Chinese private automaker Geely is gradually building a reputation in South Africa for remarkably well-equipped cars at modest prices - and local buyers are catching on.We’ve driven several and have had no cause for complaint, given the price range in which Geely operates, but now come a pair of larger cars, genuine five-seaters, with a DOHC, 1.8-litre, four-cylinder engine, a merely five-speed manual gearbox but a number of “luxury” features.A six-speed auto is a future possibility.POWER SUNROOFEmgrand is a new sub-brand in the Geely empire, rather like Lexus is to Toyota and Infiniti is to Nissan – though not in the same league of sophistication and certainly not in the same price bracket.Image galleryThe Emgrand EC7 will be available through each of Geely’s more than 40 dealers across South Africa and Namibia at R149 990 for the GL Luxury and R164 990 for the GT Executive, the latter with four air bags and a power sunroof.Both models have leather upholstery.It’s a medium/large (C segment) sedan with design cues dare I say "borrowed" from other more accepted brands – the boot-lid shape is undeniably from Mercedes, the twin creases from the front to rear wings a Hyundai signature.Geely boldly states in its media material: "The Emgrand EC7 is... a high-quality vehicle with high spec, part of a vision to establish a new range for the discerning buyer but at an affordable price; a confident competitor in a market flooded by much more expensive cars offering this kind of quality and spec."'MANY FIRSTS'The car, it adds, has "all the electronic bells and whistles expected in anything on offer in this class out of Korea, Japan, Europe or the USA" and is the automaker’s first "world model, the result of three years of intense research, testing and development".Henri Meistre, the genial MD of Geely SA, told Wheels24: "The EC7 embodies the Geely group's dedication to the highest international standards and is the ideal model (with which) to launch the new luxury Emgrand sub-brand in South Africa."It’s a car of many firsts, with particular reference to its country of origin."The car claims to meet multiple European safety and environmental standards and to be the first and only Chinese vehicle produced by a standalone manufacturer to score five stars in Chinese NCAP crash tests and four in its first attempt at EuroNCAP collision tests.It’s aimed, Geely says, at "families looking for an economical short, medium or long distance vehicle; professionals who need a bigger car offering great value, representatives who spend a lot of time – and distance – behind the wheel; and fleet operators and private buyers".The South African version is fully assembled in China.A "Black Magic" headlight cluster is a feature – check our image gallery – and comes on both models with height adjustment, daytime running lights and fog lights. The red, gold and black Emgrand logo is new, front and rear; the grille has chromed horizontal fins beneath a chromed bonnet lip on the bonnet.ALL ALUMINIUM ENGINEThe cabin has several colour tones on the dashboard and door panels and the instrument cluster a blue background. The centre console houses a CD/radio and aircon controls.The 1.8 engine is an all-aluminium GeTec listed as being capable of 102kW/172Nm and 0-100km/h in 10.5 seconds (Chinese figures); claimed top speed is about 185km/h – something most much smaller-engined cars can achieve these days.Driving aids include power exterior mirrors and windows (both models) and power adjustment for the driver’s seat (GT only).Seven exteriors colours are available – red, blue, black, white, gold, silver – and the cars will be delivered with a five-year or 100 000km warranty and two years of roadside assistance.Various service plans are available.