Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chana - Benni

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER new Chinese automaker in town. Not many outside China would have heard of Chongqing-based Chana Auto but the company’s resume is impressive – it started manufacturing vehicles way back in 1957 (Geely only began in 1998 and Chery, 1999), and has current joint ventures with Ford and Suzuki.

Chana’s debut model in Singapore is the Benni, a compact five-door hatchback. If you can’t get past the odd-sounding name, just remember it’s called the Ben Ben in China…

It breaks no new ground in styling, but neither does it try too hard to be distinctive and end up looking laughably weird like some other Chinese cars.

There’s clean, smooth styling lines that will probably keep the Benni looking fresh for some time to come, with the detailing around the bonnet, headlamps and front bumper being particularly neat. It certainly doesn’t come across as a sub-$40K car at first glance.

But the standard wheels look a little undersized, especially since the car is taller than average and sits quite high off the road. Bizarrely, Chana not only lists ground clearance figures in the brochure but also the approach and departure angles. They must have some monster road humps in Chongqing.

As of now you can have any powertrain configuration you like, as long as it’s a 1,301cc engine with a five-speed manual gearbox. An automatic version arrives later this year.

The engine has impressive on-paper specs: all-alloy construction, twin camshafts, 16 valves and a 84bhp power output. But does all this translate to a good drive?


James Teo said...

The dynamo just died on the night of 3rd February 2012 after about 38,000 km. Many trouble fan belt broke 5th time. Battery replaced twice. Lucky thing kept as spare in car so can still drive after replacing the exhausted battery. learn my lesson made in PRC: Cheap no good.

Anonymous said...

that's because you didn't maintain your car well enough.