Plugged in to the future with a plus
In 2022, Chery Auto Philippines began their journey to electrification with the all-new Tiggo 8 Pro which made its grand debut at the 17th Manila International Auto Show.
On stage was a trio of Tiggo 8 Pro offerings, the flagship plug-in hybrid, a 2.0-liter all-wheel-drive version, and a 1.6-liter TGDI-powered version with an ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) suite. It begged the question: why was there no ADAS for the seemingly “modern” PHEV?
Come 2023, just less than a year after, they decided to quietly bring in an improved PHEV version called the Tiggo 8 Pro e+, fortified with ADAS and more smart features like better connectivity with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a power tailgate.
On the outside, everything pretty much stayed the same save for the addition of the ‘e+’ badge after the Tiggo 8 Pro at the back. This is only an improved version and not a minor or major model change, after all. It does have good proportions, is designed more on the conservative side, and has a classy but athletic silhouette. The chrome bling is a bit too much for my personal liking, but Chery’s customers may prefer such.
Chery seems to be very subtle about it being a hybrid as well with no other hybrid badges on the sides nor a different front logo badge like what other brands do.
On the inside, it gets a more modern feel with the dual 12.3-inch LED screens housed together to form the instrumentation and infotainment system. Another large screen welcomes you in the form of the climate control panel. The ergonomics of the driver console are very well thought out, a huge improvement over Chery vehicles of the past.
There is a lot of attention to detail in giving the interior feel premium with the quilted leather seats, soft-touch panels, piano black center stack, large panoramic sunroof, airy front, and second row with large glass panels.
The second-row seats are less bolstered than the front but are still comfortable. There is a drop-down center armrest with two cupholders here, two aircon vents, and a USB port. VIP passengers can increase legroom by sliding the seats backward or by moving the front passenger seat forward using electronic controls on the backrest.
The third row may really be only comfortable for kids and smaller adults. It has a couple of headrests, two shallow cupholders, and no air vents, so it could get warm here on a hot day. The third row is limited to smaller glass panels given the sporty design of the body; further amplified by the airy greenhouse in front.
Don’t let the rather small rear glass fool you, as it can store a good amount of cargo. With the third row folded down, you can fit about 39 inches long x 40 inches wide x 31 inches tall. With the second row folded down, the maximum length goes up to 70 inches. If you decide to use all three rows of seats, the maximum depth will be limited to 13 inches, though you can still use the width for longer items.
Powering the Tiggo 8 Pro e+ is a series/parallel hybrid system combining a 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline engine that makes 155 PS and 230 Nm of torque, and two permanent magnet synchronous motors (front and rear axles) that get power from a 19.27 kWh battery to generate 88 PS and 203 Nm of torque. The powertrain is mated to an in-house developed DHT or dedicated hybrid transmission. When the engine and electric motors work together, Chery says it gets a total of 320 PS and 510 Nm of torque.
The DHT has three gear ratios which intelligently work together with the engine and its dual motor setup with each powertrain able to function independently. While most hybrids have the engine come in at 60 km/h, Chery says theirs can intervene at a minimum of 20km/h, to help it adapt better to driving conditions. It also has 9 driving modes such as single/dual motor drive, range extension, parallel connection, and direct engine drive, resulting in 11 drive or speed combinations.
With the battery fully charged, you can drive up to 75 kilometers in full EV mode, meaning zero emissions and virtually noise-free driving without sipping any fuel at all. I was able to go from Makati to Quezon City, Quezon City to Entertainment City, and back to Quezon City with about 18 kilometers more range; that is without even trying to hyper mile it.
While nearly seamless, the engine intervention comes in with a bit of muted rumble as the hybrid system comes into play. A little more sound insulation in that department would be a welcome addition. Acceleration is good, power is readily available on tap to propel its heft. I was able to get a fuel mileage of around 15.6 km/liter for a week of mostly city driving.
The brakes do need a bit of getting used to. While it is different from many Chinese vehicles which tend to have a mushy brake feel, this one has a lot more bite. I would even argue that it can feel a little too excited at times.
In terms of handling, it maneuvers pretty well but don't expect sports SUV agility though. Steering is light and easy, which can make driving easy for older people or female drivers as well. Chery did their homework very well with the noise, vibration, and harshness suppression of the road, though (again) it could use some more in the engine bay. The ride comfort is very good and outside noise is well muted.
As mentioned earlier, this version comes with an Advanced Driver Assistance System for 2023. The ADAS suite includes Rear Cross Traffic Assist (RCTA), Blind Sport Detection (BSD), Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Door Opening Warning (DOW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Traffic Jam Alert (TJA), Integrated Cruise Assist (ICA), Intelligent High Beam Control (IHC), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), and Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR). The features do work, especially the ACC, but the LKAS function may need some fine-tuning to be smoother.
While it comes with nearly all the bells and whistles, the price tag may seem to be a bit of a reach at almost 2.7 million. It won't be for everyone, but if you do value safety, connectivity, and being legitimately number-coding exempt, the Tiggo 8 Pro e+ may be the right one for you.