We can already tell by that disappointed look you're giving us right before we even start: Why review a Chery?
The short answer is: many have asked for it. Chery is offering some very attractively priced models in the market with a promising proposition... at face value, that is. We already got to drive the Tiggo 5x a few months ago which impressed us with its wide array of technologies and features. However, its powertrain was a left us unimpressed, particularly how it delivered power.
But that was the 5x. It's time to try out the Tiggo 2 now. Serving as Chery's entry-level nameplate, it's smaller and a lot more affordable. We're still rather skeptical about it though, as a lower price would typically mean a less refined driving and riding experience. There's no doubt about its equipment list, but you can't call a car good with its standard features alone; it has to be the complete package.
The exterior does put on a good first impression though. The bold projector headlights, the black mesh front grille, the chrome trim pieces, as well as the faux skid plates give the crossover rugged and dashing looks. It even has functional roof rails.
I particularly liked the look of its alloy wheels. They may be only 16-inches in diameter, but the Y-shaped, diamond-cut wheels give the Tiggo 2 a sporty look. Then there's the body cladding on the wheel arches which might appear out of place for some. However, I do like them as it gives more character to the Tiggo 2.
Over at the rear, however, Chery could have given it a little bit more flair. Sure it gets a chrome strip that runs the entire width of the tailgate, rear foglights, along with some angular taillights to boot. But other than that, the rear is devoid of any distinguishable features. At least they didn't "take inspiration" from another automaker's design.
All in all, the Tiggo 2 looks the part of a crossover. The angular shape, 186mm of ground clearance, and short overhangs give the crossover a very discerning appearance.
Inside, the Tiggo 2 invites you into a blacked-out interior. The cabin itself is modest and straightforward. A thick leather-wrapped steering wheel greets the driver along with orange contrast-stitches on the seats that give the crossover a youthful vibe. Faux metal accents, along with the distinct carbon fiber-like dashboard panel accents provide the Tiggo 2 a "sportier" vibe.
But what grabbed my attention was its unique instrument panel. It may be analog, but its design is something you'll normally see on upmarket European cars (i.e. Peugeot). It also comes with a multi-info display that can show average/real-time fuel consumption, trip meter, clock, and current gear display.
The Tiggo 2 may be the smallest (and most affordable of the Tiggo bunch) but Chery made sure it still came with plenty of toys and amenities. It has an 8-inch touchscreen media display with Bluetooth, USB, and phone mirroring, leather upholstery, reverse parking sensors with a reverse camera, remote tailgate, and even cruise control. Not bad for a crossover that costs less than PhP 800,000.
If you need to haul, it has 420 liters of usable cargo space, which is decent for its subcompact dimensions. I reckon it can fit two large suitcases, several duffel bags, and still have enough space for some pasalubong. The rear seats can be folded to extend the Tiggo 2's cargo space. Unfortunately, the seats don't exactly fold flat, so one will need to get creative in loading longer items at the back.
But it's not all rosy inside the Tiggo 2. The quality of plastic used and the placement of some of the cabin controls. Don't get me wrong, the cabin is nice to look at, but Chery could have used better quality materials for the dashboard, center console, as well as the door trim. But then again, this is a budget crossover.
Ergonomics were also a mixed bag. The controls for the air-conditioning, as well as the hazard lights, which are placed a bit too low on the center dashboard. The panel for adjusting the power mirrors, as well as the button for Eco/Sport modes, appear to have been an afterthought. Lastly, I was surprised to see that this particular model lacked automatic climate control which was odd. In the brochure, it is supposed to come with that feature.
Pop the hood, and out comes a 1.5-liter, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine. It makes a humble 106 PS at 6000 rpm and has a peak torque of 135 Nm that is readily available at 2750 rpm. As this is the top-of-the-line model, a four-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels.
With a twist of the key, the 1.5-liter engine grumbles into life. No that is not a typo; that is exactly how the engine starts every time. We're not exactly sure as to why the engine does that, but we're betting it has something to do with its Noise, Vibration, and Harshness lessening (NVH) which I'll get to later.
Driving around town, the Tiggo 2 has smooth power delivery and is relatively hushed. But when the need to overtake another car arises, the engine and transmission appear to make more noise rather than progress. Then there's the matter of the automatic transmission itself not being able to change gears quickly. And, when you have to climb steep inclines, you will have to mash the throttle to get every ounce of power out of the 1.5-liter engine.
So the engine is not that impressive, but with torque being easily available at less than 3,000 rpm, it was still able to deliver decent (but not outstanding) fuel economy. The Tiggo 2 can average around 8.0 – 8.5 km/l in light city traffic. Not bad, but we've had cars with bigger engines drink less fuel. In heavier traffic conditions, that number can go down to as much as 7.0 – 7.5 km/l, which is something you'd expect in a 2.0-liter, not a 1.5-liter. It does redeem itself on the highway. The Tiggo 2 managed 14.5 – 15.0 km/l.
I do have to say that the Tiggo 2 has a commanding driving position for such a small crossover. Combined with the vehicle's huge front and side windows, it's easy to see out of the Tiggo 2. Handling on the Tiggo 2 was alright if a bit dull and the steering is devoid of feel and feedback. Then again, it wasn't meant to offer a sporty driving experience.
However, the brakes do feel a little spongy at times, which could rattle some drivers. I sometimes had to stand on the brake pedal when slowing down at highway speeds or going down steep roads. As for its ride quality, it's not that bad, but it's not that good either.
As I mentioned, the thing that Chery could work on Tiggo 2 is NVH. Outside noise easily seeps into the cabin, while noise from the engine itself can be easily heard whether you're in the city or on the highway. Also, there is a noticeable vibration on the steering wheel and the gear selector even while the car is stationary. The noisy engine always made its presence known which isn't exactly always a good thing. We get it that the Tiggo 2 was built to meet a certain price point, but better refinement would make for a better overall vehicle.
With a price tag of PhP 770,000, this top-of-the-line Tiggo2 comes with plenty of standard toys which is impressive. At its current price point, it puts similarly-priced budget sedans to shame. That's because Chery was able to take advantage of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA). So as long as the engine is at 1.5-liters or smaller, they can pack the cars with a lot of the features they have in their menu but still be able to sell it at competitive prices.
Letting the Tiggo2 down, however, is its powertrain, and fairly lackluster NVH. It may be relatively fuel-efficient, but we feel the NVH affected its overall value and performance. Yes, it's a high-riding crossover selling for PhP 770,000, or about similar to a low to mid-grade Vios. Yes, it comes with a substantial amount of convenience features and packed to the brim with safety features (dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and hill-start assist), but its low price meant we had to lower our expectation for the Tiggo 2 in terms of overall quality.
Does this mean the Tiggo 2 is a bad crossover? Not necessarily, depending on your point of view. If you're looking to upgrade from a hand-me-down, or are planning to replace your old jalopy for a brand new automobile, the affordable Tiggo 2 does make a good case for itself. Where it becomes interesting is in the ownership experience: the new Chery distributor (the same company behind Foton) is offering all Tiggo models with an extra-long warranty, a ridiculously high mileage engine warranty, as well as 3 years of free PMS, meaning you won't have to pay for parts and labor when you take your Tiggo in for servicing.
Can those advantages cancel out the shortcomings? Possibly. We'll know when we start seeing more and more new-generation Chery models on the road.