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BAIC B40 ticks all the boxes

Albeit for a couple of days, it was worth a while, as I spend days and nights with BAIC (pronounced ‘bike’) 4×4.

Yes, Jeep Wrangler and others are going to feel the heat from this Chinese made.

According to BAIC SA, they have their roots in the military having been designed and assembled specifically for the Chinese army. Aha, hence the ruggedness and high seating that resulted in my ‘aunt’ not managing to climb onto it due to her weight and of course, laziness. Oops, I pray she does not read this paragraph.

It is packed with imposing bumpers and wheel arches. The front is striking, with the 5-slot grille.

The design features imposing headlights with Daytime Running Lights (DRL) as well as front and rear fog lamps, so are the vertical windshield design and large exterior mirrors.

The element of the removable roof that has individual panels over the driver and passenger and the remainder over the rear passengers that can each be removed singly or together, drew attention and applause from young, hip and happening ladies in Braamfontein, the epic center of education in Jozi.

So, you can imagine what happened, thereafter, just imagine?

The no-noise BAIC B40 Plus, is fitted with the NVH dampening that is provided by the Liquid Application Sound Deadening (LASD) technology, which increases the application area of the sound-dampening material in a vehicle by 50%. It is environmentally friendly and allows for weight reduction in the vehicle while resulting in increased noise reduction.

The interior is modern and sleek, from dual zone air-conditioning, six-speaker audio system, colour-coded interior trim, chrome accents and reclining rear seats. There are also features such as the reverse camera, Park Distance Control (PDC) and customisable Multi-Information Display (MID).

One could feel the front suspension is a double wishbone/coil spring independent suspension while the rear suspension is a 5-link/coil spring non-independent suspension.

The overhangs are minimal and combined with a ground clearance of 210 mm, it results in an approach angle of 37 degrees, departure angle of 31 degrees and rampover angle of 23 degrees.

The selectable 4WD system with mechanical central transfer case and rear differential lock allows driver control over how the engine is powered, dependent on the terrain, conditions and requirements, another factor that came into being as I took turns to my ‘in-laws’ for amalobolo not far from Balfour Park to Xavier to drop off my friend and colleague Mdu Mphahlele.

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to go off-road due to limited time with it.

 The B40 Plus comes standard with ABS, EBD and Electronic Parking Brake, while some models also feature Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Traction Control System (TCS), Hill Ascent Control (HAC) and Hill Descent Control (HAC).

It is available in 2.0-litre petrol turbo or 2.0-litre turbo diesel (I did the latter).

The petrol engine kicks out 160kW at 5500 r/min and 350Nm of torque between 1800 r/min and 2800 r/min.

Mr Hu, Vice President of Marketing Operations for BAIC South Africa says “BAIC SA is proud to add the B40 Plus to the model line-up. We believe this vehicle will be well received by the market and will find quite a following amongst consumers that want to stand out in a crowd.

“We are committed to the people of South Africa. We are actively working to improve the standard of the local automotive manufacturing industry, whilst creating more local employment opportunities. Our goal is to provide South Africans with a wide range of quality products to suit various lifestyles and requirements.”

BAIC has been in SA market since 2016 and has its own assembly plant in Coega, Eastern Cape where, currently it puts together SKD (semi knocked down) versions of the passenger cars it markets.

It is fully imported from China, but the plant is slowly ramping up its full production capacity of 50 000 vehicles coming next year when it will also start to supply both left and right drive-cars to the Sub-Saharan market.

The BAIC B40 Plus range retails from R549 500 up to R629 500 for the top-of-the-range offering.

All B40 Plus models are sold with a 5-year/120 000 km warranty and service plan options are available. Service intervals are 15 000 km/12 months for both the petrol and Diesel models.

The 4×4 market is going to be interesting as from now onwards! And yes, it does tick all the right boxes!

Verdict

Performance 1-10 (7)

Fuel 1-10 (5)

Image SLM (The Chinese army B40 Plus ticks all the right boxes).

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