“This is a Chery?”
That was the first impression I had of the Chery Tiggo8. See, when someone mentions that brand to me, the first thing that pops up in my head is the tiny QQ hatchback. Chery does not have the most stellar of reputations here either, so the Tiggo8 was a bit of a shock.
How can a company that churned out cheap, small hatchbacks come up with a relatively large, rather handsome-looking crossover?
Chery's styling has stepped up a lot since the mid-2000s, and it shows with the Tiggo8. It looks bold and not entirely derivative of present designs. That grille demands your attention, and the bulges on the hood give the impression of power under the hood. There isn't much in the way of jagged lines on the body. It's all about soft curves and smooth lines for the Tiggo8.
That theme carries over to the sides of this crossover. The fenders, doors, and panels have gentle curves and have little defined lines. It gives the Tiggo8 the impressions of being large, and it is. It measures over 4.7 meters long, so it's bigger than the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4.
As for the rear, it seems that Chinese automakers like leaving the tailgate blank with the license plate moved to the bottom of the bumper. That said, the back isn't bland with a strip of light running across the tailgate. You have to give Chery credit for putting in effort in the design of the Tiggo8.
It has neat exterior details too. The wheels are painted in black, which complements the gloss black grille, and chrome is tastefully applied rather than tacked on. It also has a massive panoramic glass roof to let more light inside.
That brings us neatly to the interior, and it's quite a shock. If you're expecting hard plastic strewn all over the place, you will be pleasantly surprised by the Tiggo8. The entire dash has soft padding and high-quality materials. Even the door panels wouldn't look out of place in more expensive cars. Even the design is impressive, which echoes some modern luxury vehicles.
Chery also put in a lot of digital displays and controls in the Tiggo8. The automatic climate control uses a touch panel, which reminded me of the Land Rover Discovery Sport I reviewed a few months ago. Its touchscreen is also worth a mention. Not only does it have a widescreen, but it also has crisp and clear graphics to go along with it. The system is easy to use too, and the response times are quick. Another digital display in the Tiggo8 is its instrument cluster, which seems to be a trend these days.
The Tiggo8 isn't short on toys either. There's a smartwatch that allows you to lock, or unlock the car, open the tailgate, and even start it. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and the infotainment screen personalization settings too. With it, you can change various vehicle preferences from there as well. From the ambient lighting to steering wheel feedback, these are adjustable by accessing the sub-menus in the car. Then there's the 360-degree-view camera. Yes, this crossover comes standard with it, which is a pretty neat touch. You can even select which view you want. Front, side, or rear, the Tiggo8 can show that for you.
But enough about the gadgets, is the Tiggo8 practical? It's a long vehicle, so you expect a lot of space inside. Thankfully, it meets that expectation because this car isn't short on room. Knee, leg, hip, and headroom are in abundance in the first and second-row seats, and that's despite the panoramic sunroof above. Even third-row accommodations aren't that bad. Sure, you won't be cramming six-footers over there, but it will be okay for anyone under 5'8”. Foot room in the third-row could be better, though.
As for cargo space, it's expansive, but not if you have all the seats up. Behind the third row, you'll struggle to fit an overnight bag, but the Tiggo8 shows its practical side when you flip those seats down. With the third-row stowed, you get nearly 900 liters of space and, if you fold down the second-row, that jumps to a massive 1,900 liters. You'll be able to haul a lot in the Tiggo8, provided you won't be having six more passengers on board with you.
Now, for the engine, and Chery has taken the downsized turbo engine route for the Tiggo8. This crossover uses a 1.5-liter turbo with 145 PS and 210 Nm of torque. The gearbox is a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Honestly, I expected more out of it, given that there are 1.5-liter turbo engines out there with more power. Also, the Tiggo8 is a relatively big vehicle, so I was skeptical if 145 PS was enough to pull its weight.
The power figures aside, the Tiggo8 has a lot of showroom appeal, but what is it like to drive? If it's excitement behind the wheel you're after, you're looking at the wrong vehicle class. The Tiggo8 feels, well, ordinary. It won't be a life-changing driving experience, but it handles well enough to feel stable and planted on the road. The steering is light, so it makes maneuvering easy, and controls are effortless to make the driving experience as hassle-free as possible.
Push a little bit harder in the corners, and it will deal with it without much fuss. It's not exciting to drive, but that's not the point of this car. It aims to deliver a smooth, effortless, and relaxing driving experience.
It does do that, for the most part. However, there are a few things Chery can change to make it soothing to drive and ride. They can make the suspension just a tad bit softer. I'm not saying that it's bouncy and uncomfortable inside, but the ride is on the firm side. You'll feel the bumps, but it won't send a shock up your spine. That said, if Chery wants to make it a more comfortable crossover, they can dial down the stiffness. The transmission could get a little bit jerky in traffic, but at least it's a lot smoother once you're on the move.
Sound isolation could be a little bit better, as a fair bit of engine noise creeps inside. Then, there's the steering, which is too eager to react to the smallest input. Sharp steering is a good thing in sports cars, but not so much for high-riding crossovers. I found myself darting all over the highway with the Tiggo8. Also, the fuel economy wasn't exactly great. In extremely heavy traffic, I saw figures drop down to 6 kilometers per liter. Thankfully, fuel consumption was a lot better on the highway with the on-board computer showing 14 kilometers per liter.
That's not to say there's not much going for in Chery's biggest crossover. The seat bottoms are nice and supple, which does a great job absorbing what the suspension can't. Its light steering makes easy work of tight parking maneuvers, and the turning radius is decent for a long vehicle. Also, the 360-degree camera comes in handy when you're driving along narrow roads, or when someone's trying to sneak in your lane.
But one thing that surprised me about the Tiggo8 is its performance. Despite the conservative power output, it didn't feel like it only had 145 PS. If anything, it felt like it had more. Perhaps it's helped by the turbo, but it pulls more than the spec sheet numbers suggest. Passing proved effortless out on the highway, and it gets to cruising speeds with ease. Granted, it's not the fastest crossover out there, but the way it delivers power is impressive. The engine works well with the transmission, even if it doesn't like creeping forward in traffic.
All in all, the Tiggo8 needs a little bit more polish to make it a great product. If Chery can make it more comfortable and refined, it might even give the South Korean, or even Japanese competition a bit of a scare.
At Php 1,340,000, it does offer a lot for the money. It's bigger than most, if not, all, crossovers at that price point, and it packs a lot of standard equipment too. It's loaded with technologies once exclusive to ultra-luxury vehicles too, which drives up its value proposition.
There is one hurdle that Chery has to overcome, though: the stigma. Sure the brand has come a long way, but for some, it will be difficult to erase the memories of the QQ. The Tiggo8 is nothing like old Chery, and that's a good thing for the brand and consumers. If you're willing to look past all of that, perhaps the Tiggo8 deserves a visit to the showroom.