Review: Chery Tiggo 8 Pro – A Better Buy Than a Proton?

It seems impossible to escape Chinese car makers these days. Where Chinese cars once offered boring designs with interiors that left much to be desired, these days Chinese brands are leading the world with technologies and designs that sometimes put them far ahead of the establishment.

Take Chery for example. There is a lot that has been said about the brand and while not all of them have been savory, the fact of the matter is that Chery is back in Malaysia, and it means business.

Unlike before, Chery has ditched the middlemen and is officially present here in Malaysia with a full blown local assembly program, which it is doing with Inokom at the latter’s assembly plant in Kulim, Kedah.

Chery has made Malaysia its regional hub and will not only sell its cars in the local market but will also ship Malaysian-assembled Chery’s to regional markets as well. So, no matter what your opinion is about the Chery brand, it has returned stronger than ever with plans that will create jobs and bolster the economy.

Chery deserves credit for this bold move as well. In fact, even Proton with its Chinese funding through Geely and government backing started its X70 as a CBU product before moving to a local assembly program. Chery dived right in with a local-assembly program, so a tip of the hat is much deserved.

One of the cars that Chery is building locally is the Tiggo 8 Pro. The D-Segment flagship SUV counts the Proton X70, Proton X90, Toyota Innova Zenix, Mazda CX-8, and even the new Honda CRV as direct competitors.

Priced at RM159,800, it is also surprisingly good value for money as well.

In terms of proportions, the Tiggo 8 Pro is a very big car. But if you delve into the numbers, the Tiggo 8 Pro is both shorter and narrower than the Proton X90 by a few millimeters.

The design is what turns heads as well. The front is undeniably handsome with a jewel crusted grille which Chery calls the galaxy grille. It is flanked by headlights that incorporate twin LED daytime running lights that lend a premium touch to the overall design of the car.

The rear of the car features an LED light bar that connects both taillamps, something that a lot of new cars seem to feature these days. And typical of new cars is a light display that puts on a little show every time you lock or unlock the car. No matter your take on that, it is undeniably impressive.

The interior matches the exterior as far as good looks go. Everything is well placed and feels well built. The car we drove for this review had been around for a while and had been passed around from one reviewer to another, which means it had been put through its paces.

Despite that, it felt good and there was none of that odd buzzing or knocking that is typical of cars that had been driven harder than most.

And no matter how hard we tried, there was no getting away from the Mercedes-Benz influence everywhere around the cabin. It is hard to miss unless you have never been in or driven a Mercedes-Benz before.

The start button is identical to the one in the previous generation Mercedes, as are the seat controls, the buttons and icons as well as the two screens that seem to merge into one gigantic one that measures in at 24.6-inches in total.

Even the speaker grilles look like they have been influenced by the Burmester system found in a Mercedes.

But that is not necessarily a bad thing, because though heavily “inspired” by the German carmaker, Chery’s design team has done well to add its little touches around the cabin.

The seats deserve a special mention as not only are they ventilated, but also look great with unique stitching. They are also impressively comfortable with the supple leather soaking up the weight of the occupant, giving a feeling where you sink into the seats rather than sit on them. We would go so far as to say that the seats of the Tiggo 8 are probably the best in its class, as far as comfort goes at least.

However, we also must mention that the design of the dashboard and the raised centre console makes it difficult for tall or broad drivers to get comfortable. Knee space takes a hit due to the curvature of the dashboard and the raised centre console means there is nowhere for your knee to go but down, and that takes some getting used to.

It takes all of two days to learn to deal with that though, and as soon as you get over it, you can start to appreciate the finer things that the car has to offer. Such as the plush suspension that seems to soak up everything Malaysian roads can muster.

The suspension is set up for comfort than anything else. And it is perhaps a little too soft as there seems to be noticeable body roll, just like that of an early 2000’s SUV. But it is difficult to fault because it is not a performance SUV but rather one that is focused on comfort and convenience. And it does that job brilliantly.

The one place where it might be difficult to get comfortable though is in the third-row seats. They are small with very little legroom, so it is best left for shorter people or children. But whoever it is that takes those seats though will surely appreciate having their own air-conditioning vents and blower settings.

But just about anyone can appreciate that gargantuan booth space when the third-row seats are folded in place. And we are awe struck by the fact that the tonneau cover has its own special storage area that holds it in place and out of sight. That is something that car makers like Mazda and Honda can take a card from.

Driving the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro is something that you will either love or hate. The 2.0-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine makes 256hp and 390Nm of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that is silky smooth. The output figures makes the Tiggo 8 Pro is one of the most powerful in its class, but it is not esy to drive it smoothly.

Every time you get on the accelerator, there is a moment of nothingness and then a wall of power surges in. This tends to catch you off guard initially, and in response you tend get off the power immediately. The result of this is a tired neck as your head bobs forward and backward with every touch of the accelerator. And, as some of our passengers said, a nauseated feeling.

Perhaps it was a fault with the car that we drove because it is difficult to believe that a manufacturer of Chery’s stature did not iron this out. But we found a way around it, to make the car easier to drive smoothly.

The Tiggo 8 Pro comes with three driving modes – Eco, Normal and Sport. It was perfectly fine when we drove in Sport mode and in fact the car generally felt better to drive as all systems felt more alert. The steering had a better feel to it, the gear shifts were quicker and more importantly the accelerator was easier to regulate with none of that choppy accelerator feel; the Tiggo 8 Pro is at its finest in Sport mode.

And so, at RM159,800, it is difficult to ignore the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro. It is simply too good of a proposition to ignore. Its design is nearly faultless, and the interior is one of the best in its segment as far as space and comfort goes. We also love the eight-speaker Sony audio system and the fact that it comes with Wireless Apple CarPlay.

Then there is the suite of Advanced Driver Aids systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, front collision warning with auto brake and a 360-degree camera with crisp display.

And if you are worried about the Chery brand and are unconvinced by its resurgence here in Malaysia, well the Tiggo 8 Pro comes with a seven-year or 150,000km warranty on the car, but if you are willing to spend an additional RM2,000, Chery Malaysia will give you a 10-year or one-million-kilometer warranty on the engine. And the real cherry on this Chery (pardon the pun) is the five-year free service package with alternating free labour.

Chery Malaysia is undoubtedly pulling out all the stops to assure Malaysians that it is here to stay and that its products are much more than just your regular run of the mill cars. And after driving the Tiggo 8 Pro, we think it is just a matter of time before Chery starts vying for the top of the sales charts.

And finally, is it a better buy than a Proton X70? The X70 is undeniably cheaper, but it has been around for a while. And while the top of the line variant will cost you RM128,800, the Tiggo 8 Pro will still cost you about RM30,000 more. However, if price is no issue, then the Chery has our pick.

As compared to the Proton X90 though, the Proton has a more functional third row and is bigger as well. But the Chery feels more refined, and more premium, so we are undecided on this, for now. Look out for our comparison review where we compared the Tiggo 8 Pro against the X90.

Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch
Power: 256hp
Torque: 390Nm
Price (as tested): RM159,800
We like: Design, Features, Spaciousness
We don’t like: Choppy accelerator feel

A car stirs the soul, a motorbike is the soul. Keshy has been a motoring journalist for over a decade and has written for and founded a number of Malaysian motoring titles including Piston.my, Bikesrepulic.com, Motomalaya.net and other mass media titles.

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