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Shooting the breeze in the Landwind 5

15.04.2016

I usually try my best to avoid driving anything Chinese, and it’s not because I’m better than that, it’s because I feel, as motoring writers, we come across as overly harsh on manufacturers that are new to the market.

I tend to agree with the sentiment that we should be critical though, after all, the advice I give could very well lead to one of my valued readers purchasing the vehicle that I am writing about. So when I was given the Landwind 5 SUV from Jiangling Motor Company (JMC) I had to approach the car critically.

Exterior

I was at the media launch of this vehicle last year and on paper and even in the metal it actually seems very nice. The exterior is reminiscent of a combination of several modern SUV designs, which isn’t a bad thing. I see hints of Hyundai, Toyota and Honda in its facade, which is perhaps better than a blatant copy seen by many Chinese manufacturers.

Interior

The interior is where things start coming undone a bit. The quality of some of the plastics isn’t up to scratch. My test unit had around 20 000km on the clock, meaning that it had been around the block. There were signs of this with sun-fade marks on the centre console. The layout of the interior is better, without any major surprises. There is a very strange lump at the end of both front seats though; I suspect it’s there to prevent sliding however, it comes across as slightly uncomfortable.

Techinical

At the technical presentation of the vehicle I was stunned to hear about some of the outsourcing that JMC did for this model. There’s a Mitsubishi4G63T petrol motor, that’s right, a de-tuned version of the Evo motor, with a turbocharger from Borg Warner, gearbox by Getrag, suspension tuning by Prodrive and electronics by Delphi. In this regard, the vehicle is likely to be reliable, with spares for the drivetrain at least, being easily available.

Motor

The motor produces a respectable 140kW/250Nm, which is a lot of power per Rand in this segment, considering its price tag of R289 880. Unfortunately the delivery of this power is quite delayed, with lag until around 4 000rpm and then a heave accompanied by an audible wail from the exhaust. I managed to achieve around 10.0 litres/100km when driving frugally in the vehicle.

Space

The one area where I saw the Landwind excel was in passenger space. The rear section is very large, even a full-size adult would find it capacious. The boot is also large at 855 litres, making this a good vehicle for carrying baggage when going on long-distance trips.

Drive quality

The overall drive quality is not quite up to the standard set by the Japanese, French, American and Korean manufacturers that dominate the segment though, there is a quite a bit of road and engine noise. I also feel that for the current price, the vehicle in under-specified. If JMC had to throw in items such as multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth and USB then I feel the lower price that it presents versus its more established rivals might lure buyers in.

Verdict

That being said, I’d probably own this 5 SUV before a GWM H5. Nonetheless, the Mahindra XUV500 has come back strong after its mid-life refresh and offers superior practicality with its seven seats, a bigger dealer network and is increasingly popular.

The Landwind 5 comes with a two-year/60 000km service plan and a three-year/100 000km warranty.

Article written by Sean Nurse
15.04.2016
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