Car reviews - Chery - Omoda5
Decent driveline performance, feature-rich equipment list, edgy styling, surprisingly well-engineered body with quality fit and finish, affordable alternative to mainstream models
Room for improvement
Notchy steering, random HMI failures, poor fuel consumption and emissions, over-active ADAS technologies, poor headroom front and rear, wind noise, superfluous gimmicky features
Strong value and edgy styling can’t mask the Chery Omoda 5’s many shortcomings
14 Sep 2023
THE Chery Omoda 5 T230 EX (as tested) sells from $32,900 excluding on-road costs placing it among a plethora of similar looking small SUVs, some with drive away pricing, some not. It sits atop the BX variant (from $29,990 +ORC) and will be followed soon by more powerful front- and all-wheel drive variants, and an all-electric model.
The Chinese-made model competes with the likes of the GWM Haval Jolion (from $28,490 drive-away), MG ZS (from $23,990 drive-away) and MG ZST (from $26,990 drive-away) as one of the cheapest new SUVs on the Aussie market.
Against its cheaper rivals, Chery Australia has crammed the Omoda 5 full of kit to offer a handsomely featured small SUV for an impressive price.
Both Omoda 5 variants have 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, keyless entry with push-button and remote engine start, cabin pre-heating and pre-cooling, noise-reducing windscreen with “silent” wipers, synthetic leather seats and dual-zone climate control with rear vents.
That is on top of a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, one-touch power windows for all doors, ambient lighting (front of cabin), a twin-screen digital dash with 10.25-inch driver display plus 10.25-inch central infotainment screen, wireless Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto, wireless device charging, eight-speaker Sony stereo and “Hello Chery” voice control.
For the extra dosh, the Omoda 5 EX gains red brake callipers and design flourishes, “Omoda” puddle lighting, ambient interior lighting (front and rear), heated front seats, heated steering wheel, power-adjust passenger seat, powered tailgate, powered sunroof and a 360-degree around-view camera.
The Omoda 5 range has a full suite of high-tech safety systems including lane change assist, lane departure warning and prevention, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert with braking, automatic emergency braking, traffic jam assist, traffic sign recognition with speed limit information and speed control assist, driver monitoring system and emergency lane keeping – more on those in a moment.
The model is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 108kW and 230Nm and a nine-step continuously variable transmission (CVT). Fuel economy is listed at a claimed 6.9 litres per 100km using cheaper 91 RON unleaded, and CO2 emissions 164 grams per kilometre.
Ownership prospects look good as there is a seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty plus seven years of roadside assist, and a seven-year/70,000km capped-price servicing plan.
The Chery Omoda 5 recently scored a five-star ANCAP rating using the just superseded testing 2021-2023 protocols.
Driving the Omoda 5 EX is a tiring exercise because of the amount of (switchable) but over-zealous Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) you have to work around, starting with the active lane keeping assist that takes control as soon as the driver “strays” a smidge too close to line markings.
It intervenes even when the three-flash indicator turns off during lane changing wriggling the steering wheel in your hands.
The automatic emergency braking (AEB) hits the panic button all too easily and sometimes randomly in slowing multi-lane traffic particularly when, for example, rounding a turn with a large (truck) in the next lane across.
On the test drive, the AEB clamped the brakes as we edged past a car travelling in the same direction turning left into a side street presumably because it thought we were too close… luckily nothing was behind us at the time.
With the active cruise control engaged in medium to heavy freeway traffic, things became worse as the Omoda 5 throttled back unnecessarily on approaching a bend or applied the brakes, swerved, and flashed warnings based on driving parameters set by someone who obviously hasn’t driven in Australia.
The slow-to-react drop-back effect allows more cars to change lanes in front resulting in even slower progress. It’s quite frustrating.
Then there’s the steering that feels dead at straight ahead before hitting what we can only describe as a big “notch” as direction input is dialled in. It is something we have never experienced before, almost as if the steering is “woken up” when moved from the 12 o’clock position.
Chery equips the Omoda 5 (and buyers pay for) absolutely useless technology such as the panoramic projected image of the vehicle turning a corner and the positioning of the vehicle in a traffic lane, both of which we would have thought the driver could see with their own eyes.
We had tech issues too with the adaptive cruise control activated, the system seemingly unable to figure out what the speed limit was and continually flashing from 40km/h to 80km/h, to 110km/h, and then back to 40km/h until we switched it off then switched it back on.
The same thing happened when we tried to connect to Apple CarPlay which was only do-able through a cable. Even hooking up Bluetooth was at times a challenge, and we really didn’t get on top of the whole infotainment system during the test drive because it seemed to have a mind of its own – and was seriously distracting to deal with.
There is more unnecessary technology in the Omoda 5 too, such as the eye tracking driver monitor that tells you if you’re distracted, even if you just turn your head to look out the side window, and a rear-view mirror that is optically incorrect (distorted).
On the bright side, the Chery Omoda 5 does offer decent performance and a sporty(ish) drive feel. In Sport mode, the turbocharged engine feels stronger than the 108kW stated output as the vehicle has almost instant response and strong pull across a wide engine rev range.
Minimal torque steer effect can be felt even at full throttle application and the CVT is adept at keeping the mill in its sweet spot, easily tapping into all of the 230Nm on hand.
We think the 6.9L/100km fuel consumption claim is optimistic. The best we managed on a 400km circuit taking in suburban, country and freeway environs was an 8.4L/100km, or 1.5 litres over the brochure’s claim.
The good thing here is that the Omoda 5 consumes regular 91RON unleaded that at the time of writing was up to 25 cents per litre less than premium 98RON petrol.
The engine is relatively quiet and smooth in operation, about on par with competitors and is only really audible when you sink the welly. But interior noise levels are punctuated by wind noise from the upper centre of the windscreen at highway speeds.
In terms of dynamics, the Omoda 5 is pretty good all things considered offering up a supple controlled ride with minimal deflection over rough surfaces and good grip from the tyres coupled with strong brakes, all spoiled by the dreadful steering.
The electrically adjustable seat does not offer height adjustment meaning tallish drivers (over 180cm) will feel the kiss of the roof due to sunroof intrusion. Fortunately, the seats are pretty comfortable, and the interior is a pleasant place to be, highlighted by the dual screen instrument and infotainment array and multiple soft-touch surfaces.
Headroom aside, adequate room for four is provided, five at a pinch, and the load space is a decent size.
We like the sharp looks of the Omoda 5 and a squiz underneath showed how far Chinese cars have progressed in a very short time from an engineering perspective. This was highlighted by the Omoda 5’s rear brake and suspension set-up that looks neater and better thought through than plenty of more highly regarded brands.
The same applies under the bonnet which looks as good as or better than products from a Japanese or Korean factory.
It is just a shame the rampant ADAS calibration and HMI failures let this vehicle down. In this writer’s opinion the former is something ANCAP really should start to address as there is the very real chance an ADAS-induced driver reaction could cause an accident, particularly when adapting to the technology from an older vehicle.
Yes, Chery is the number-one Chinese car exporter. But it would do well to learn from some of the more established players in the field in offering cars that are not only affordable, but also liveable. And for us, the Omoda 5 is a car we simply couldn’t live with given the abundance of better engineered offerings available.
1st of August 2023
Chery Omoda 5 gets five-star rating
ANCAP issues top marks to Chinese-made SUV, a ‘marked’ improvement for the brand
22nd of March 2023
Chery details new hybrid-only platform
Chinese brand says high-tech architecture will underpin a range of models from 2025
6th of March 2023
No drive-away pricing for Chery Omoda 5
Chery leaves ‘cheap and cheerful’ to rivals as $30K Omoda 5 opener excludes on-roads
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