about the car were blown away when I told them how cheap it was: R125 000 for a vehicle sporting standard features like aircon, ABS with EBD, CD player with MP3, remote central locking, dual airbags, electric windows, etc etc...

I have a friend who traded in her A-class Mercedes for the Florid when it first came out (after she'd seen me driving one). She loves her lipstick red little Chinese runabout, and is on the point of upgrading it to the Florid X... she's made the swop from luxury German to affordable Chinese and has “absolutely no regrets,” she tells me. “I love it.”

So do I.

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