Chery pickings

Story by William Whey Photos by Raymond Lai and William Whey
15 Mar 2010

This J3 is far from polished when compared to its namesake (previously A3) from Ingolstadt but we'd have to give it credit for one of the best efforts yet from a Chinese manufacturer.

Sweet Cherys

The J3's styling is rather original in design and I can safely say that it is the best looking Chinese model out there today, a bit like the Zhang Ziyi of Chinese cars so to speak.

Chinese cars have not taken off in a big way since Chery introduced the QQ a little over three years ago. Car buyers have generally given Chinese models a miss due to a variety of reasons - outdated design and technology in the cars as well as their poor safety record.

Despite the inferiority that Chinese cars have in some areas over the Korean and Japanese models, it would be stupid to discount them. After all, the Koreans took quite some time before they firmly establish themselves as major players in the Singapore market next to the Japanese. Give the Chinese brands time and they could well reach the standards of Hyundai and Kia in a shorter time than the Koreans could.

The advancements the Chinese car have made since the QQ was first sold here back in 2006 are evident in Chery's newest model, the J3 (previously A3). Before you ask, "Doesn't Audi have an A3?", yes, the new Chery shares its moniker with the prestige hatch from Ingolstadt and I wonder how long it'll be before the legal department at the Four Rings will send out a letter to Chery insisting that they have to stop using the combination of the letter ‘A' followed by a number for their models.

The name issue aside, the Chinese J3, in 5-door S-coupe guise is actually a smartly styled hatchback. Forget about the Seat Toledo based A168 and the Chevrolet Matiz like QQ, the J3 is rather original in design and I can safely say that it is the best looking Chinese model out there today, a bit like the Zhang Ziyi of Chinese cars so to speak.

The J3's nose is a tad nondescript looking but at least it doesn't look like a photocopy of any contemporary model out there. It is at the rear where the J3 gets really interesting. The rising beltline on the flanks culminates to hidden rear door handles (Alfa 156 style) and graceful, sloping C-pillars. Styled by Italian design consultants Pininfarina, the J3's rear is hugely distinctive and attractive. - the rounded rump features a sloping rear hatch that is complimented by a pair of pretty tail lamps.

Chery also offers a four-door saloon model of the J3 but the five-door S-coupe model here by far looks the prettier and the more distinctive. In fact, the J3 hatchback looks so distinctive that it attracts other road users more than some of the exotica that oneshift recently tested during our test drive - there was even one driver who showed so much interest in it that he came next to us, wound down his window to ask us about its price!

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