THE price is right on Chinese passenger car to hit the road in Australia always had to be cheap to make an impact, and the bottom line is just $ 11,990 — and that’s on the road. The value is unquestionable. The J1 is the new Australian price leader, and the deal includes 24/ 7 roadside assistance for the entire period of the three-year, 100,000km warranty. But the J1 is playing catch-up and not just because Chery of China came to carmaking later than the Japanese and Korean brands that now dominate in Australia. Simply, quality on the car is well below accepted standard in local showrooms. And the J1 also needs some engine-room tweaking before performance is up to par. Chery is China’s largest independent vehicle manufacturer, factories and a transmission plant. Total production last year was 680,000 vehicles. It has ambitious export plans and a useful test case. Chery importer, Ateco Automotive, believes the dollar deal on the J1 will be more than good enough to draw plenty of buyers and it has already forced Suzuki to match the bottom line with its tiny Alto. Ateco has already proven the point with the Great Wall SUV and utes it also handles and has big plans for both Chinese brands over the coming years. It’s impossible to fault the J1 on the value front. It costs a miserly $ 11,990, including on-road costs, and the deal provides two airbags, ABS brakes, airconditioning, power steering, remote keyless entry, alloy wheels, power mirrors and front electric windows. And the car’s sound system is MP3 compatible. The most important missing ingredient is ESP stability control, which means it can’t be sold in Victoria. But there’s no Bluetooth, either. Rating the value means lining it up against the smaller — but better at $ 11,990 drive-away to match the Chery.
The Chinese car also needs to be compared to something like the impressive new Nissan Micra. The J1 is nearly 30 per cent cheaper than the Nissan, and that says a lot. Nothing too special: It’s a with a 1.3-litre baby engine, space gearbox working the front wheels. `` Chery is known for its focus on constant innovation and drive towards better quality, wellappointed cars at an affordable price,’’ says Ateco Automotive