We headed to Subic Bay to try out the 2022 Chery Tiggo 8 Pro, which recently made its Philippine debut at the Manila International Auto Show. Completely fresh inside and out, the 7-seat crossover SUV aims to go against midsize stalwarts with its premium features and strong local brand support.

Chery has been steadily growing since its return to the Philippine market under the stewardship of United Asia Automotive Group Inc. (UAAGI), the same company behind the success of Foton in the local market. Their newer product offerings have shown significant improvement in design, technology, and quality.

First Drive: 2022 Chery Tiggo 8 Pro image

Design-wise, the Tiggo 8 Pro is consistent with what we’ve seen done on the Tiggo 7 Pro led by their Executive Director for Design Steve Eum. It’s good to see how much of a revolution they’ve actually done to the look considering that this is only considered a major midcycle update. The front and rear look totally distinct, you’d actually think this was a completely new vehicle if the badges were covered up. It also gets a fresh set of wheels that further spices up its looks.

They’ve also decided to take the logo off the tailgate and spell “C H E R Y” proudly for the world to see how far they’ve come especially in the Philippine Market.

First Drive: 2022 Chery Tiggo 8 Pro image

The interior also gets a major refresh with a new fully digital instrument panel, a larger infotainment screen, digital climate control, and improved drive controls making a more streamlined and premium-looking shifter console. New aluminum-finished inserts and the new terra cotta-colored seats plus the door inserts give a nice luxurious feel.

First Drive: 2022 Chery Tiggo 8 Pro image

The second row along with the front benefit from the huge panoramic sunroof which adds to the spacious feel if you chose to leave the shade open. Seats on the second row are pretty much carried over with a 60/40 split that can fold flat should you need to load something bulky.

Third-row occupants ingress and egress through the right-hand side 40 split-seat on the middle row. Don't expect much in terms of headroom and legroom for the third row as this would be best left for smaller adults and children. But that's pretty much everyone in the same class.

First Drive: 2022 Chery Tiggo 8 Pro image

Under the hood of the 2022 Chery Tiggo 8 Pro's standard package is a 1.6-liter GDI (gasoline direct injection) variable turbo engine which is rated at 183 PS and 275 Nm, quite respectable figures. It is a “step-up” from the 1.5-liter turbo mill found in the 2020 Tiggo 8, which we found adequate before.

Another significant update to the drivetrain on the Tiggo 8 Pro is the new “wet type” 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, which promises smoother and more consistent shifts. We'll get to how the new engine and transmission feel on the road in a bit.

First Drive: 2022 Chery Tiggo 8 Pro image

Our route was a nice combination of scenic roads from Subic Bay through the national highway passing the towns of Morong and Bagac and finally up to Mount Samat Shrine in Pilar, Bataan. The drive was a little over 70 kilometers per way which gave us a chance to experience the actual on-road feel of the new Tiggo 8 Pro on roads in various states of upkeep.

The engine was very capable in cruising and overtaking duties, while the transmission did deliver smoothness as promised. Steering was a bit light on the standard "comfort" setting, but this was remedied with the "motion" setting, likely a Chinese translation of "active". The brake feel was typical of Chinese cars, having a slightly longer pedal travel than you would normally feel in Japanese cars. It's something that you'll get used to or could change in the car settings if you're driving style is typically "spirited".

The cabin noise which Chery claimed to be rated at 35 decibels was seemingly accurate as it did keep outside noise to a bare minimum, giving a premium European car feel. We'll get to a more in-depth review when we get the keys to one soon.

First Drive: 2022 Chery Tiggo 8 Pro image

In terms of safety, Chery Auto Philippines is touting the Tiggo 8 Pro as the most equipped in its price range with a full 12-feature ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) suite. These are; 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).

I hope the DOW works with "kamote riders" who try to sneak in between cars and curbs and blame the car owners.

The 2022 Chery Tiggo 8 Pro retails for PHP 1,650,000, it comes with features that you’d commonly find in more expensive premium models and an exceptional warranty. The figure may seem like a tall order as it doesn’t enjoy any tariff reduction due to its engine displacement.

It goes against some manual transmission PPV-SUVs and slots just in the middle of the B and C segment Japanese crossovers. It is definitely worth a look if you’re considering a mid-size SUV.