Omoda is not a name that many South Africans are familiar with and there’s a good reason for that. The brand was only launched in the local market this week. The Omoda C5 is the first model from the new-to-SA automaker. Well, it’s not an all-new automaker as we’ll explain in a moment.

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Luzury Arm

Omoda is the luxury/upmarket arm of the Chery Automobile company. Think of it as the Lexus to Chery’s Toyota. Its products are made by the same company, but designed for and sold to a slightly different buyer. To date the brand is sold in over a dozen markets outside of China. The Omoda C5 is the company’s first global model and South Africa is one of the very first to be privy to the luxury crossover.

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Bold Face

The Omoda C5 was designed from the get-go as a model that would be sold worldwide. As a result, the company went bold with the styling. The striking appearance starts with a prominent, geometric grille that is topped off by a pair of slim LED headlamps.

That is followed by a surfaced profile which shows off a ‘floating roof’ design trait, made possible by darkened pillars. Alloys wheels can measure up to 18 inches, depending on the derivative. The taillamps are also slim, multi-LED units, which wrap around the haunches. Like it or not the C5 really does cut a striking figure.

High-Tech Interior

The futuristic appearance of the exterior is mimicked in the cabin. Front occupants are greeted by a pair of 10,25-inch full-colour screens. Ahead of the drive is key driving info as well as full remote controls on the steering wheel. Higher-spec derivatives have electronic adjustment on both front seats.

The touchscreen on the centre of the facia houses the infotainment system. Oh, it can also be operated via voice commands using the on-board digital assistant. In fact, there are many functions of the C5 that can be controlled via voice activation. These include telephone controls (Android Auto and CarPlay are wireless) along with sunroof and window activation.

Three Flavours

The Omoda C5 is available locally in three trim levels: Tech, Elegance and Elegance S (see bottom of post for pricing). The main difference are between the Tech and Elegance; Elegance S simply adds red highlights to parts of the exterior (as pictured) hence the negligible price difference. The standard features list is really too long to go into here. Short of satellite navigation there is very little that isn’t included as standard.

The prime difference between Tech and Elegance versions is the suite of Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS). Among these are automatic high-beam switching, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alerts, traffic-sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assistance and lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning. There is also automatic emergency braking as well as emergency lane keep assist as standard.

One Powertrain

Omoda was launched with a single model, the C5. Although discussions at the event held this week made it clear that it is the first of many. The C5 is available locally with just one powertrain. A 1,5-litre turbocharged petrol engine delivers 115 kW and 230 N.m of torque. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is coupled with this engine. Omoda says the combination returns 6,9 litres/100 km in the combined cycle.

A Quick Drive

Omoda made its official debut in Johannesburg this week. We were at the presentation event and we got to drive the C5 Elegance. The route took us around the northern part of Johannesburg and to the Hartebeespoort area. Our initial impressions of the newcomer are favourable.

The powertrain provides more than adequate power for a family car to deal with the cut-and-thrust of Joburg traffic. Omoda engineers have even programmed nine steps into the CVT so it does not behave in that typical, drone-y manner. On a warm Highveld day we had the dual-zone climate control blasting to keep the cabin chilled.

The suspension system is a, not uncommon, MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear layout. The set-up dealt with the many rutted roads and unavoidable potholes pretty well. The high-ish, 55 profile tyres can also take some of the credit for the comfort levels.


South Africans are, or were considered a loyal bunch when it comes to buying new cars. We buy what we know or that which is recommended by those around us. However, new players in the market are changing those traditional buying habits.

Chery is a prime example of this. The brand is now a regular in the ‘top ten sales chart’. Based on what we see, and felt, not for a moment to forget the pricing, the Omoda C5 is, in all likelihood, going to add to the sales success the company has enjoyed in SA of late.

Omoda C5 Pricing

Tech                     R447 900
Elegance             R507 900
Elegance S          R509 900