Driven: GWM C10 hatch
C10 ON TOP: GWM has big plans for its new C10 small hatchback; CEO Tony Pinfold wants to sell 200 units a month in SA.
Author: Hailey Philander
It’s hard to believe that GWM has already been in South Africa for five years, but the Chinese automaker is not about to let sceptical locals forget – it has just launched its all-new C10 model in the country.
C10 vehicle specs
When GWM first arrived with containers brimming with single and double cabs in 2007, the collective groan from the South African public was audible – "not another Chinese upstart!" But the brand has managed to successfully integrate itself into the local car arena; enough so to launch the first model in an all-new assault.
Johannesburg was the setting for the launch of the new C10 hatchback that will eventually replace the more familiar Florid in South Africa. Another Toyota Yaris lookalike, the C10 actually uses a remapped version of the Florid’s 1.5 (that uses a Toyota block…)
The South African small hatchback segment is brimming with talent and GWM believes its C10’s value proposition will win it a flood of new fans. Representatives present at the launch admitted the C10 was being pitched directly at Ford’s funky Figo, although shoppers in this fiercely-fought segment – at a similar price – could also consider the Fiat Punto, Nissan Micra, Renault Sandero and the Volkswagen Polo Vivo.
At R134 990, the C10 is quite a bit more than the Florid (R118 840) but it remains a relatively convincing option in this segment.
Its styling is rather unconventional with a very pronounced V-shaped grille, so you’re unlikely to lose it in the hatchback crowd. It still looks a lot like a Yaris though – particularly at the rear – although standard 15” alloy wheels and a rear spoiler incorporating the third brake light add to the C10’s sporty appeal.
For the price, you get a car that is comprehensively equipped. There’s one spec level, so everything is standard: power steering, aircon, multi-function steering wheel, rear park assist, electric windows and side mirrors, and an MP3-compatible audio system with jacks for your music player and iPod.
There's 144 litres of luggage space (which is not much) but with some time and patience you can slide and fold the rear seats to fall flat and free up more space - up to 752 litres. The seat backs recline, too.
SAFE AND SOUND
Safety features include anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, central locking, and front and rear fog lamps.
The C10’s dimensions make it best suited to city pursuits and on the launch we were sent along a route that included mostly freeway driving with a short stretch through Joburg’s CBD. The little GWM certainly proved manoeuvrable – its displays of light steering at low speeds were useful for dodging taxis, but the electrically assisted rack-and-pinion system did firm up considerably at speed.
Suspension is the work of a MacPherson strut at the front axle and a trailing arm/twist beam arrangement at the rear. It does a wonderful job of conveying a comfortable ride.
Power is supplied by a 1.5-litre petrol engine developing 77kW/138Nm and linked to a five-speed manual transmission. The car driven on the launch probably still needs a bit of running in – shifts between gears one and three were somewhat stodgy, but it should ease up with use.
As for performance, the VVT unit required some downshifting up the longer hills when the revs dropped, but in the correct gear had no problem dealing with the national speed limit.
GWM SA CEO Tony Pinfold said additions to the C10 range could be expected, with automatic and diesel derivatives possible at a later date. He added that there’ll be one spec level at launch although, depending on the market response, a lower spec version (with a lower price tag) could also be considered.
First impressions of the C10 are, while it’s not perfect, it is comfortable and feels well put together.
GWM is assured it offers the complete package to city dwellers with “good looks, performance and safety and comfort features” backed up by a three-year or 100 000km warranty and two years of 24-hour roadside assistance.