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Driven: Geely LC Cross 1.3 GT

Date: 09 Oct 2012 Author Type: Amateur Journalist
Author: Nic Ngobese edited by Gary Mackay
Source: Autoworld.co.za

Let’s say you happen to be Geely, a Chinese manufacturer looking to establish your brand in South Africa’s entry-level car market. A market historically dominated by the VW Citi Golf and Toyota Conquest (Tazz).  

Let’s look specifically at the Geely LC CROSS 1.3 GT we had on test. At first glance we were not sure what to make of the yellow (affectionately dubbed Banana by the staff here at the office) Geely LC CROSS 1.3 GT – badged LCCROSS 1.3 GT – in our car park. The group, which had gathered around the car, could not reach consensus on whether it’s trying to be a “micro SUV” or if the designer didn’t quite understand what the car was meant to be. This was the first time I’d heard the term Micro SUV, but with the slightly raised stance given by the standard 14inch alloys, the pre-runner-like plastic cladding below the front bumper and the spare wheel that sits boldly on the tailgate; it is easy to understand how the term came to be. The cute and compact LCCROSS is not a bad looking car. It has one of those “love it or hate it” aspects. Personally, I find the panda-face created by the bold headlight cluster and wide grille endearing, in spite of the rest of the car trying to appear like a rugged off-roader. The faux toughness exuded by the LCCROSS is cheeky indeed.

Inside you find an interior of hard plastics moulded into a good bit of form and style. The circular centre console houses a CD, MP3 radio with a USB slot although it must be said that you may find it difficult play your favourite jams on your USB stick because the design of the USB slot does not allow for memory sticks with a wider girth. Air-con, electric front, back windows and adjustable steering wheel all come as standard. The sliding cubby-hole cover is another interesting touch of design on the LCCROSS. It’s only real flaw being the lack of a locking mechanism, which would have made it safe for leaving valuables while in public parking areas. On the road safety side, ABS and EBD will help you keep things under control and up to 6 airbags (in the range topping GT model) will ensure you won’t get too knocked about, should things go completely wrong.

Rear legroom leaves a bit to be desired. With our lead journalist sitting in his driving position, my knees were pushed up against the back of the driver’s seat on more than one occasion. My head hit the roof every time we went over bumps, which exacerbated my discomfort in the rear seat. There simply isn’t enough headroom. The boot was a pleasant surprise. With the spare wheel securely bolted to the rear door, Geely was able to extract a fair bit of space for you to place your groceries. This space increases significantly when you fold the rear seat over; giving you plenty space to take larger items.

The 63kW pushed out by the fuel-injected 1.3 litre twin-cam engine will have you working the clutch and five speed gearbox every time an incline approaches. It is an excitable little engine that is eager to climb to its 6000 Rpm limit, which is good as you need all the momentum you can get to comfortably climb the next hill. It’s easy to manoeuver and can manage early morning traffic well, although it doesn’t give one the confidence to drive it too briskly. The ride is fairly comfortable, but I would be hard-pressed to use this car for long distances. The underpowered 1.3 simply lacks the oomph to make such a trip any kind of fun.

There is a fair bit the LCX could do better. Then again, with the entry level LCCROSS GS priced at R91 900, the top of the range LCCROSS GT sitting just under R105 000, and loaded with more standard features than the competing models from more established brands, Geely might actually be on to something.

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