Ch­ery on bot­tom

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cars News - PAUL GOVER CHIEF REPORTER paul.gover@carsguide.com.au Twit­ter @paulward­gover

SO, THE Ch­ery J1 has been kicked out ofAus­tralia be­cause it’s not safe enough.

Good rid­dance, Carsguide says.

It’s been outed by the lat­est reg­u­la­tions on com­pul­sory elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, which also net­ted and re­jected the GreatWall X240 and Suzuki Jimny.

The bot­tom­line is that elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol— break­through tech that uses com­put­erised con­trol of a car’s brak­ing sys­tem to main­tain con­trol in a po­ten­tial emer­gency— is now fit­ted to ev­ery car in Aus­tralian show­rooms.

Be­cause ESC is linked to the anti-lock brakes, ba­si­cally work­ing it in re­verse to pull a car straight if it wob­bles out of line, it means we also get the ben­e­fit of ABS to pre­vent wheels lock­ing and en­able us to steer around a po­ten­tial dis­as­ter.

Vic­to­ria went early on com­pul­sory ESC but now the whole coun­try has joined the lat­est safety party.

My only out­ing in a J1 took place one morn­ing in Syd­ney. The Chi­nese cheapie had prom­ise but the re­al­ity of life with the $9990 new comer was not good.

It­was slow away fromthe lights, had wonky brakes and wob­bly cor­ner­ing.

I com­piled a list of 18 flaws in the as­sem­bly work, from body parts that were only un­der­coated to a dash­board that ap­peared to have been made us­ing parts fro­mat least four com­pa­nies who had never spo­ken to each other.

Ch­ery changed the gear­ing of the J1 within aweek, but that was about it. There are still some stocks of J1s in deal­er­ships, and Suzuki says it has enough Jim­nys un­tilMarch of 2014. But those cars be­long to the past, a fact em­pha­sised this week with ve­hi­cles as di­verse as Kia’s Rondo, the Mazda 6 and Re­nault’s Clio each win­ning five ANCAP stars.

Carsguide’s rule is sim­ple: if a car does not score at least a four-star ANCAP safety rat­ing, then it is not tested.

It’s partly about pro­tect­ing the test team— but mostly it’s be­cause the bot­tom­line for any Carsguide verdict is whether we would rec­om­mend a car to fam­ily or friends. We won’t tell you to buy a two-star car. The same goes on the sec­ond-hand front.

We also take a huge in­ter­est in any safety de­vel­op­ment work that could make our roads a bet­ter place to drive. Feed­back fromthe Carsguide crew alerted Mercedes-Benz to a flawin a safety fea­ture that uses the next de­vel­op­ment of ESC to keep a car in its lane.

We wore big smiles when the lat­est S-Class and E-Class cars ar­rived with a tweak that’s di­rectly linked to our driv­ing and writ­ing. But we’re smil­ing for a very dif­fer­ent rea­son when we re­flect on the J1.

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