This segment is populated by some very big names, which include Jetta, Cerato, Elantra, Cruze and not forgetting, Corolla. GWM mean business it they enters a car into this segment; the C50 that I drove proves it.
I’ve had the opportunity to drive several of the Chinese automaker’s products of late and the C50 is certainly - in my opinion - the best of its cars. It ushers in the company’s downsizing programme with the use of a 1.5-litre turbopetrol engine. While I wasn’t a fan of this engine in the H6 SUV it must be said, it works far better in this package with the 93kW/188Nm unit, proving ample during my time with the vehicle.
There’s even a satisfying turbo whoosh that emanates from the engine bay; not something buyers in this segment really expect but it’s still surprisingly satisfying. In terms of fuel consumption, I managed a figure of just over 8.0 litres/100km which is close to the claimed figure of 7.4 litres/100km. This is largely due to this powertrain and model combination allowing for far less turbo lag, meaning I could change up earlier in the rev range than I could have done in previous GWM products.
The performance and handling are not the most coveted aspects of vehicles within the segment but this vehicle is not bad in a straight line while the handling is more safe than sporty. On the open road is where the C50 is really solid; the package is certainly refined in most situations.
Inside, the C50 features the best cabin from within its stable. The materials used look and feel of a decent quality while the layout makes all the features easy to access and use. The infotainmnet set-up includes a radio/CD/MP3 system with auxiliary and USB compatibility.
There are the (now obligatory) standard features such as dual front airbags, disc brakes all around, ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BAS), air-conditioning, power steering, electric windows all around and electric mirror adjustment. The top-of-the-range Elite model that I drove also featured cruise control, multi-function steering wheel and rear park distance control.
From the outside, the C50 features a modern design aesthetic that suits the segment in which it competes. Driving it around, a few people asked me what it was and commented that it looked good, which is a sentiment I agree with. In terms of everyday usability, the C50 is practical enough with sufficient front and rear legroom for extended journeys, while the 530-litre boot is up there with its rivals.
The C50 is a good car and I grew more fond of it, the more I drove. My gripe with the car is the pricing. The Elite model I tested is R249 999 which is the same as a well specified Corolla with a diesel motor or even a 1.4-litre Turbo Chevrolet Cruze. Those are two very established competitors that I prefer. I believe that if GWM wants to build a customer base, it needs to offer its cars at a lower price.
All C50 models come with a five-year/100 000km warranty and a five-year/60 000km service plan.