This is the home of automobile road tests in South Africa. We drive South African cars, SUVs and LCVs under South African conditions. It also just happens that most of the vehicles we drive are world cars as well, so what you read here probably applies to the models you can get at home.
*To read one of our road tests, just select from the menu on the left.
*Please remember too, that prices quoted were those ruling on the days I wrote the reports.
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"Looks very low," snorted the co-owner of the gym, "bet it's rubbish on dirt." She loves her little previous-generation Polo and in her eyes, nothing else comes close. I therefore bravely volunteered to include the rough provincial road I use in evaluating SUVs, in the GWM's review programme. The short report is that the boxy Coolbear has 18 mm more ground clearance than the little VW and it coped admirably.
Our very fit Polo driver is probably typical of most South Africans in not being completely ready to trust anything from the land of the Great Wall, especially as certain early efforts were less than exciting. This gave me a diabolical idea. Why not be different; start off thoroughly negative then see what is right about it? There is some logic at work here. Ninety percent of us expect the worst and would treat it roughly in order to "prove" the point, so why not be harsh from the outset and see how it shapes up? Here we go:
It's ugly. True, but it works.
The instruments, that is speedometer and rev counter combination, bar-graph fuel gauge and odometer, the sun visors and interior mirror are much further away than we are used to. True, it's a bit of a stretch to reach them, but the instruments are visible and how often do you fiddle with mirror and visors anyway?
The makeup mirrors on the visors are really far from users' faces. OK, you have a point there.
The seat back angle adjusters are hard to get at when the doors are closed. Didn't your mamma tell you never to fiddle with the seat while driving? OK, if you have thick arms and big hands, it could be problematic.
The steering wheel adjusts up and down only. I have found this on some very expensive cars recently, so what's your point?
The boot is small. It's actually about average for this size of vehicle and the rear seat backs tumble down to make a nice big load area.
Apart from ABS with EBD, no electronic safety devices. Some cars at this price level don't have these braking aids and most do without the fancy handling kit.
It seems a bit cheaply built - the doors close with a "thoonk", rather than "thuck" like a Mercedes. So, what do you expect for R129 265? Not a Mercedes, surely?
It's ugly. True, but cute-ugly.
On the debit side of the ledger, which is the "income" side, had you paid attention in bookkeeping class, we find the following:
Legroom and headroom. London taxis stop by to see what can be done. It's huge inside.
Mummy busses, especially, need lots of storage space. The CB150 has ten little boxes and flat areas in the front seat area alone, before we look at two cubbies with lids, door storage, or start commandeering cup holders.
The toy box contains power steering, power mirrors, power windows front and rear (driver's window features "auto down"), single channel air conditioning, radio and CD player with auxiliary input, remote central locking, rear park assist, reading lights in the back, 15" alloy wheels, radio controls on the steering wheel, front fog lamps and two airbags. Bigger wheels, leather upholstery, leather trimmed steering wheel, custom carpets and sporty exterior striping kits are available as options.
The driving experience was very acceptable. The 1497 cc, all-aluminium, DOHC, 16-valve four cylinder performs willingly, with the zero-to-100 dash dealt with in a shade over twelve seconds and going on to a maximum of 165 km/h. A little notchy but totally usable, the five-speed manual gearbox has well-spaced ratios. Cruising rpm is about 3600 in top. Although the car is fairly tall and springing is biased toward comfort, it hustled through bends rather well - not an Audi or BMW, you understand, but not bad either. A side benefit of the comfortable suspension was its grand performance on a washboarded and potholed dirt road. The car tracked well and was comfortable at all times. Steering was light and positive, making parking a breeze. Being a tall box with lots of windows, visibility outwards was excellent.
After being cynical and treating it roughly, what is the GWM CB150 really like? Ugly but cute, well equipped, comfortable, easy to park and drive, with enough room to lug the rowdiest of small families, it looks like a fine little people mover or small business machine. It might not be perfect, but what car is?
Price: R129 265
Engine: 1 497 cc DOHC 16 valve VVT, petrol, naturally aspirated
Power: 77 kW at 6 000 rpm
Torque: 138 Nm at 4 200 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 12,2 seconds
Maximum speed: 165 km/h
Average fuel consumption: about 7,6 l/100 km
Tank: 45 litres
Warranty: 3 years/100 000 km with 2 years' roadside assistance
This is a one-man show, which means that road test cars entrusted to me are driven only by me. Some reviewers hand test cars over to their partners to use as day-to-day transport and barely experience them for themselves.
What this means to you is that every car reviewed is given my own personal evaluation and receives my own seat of the pants judgement - no second hand input here.
Every car goes through real world testing; on city streets littered with potholes, speed bumps and rumble strips, on freeways and if its profile demands, dirt roads as well.
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa. This is the central hub of the KZN Midlands farming community; the place farmers go to to buy their supplies and equipment, truck their goods to market, send their kids to school and go to kick back and relax.
So occasionally a cow, a goat or a horse may add a little local colour by finding its way into the story or one of the pictures. It's all part of the ambience!
Want to ask a question, comment or just tell me you thoroughly disagree with what I say? That's your privilege, because if everybody agreed on everything, the world would be a boring place. All I ask is that you remain calm, so please blow off a little steam before venting too vigorously. Contact me here
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