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Chery-owned brand heads for the UK with a competitively priced Kona rival

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Yup, that’s right: it’s another Chinese brand that’s on the cusp of launching its offensive on UK shores.

Hold the eye-roll for just a moment, though, because Omoda could well be of genuine interest, not least as it’s offering very competitively priced petrol cars as well as electric ones. Case in point: the Omoda 5 family SUV that you’re looking at here has a 1.6-litre petrol engine beneath its bonnet.

Anyway, to go back to the start, Omoda is a new brand created by Chinese giant Chery for European domination. It has existed since 2022 and deliveries of the petrol 5 and electric Omoda E5 will start this summer from 64 UK dealers, including major franchises such as Peter Vardy and Listers.

The 5 is the brand’s core family SUV model, coming in at a similar sort of price to the Nissan Juke and Ford Puma, even though its 4.42m length puts in more in league with the Nissan Qashqai and Ford Kuga.

Styling-wise, the 5 is inoffensive and almost remarkable in its genericness. Pick a modern, swoopy SUV and there seems to be a cue somewhere on the 5 that likens to it. Toyota chiefs in particular may be raising some eyebrows.



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Inside, there’s the obligatory big touchscreen, in landscape format and perched atop the dashboard. The Android-based system is far from the best. You can get to the main functions (which include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) easily from the home screen, but there’s no ‘back’ button, the graphics are a little grainy and it all feels a bit aftermarket. That said, there are software updates due and that may yet change the system’s layout, so we will have to wait before passing final judgement.

Otherwise, my test car was in the higher of the two specs. Even the basic Comfort gets heated and electrically adjusted seats, part-leatherette and – get this – a cooled wireless smartphone charging pad, to keep your phone from overheating. The upper Noble trim adds a sunroof, a 360deg parking camera and comically unnecessary red brake calipers.

The sun-visor mirrors have dimmable, bright white or warm white surround lighting. Very flattering for those in-car zoom calls, Instagram videos and makeup applications.

Space in the back seats is pretty decent, certainly better than in the Juke, but foot space beneath the front seats is poor and any passengers more than 6ft tall may find the ceiling a little close for comfort.

More disappointing is the boot, which comes in at a paltry 307 litres. That’s 150-odd litres less than in the smaller Puma, which seems a vast disparity. But I reckon Omoda hasn’t factored in underfloor storage, because the boot doesn’t look that bad to me. It’s a bit shallow and certainly not as big as the Qashqai’s, but you will get your big shop in there, no worries. And you get a space-saver spare wheel too, which is nice.


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As for how the 5 drives, it’s rather underwhelming, to be honest. The 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine is Chery’s own and it drives the front wheels through a Getrag-developed seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. (There’s no manual on offer.)

It’s reasonably quiet when you’re pottering about, but it moos harshly when you accelerate and – while it’s fast enough, for sure – the gearbox has a mind of its own. It never seems to be happy with whatever ratio it’s chosen and is always only a moment away from shifting again. Unless you’re up in seventh and settled on the motorway, you’re always conscious of it slurring in the background.

The handling is all right. The very light steering can be weighted up slightly, independently or by Sport driving mode, and it’s predictable enough, if short on feedback.

You do get a sense of connection to the road through the rather lively low-speed ride comfort, which picks up coarse surfaces very noticeably, although the soft, springy suspension does soak up awkward cambers and bigger bumps.


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The problem is that while Omoda will point to the 5’s generous equipment, gloss trim, jazzy ambient lighting, punchier performance and bigger body as no-brainer deciding factors, those benefits don’t really play out in practice when stacked up against the best of the almost-compact-almost-SUV brigade.

Sure, the 5 may be 4.4m long rather than 4.2m, but the Puma is nearly as useful for back-seat space, has a bigger boot, is much more efficient and is both more fun to drive and more comfortable. Who really cares if it’s a bit slower?

When list prices and finance costs are confirmed, the 5 may yet have a trump card – and with a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty and a mild-hybrid petrol engine on the way at the end of the year, Omoda may yet make a noticeable impact in the family crossover class.

On this evidence, however, I would say that there’s real promise here but also a lot more work to do.