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Date: 18 Apr 2017 Author Type: Press Release
Author: Julian Lurie Edited by Donovan Banks
Source: Julian Lurie Edited by Donovan Banks
At a glittering function at an upmarket venue in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, the Beijing Automotive Group Co., Ltd., (BAIC) from China launched a new addition to the growing ranks of motor vehicle manufacturers and distributors represented in South Africa by launching its first product range into the local market. The new product is the Baic D20 small car, which is offered in both hatchback and sedan derivatives.
At the launch, it was revealed that BAIC, together with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), is investing up to R11-billion in South Africa, including a full-scale vehicle manufacturing plant, which will be the first one in South Africa and the Africa Continent, in the past 40 years. The plant is situated in the Coega Industrial Development Zone in Port Elizabeth. The construction of the first stage of the manufacturing facility is currently underway and the production is scheduled to start in early 2018.
However, BAIC is not waiting for the local assembly in South Africa to start selling cars and is now beginning to roll out its model range, starting with the D20 small car, which is made in China. It is a competitively-priced entrant in the lower end of the local passenger car market, but its quality and standard equipment levels are considered a cut above many of its competitors.
BAIC also has a styling studio in Turin, Italy, while its international expansion programme has seen it set up production plants in 12 countries around the world already.
BAIC has a technology sharing agreement with Mercedes-Benz and the D20 hatch and sedan range being launched in South Africa is built on the basic platform developed by Mercedes-Benz for its Smart ForFour small car, so it uses modern technology. Overall styling of the hatchback is reminiscent of the first-generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class model. In addition, BAIC has bought the intellectual and technical rights of SAAB which has added to BAIC’s store of automotive technology.
The local D20 range consists of five hatchback models and one sedan. There is the choice of a 1.3-litre or 1.5-litre petrol engine and a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission in the hatchback derivative, while the sedan has the 1.5-litre engine and automatic transmission. Both the engines are of a new design and comply with Euro V emission regulations as well as being fuel efficient.
Features of the Comfort model extend to variable electric power steering, adjustable steering column, rear fog-lamps, auto-on headlamps, rain sensor that switches on the windscreen wiper (except 1.3-litre model), airbags for the driver and front passenger, electric windows, leather-trimmed steering wheel, reversing radar with audible and visual warning system, height adjustable headlights and automatic illumination of the luggage compartment.
The Fashion level includes standard equipment such as an electric sunroof, day-time running lights, alloy wheels, automatic folding exterior rear-view mirrors, audio system with 6.5-inch touch screen, GPS, USB, CD player, radio and six speakers with speed-sensitive sound level adjustment.
Both models offer comfortable seating for five occupants with plenty of space for luggage. The bold frontal appearance of the D20 is highlighted by the BAIC ‘family grille”, which features a flying wings design. Fashionable, slim headlight pods flank the grille.
The side view has strong feature lines and the Fashion models have attractive 10-spoke alloy wheels. The rear end styling of both models features bold, stylish taillight clusters and high-mounted stop lights.
The spacious interior has a modern, integrated appearance. The sports-style front bucket seats and bench rear seat are fabric-trimmed. The rear seat of the hatch is split 60:40 and the backrest can be folded forward to provide 1 190 litres of load space, while the sedan’s luggage boot capacity is 450 litres.
There are two circular instruments located in front of the driver, with read-outs for time, instantaneous fuel consumption, trip meter and odometer between these dials. The Fashion models also have a 6.5-inch touchscreen with a GPS navigation system and a comprehensive audio system with six speakers.
Power for the D20 comes from two new, four-cylinder petrol engines, one of 1 322cm3 capacity and other having a displacement of 1 499cm3. They produce 75kW and 85kW of power at 6 000 rpm respectively, while torque of 128 Nm and 148 Nm is available between 3 800-4 800 rpm.
Power goes to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox or four-speed automatic transmission, with the latter having three mode settings: Eco for saving fuel, Snow for a smooth pull-off on loose surfaces and Sport for a delayed shift when driving enthusiastically.
Suspension is by means of MacPherson struts in front and a torsion beam at the rear. Disc brakes are fitted to all four wheels with ABS and EBD (electronic brake distribution) using a Bosch system. Reversing radar with audible and visible warnings is standard on all models.
The Fashion models add key-operated remote central locking and immobilizer, climate control air-conditioning, electric sunroof, day-time running lights and heated fold-in external rear view mirrors.
Safety equipment for the new BAIC D20 includes the safety cell body design, airbags for the driver and front seat passenger, high-mounted stop lamps, rear foglamps, automatic fuel cut-off, height-adjustable headlights, child safety door locks, auto on headlights and two ISOFIX mountings in the rear seats for child seats and automatic rain sensor windscreen wipers standard on all models but the 1.3-litre model.
We never had the opportunity to drive the new BAIC but in a static display there were two Hatchbacks that we were able to examine closely and sit in it to test the comfort levels, interior space, try all the features, and look at and from what I saw it the all-round quality and finishes looked very good and the prices most competitive, and I certainly look forward to driving one in the near future when we can do a full road test.
The recommended retail prices are:
D20 Hatch 1.3M/T (Comfort) R149,990
D20 Hatch 1.5M/T (Comfort) R169,990
D20 Hatch 1.5M/T (Fashion) R179,990
D20 Hatch 1.5A/T (Fashion) R189,990
D20 Sedan 1.5A/T (Fashion) R 209,990
The D20 is covered by a 5-year/120 000km warranty with service intervals of 10 000km. There is a free service at 3 000km. Service and maintenance plans are an option from the dealers.
The BAIC D20 model range will be sold and served by a newly-established, national network of 21 dealers covering most of the key cities and towns in the country.
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