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Car reviews - Chery - Omoda5 - EX


Omoda 5 ticks boxes for price, warranty and safety, marred by a few annoying niggles

20 Mar 2023



CHERY is back, and while it might still stand for affordable motoring, it has taken a very different direction for its second attempt at the Australian new car market. 


The first new Chery in almost a decade is the Omoda 5, a small SUV that sits in the busiest part of the Aussie automotive landscape alongside rivals like the MG ZST, GWM Haval Jolion, Kia Stonic, Hyundai Venue, Volkswagen T-Cross… you get the picture.


It’s small, and so is the price – relatively, anyway, as the brand is pitching this loaded-up little crossover model at buyers who want to get a bit of bang for their buck. As such, the two-model line-up at launch has list pricing of $29,900 before on-road costs for the base grade BX, and $32,900 + ORC for the top-spec EX tested here.


There will be other Omoda 5 variants coming with different powertrain options, including an electric version, but the ones that have arrived so far first run the same 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine, teamed with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic, and front-wheel drive.


Power figures are decent, at 108kW and 210Nm, meaning this little tacker offers class-competitive grunt.


It also comes extremely well equipped, with extensive standard equipment including a pair of 10.25-inch screens (one for media, the other for the driver’s info), synthetic leather seats, keyless entry and push-button start, dual-zone climate control, rear seat air-vents, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting front and rear, and much more.


Plus, the on-paper ownership prospects look good; there’s a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty plan, plus seven years of roadside assist, and a seven-year/70,000km capped-price servicing plan.


Further, it achieved the maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating in 2022, so it ticks the boxes for safety tech – on paper, at least. In the real world, it has some of the most annoying driver ‘assist’ technology available. 

Driving impressions


The driver-assist tech is perhaps the most frustrating element of the drive experience, with overactive and overzealous active lane-keeping technology when you have the adaptive cruise control system in use.

There’s also one of the most distracting anti-distraction apparatuses I’ve ever come across; Chery employs an eye-tracking camera that will warn you if it thinks you’re not paying attention to the road. It is ridiculously impractical and actually annoyed me so much that I think I was driving worse as a result of it being on. You can turn it off, but in my experience, it turns itself back on.


Some of the messaging displayed on the driver info screen includes ‘You have been distracted for a long time!’, and ‘You are no longer in driving condition!’. 


Tech turds aside, the drive experience leaves a bit to be desired. 


Ride quality is about the best thing the Omoda 5 has going for it, with the suspension offering up reasonably settled progress over urban lumps and bumps, and it hangs on in corners okay, too.


A shame, then, that the steering is strange. It has a very slow rack, meaning you have to turn the wheel a lot more than you probably ought to. Add to that the flat-bottom steering wheel is too big for this size of car, and it feels like you’re pushing around a bigger vehicle than it really is. Many rivals have notably better steering in terms of directness and response. 


The engine and transmission could do with further enhancement and refinement as well. There’s enough pulling power available, but the car defaults to Eco mode, meaning you won’t feel what it has to offer as it dulls the performance of the motor and CVT to a frustrating degree.

Put the car in Sport mode (my advice, leave it there!) and you will get a bit more enjoyment from the powertrain. The CVT doesn’t get as bogged down from a standstill, and it revs pretty freely with a good amount of push, too.


One more quirk for the drive experience is the shifter. It’s an electronic gear selector, but like most automatic cars it has a button on the side, where your thumb would naturally go to push the button to choose the gear you want.


However, in the Omoda 5, that button instead activates manual mode, meaning you will often find yourself in first gear (indicated on the dashboard as M1) with the engine revving incessantly. It took me four or five drives of this car to figure it out, and realise you just need to pull the gear lever down to get into D, or up into R.


Occupant comfort is okay, but not terrific. I’m 182cm tall, and anyone taller will be bumping their head on the ceiling, as the Omoda 5 has a really squashed-down roof line.


That goes for front and rear seats, and although I could sit behind my own driving position with just enough room to be comfortable, I wouldn’t want to be subjected to a really long trip back there.


If you have children there are ISOFIX points in the outboard seats and three top-tether points, and the littlies will appreciate the sunroof in the EX grade, too. Boot space is adequate, at 360 litres, meaning you can fit a pram and a bag or two alongside.


All told, the Chery Omoda 5 is a bit like one of those cheap Android mobiles you get if you can’t afford a Samsung or Google. It has all the tech, but there’s a fair bit of fine-tuning required.

Model release date: 20 March 2023

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