By Dumi Xaba

A brief history of the BAIC motor group. The company was originally founded in 1958 in the Chinese capital Beijing as Beijing Automobile Works “Baw Motors”. In that era, most Chinese firms were producing Russian products under their own branding. Their most successful product was the soviet GAZ21 known in China as Dongfanghong BJ70. This company is owned by the Beijing Municipal government. It is currently sitting in fifth position in China as one of the most successful car manufacturers. I have been eagerly waiting for BAIC BJ80, and made contact with all known distributers of this brand across the country. Some distributers from Ekurhuleni invited me to sample the next best model I was looking for: the BAIC B40. From behind, it has that Jeep Wrangler look. The same kind of spare wheel and removable black roof. The same protruding Jeep wheel arches. Getting closer, you are greeted by the name BAIC B40 written in silver chrome and you’d think your eyes are playing tricks on you.

There is a famous isiXhosa phrase used by folks from the Eastern Cape that goes: “izinto zabelungu ziyafana” (loosely translated, it means, European mass-produced stuff looks alike). This model, indeed, has all the DNA of a Grand Cherokee. The boot space is enormous, even with all the seats up. Almost identical side steps, and the front the grill sways more toward the Wrangler. Opening the door, you feel that premium brand good quality. The handle and the door feel rugged and closes with that land cruiser solid thud. Ground clearance is superb. From miles away you can see that this is a bush Junky. Inside, you are greeted by the leather and chrome steering wheel, engraved with BJ40. I must admit, I was totally caught by surprise by the level of quality I found myself in.

Premium leather stitching in white. The cockpit and the infotainment will give you a feel that you are sitting in a million plus premium brand car. The round air vents are more like the BAIC brand insignia. Sitting position is good and there is enough cockpit space for someone who weighs a ton. The pedals are crafted in beautiful chrome. The visibility outside and around is great. Huge windows ensure you can easily crawl through any terrain without your vision obscured. The quality of the plastic used is good and the colour tones are not offensive, either. The model I had, came with keyless start. When you press that Start button the 10-inch infotainment and the digital cockpit comes alive. The model I had is a 2L automatic guise that churns 160 kw. Like in any 2L, don’t expect a growl, a gentle purr will do. I honestly thought the 2L petrol version was inadequate for this kind of application, but I was wrong. It’s quite eager and the box responds well. But it tends to be a gluttonous when the foot goes on the accelerator.
You get treated to luxury like leather seats, climate control, keyless start, 17-inch chrome wheels, reverse camera, central lock, multi-function steering wheel, traction control, cruise control, fog lights, Bluetooth, xenon lights and electric windows and mirrors.
Specs for the BAIC 2.0T
City Hunter:
Fuel Type: Turbo Petrol
Cylinder layout
and quantity: i4
Tank Capacity: 75
Power: 160KW
Torque: 320Nm
CO2 Emission: 250g/km
All this luxury will cost you around R580,000

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