and the Landwind SUV competitor from Jiangling Motor Corporation
BRIAN BASSETT drives the JMC Landwind 5
THE South African vehicle market seems to have a huge appetite for compact crossovers and SUVs, which has led to the withdrawal of some excellent large sedans from the marketplace.
There also appears to be a gradually increasing acceptance of Chinese cars so the introduction of the Landwind in 2015, a vehicle first shown at the Guangzhou Motor Show in 2012, therefore comes as no surprise.
The Landwind’s design and manufacture has involved a number of distinguished names in the automotive world. The engine is a 2,0 litre Mitsubishi power plant, which once powered the Mitsubishi Evo, while Pro-Drive provided the suspension, Borg Warner the turbo charger, Delphi the electronics and Getrag the gearbox. But the Landwind competes against the likes of the Nissan Juke, Ford Ecosport and Mahindra XUV 500 — all very good buys. So we are grateful to Baboo Essa of Metro Car Sales for allowing us a few days with the car.
The first thing one looks for in a Chinese vehicle is the existence of design cues that may derive from other similar, successful Japanese, Korean or European vehicles on the market.
The Landwind, however, appears to be refreshingly new in design, although there are those who see elements of the Ford Kuga, Renault Koleos and Hyundai ix35 in its makeup.
That minor issue aside, the design won’t overwhelm you but it does grow on you. The exterior is smooth and slick. It also does not look like anything else on the road and projects a bold, practical and solid stance, which gives it a presence even though the design is not aggressive.
The front end is quite long and flanked by swept back headlamps on either side of a three-slatted grille with centre badge. The car also has a pair of fog lamps flanking a black lower grille and the rear end has a well-designed tailgate flanked by wrap-around tail lamps. In all, a well-packaged and good-looking exterior.
The interior is light, spacious and airy. The interior arrangement is useful with about a hand width of headroom and a huge rear seat space, which allows three adults plenty of leg room.
The dash is pleasantly unfussy and besides the many buttons for the radio/CD/AUX, it is easy to operate. There is unfortunately no multi-function steering wheel, touch screen, Bluetooth connectivity or cruise control.
But while the Landwind lacks the basic add-ons that help sell the more expensive SUVs, what it does offer are easy to operate manually.
One niggle for especially more petite drivers will be the driver’s seat, which has no height adjustment. For the longer driver, the rake-and-reach adjustment for the steering wheel does help to create more knee room. Other than the height problem with the driver’s seat, the seats are well finished in a robust two-tone fabric and offer comfort and space.
Hard plastics abound in this price range but the piano black trim holds the design together in a modern and fashionable manner. The boot space is considerable and almost doubles with the rear seat folded down. The level of craftsmanship is surprisingly good, but the vehicle we drove had a cover for the cubbyhole that did not quite fit properly. The steering wheel and gear lever appear to lack robustness, although gear changes remain unaffected.
Safety and security
The Landwind has all of the features needed for a safe journey.
There is ABS with EBD, park distance control, a high mounted rear brake light, child safety rear door locks and seat belts for all.
The car has, in addition, electric windows and side mirrors, as well as driver and passenger air bags. Power steering is standard and the wipers have an intermittent setting, while the roof rails will take your extra luggage for the holidays.
Performance and handling
The Landwind is an urban SUV and the four-cylinder, turbocharged Shenyang Aerospace Mitsubishi 4G63S4T engine puts out 140 kW of power and 250 Nm of torque.
Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox it will take you from 0-100 km/h in about 11 seconds and top speed, should you need it, is around 185 km/h. Fuel consumption is difficult with an SUV, but is likely to be around 10,5 l per 100 km in the combined cycle.
The Mitsubishi engine under the Landwind’s hood is responsive and energetic, but the engine really only livens up at around 3 000 rpm, when it has the feel its power and torque predict. The steering is quite responsive, but the car does not like being driven hard on very poor roads.
The soft springing results in some body roll but the ride on most road surfaces is pliant.
At normal speeds the Landwind had no problem on dirt and the 190 mm ground clearance ensures there is no scraping on very bad roads.
For mums looking for a spacious SUV, the Landwind offers family transport without pretensions or badge clout, but with a big discount and a threeyear/100 000 km guarantee and a two-year /60 000 km service plan.
And, a bonus when it comes to servicing costs, Metro Cars’ devoted garage is notably lower in price than the competitors who do have the badge clout.
Costs and competition
The Landwind 5, 2,0 MT will cost you around R290 000. Landwind dealers do, however, have a current offer of R40 000 deal assistance, which brings the price down to R250 000 to turn this SUV into quite an attractive proposition.
This market sector is competitive and you should also look at the GWM H6, Mahindra XUV 500, SsangYong Korando and Nissan Juke.
The Landwind is made for mums who just want a good-looking, spacious family car that won’t break the bank and can traverse occasional dirt roads.