Chinese automaker Geely is raring to make its comeback to the Philippine market and, interestingly enough, they'll be doing it with a Japanese-backed company: Sojitz G Auto Philippines.
Their first salvo will be this: the 2020 Geely Coolray Sport, a compact crossover SUV aimed at segment stalwarts such as the Ford EcoSport, Honda HR-V, and Hyundai Kona. They will also be contending with the upcoming Kia Seltos, as well.
For the unengaged, Sojitz is a Japanese conglomerate which was the former trading company partner in Mitsubishi Motors Philippines and presently distributes Fuso trucks in the country.
The Coolray otherwise known as the 'BinYue' for the Chinese market, made its global debut in late 2018. It is part of Geely’s new global lineup which is highlighted by its "expanding cosmos" grill, a feature present in every modern Geely vehicle offered 2012 and beyond.
The Coolray measures 4,330 mm long, 1,800 mm wide, 1,609 mm tall, with a 2,600 mm wheelbase and is built on Geely’s BMA platform which, according to the automaker, optimizes interior space. Evidence of such is a wheelbase utilization rate of 68.7% for its cabin.
The Coolray's exterior design was penned by British designer Jamie Barrett, who also led the design team for the entire vehicle, presumably for consistency. Chinese designers Cong Mei Song and Gu Mian, were responsible for the interior and color fabric, respectively. Cong is said to have extensively drawn inspiration from 'Star Wars' and jet fighters for the cockpit of the Coolray.
Illumination will be provided by full LED projector headlamps which are accented by LED daytime running lights which are actually incorporated into the fascia design which expand the cosmos grille as dazzling stars.
The interior is very futuristic and fun with premium touch materials and colors with some elements like the speaker grills and central air vents paying tribute to classic Chinese lattice design. The instrumentation is a fully-digital 7-inch LCD unit which gives a different display depending on the driving mode (eco, normal, or sport). A central-mounted floating 10.25-inch HD touchscreen gives more access for infotainment and connectivity. Controls are ergonomically placed with everything well within reach. The electronic shifter allows for a two-level center stack for extra cubby holes for mobile devices which should pretty much discourage you from driving distracted. PH-bound versions will also be equipped with a panoramic sunroof.
The Coolray also boasts of a lot of tech which includes: Intelligent Cruise Control, Automated Park Assist (both perpendicular and parallel), a 360-degree view camera. Safety equipment includes electronic stability control, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, blind spot detection, tire temperature and pressure monitoring, and more.
Under the hood is a 1.5-liter turbo 4-cylinder rated at 174 PS and 255 Nm co-developed with Volvo. The engine is mated to a Geely-built 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission which they claim can outlast units made by German competitors. The combination felt smooth and punchy during our brief test on a tight course where the Coolray was pitted against the EcoSport, HR-V, Kona, and surprisingly, a BMW X1!
The Coolray rides on MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam rear suspension, combined with an electronic power steering system gave a rather pleasant driving experience during our very short drive. We'll give you more updates once we get to drive one on actual Philippine roads.
Based on what we've seen and experienced, the 2020 Geely Coolray will definitely give the very competitive segment a shakedown once it's officially offered in the market.