Sirius - new star from China?
SIRIUS BUSINESS: It's from one of China's leading automakers and promises 'cost-effective motoring'. Images: DAVE FALL
Author: DAVE FALL
There’s a whole raft of Chinese vehicles entering the South African market – usually of the bakkie persuasion – a type of vehicle that not to everybody’s tastes or needs.
Now, by way of a change, there's a good-looking MPV called Sirius (four derivatives) hit FAW showrooms countrywide – and there’s a roomy panel van in the mix.
What really sets the Sirius apart from its competitors is the very reasonable level of standard equipment (see later) which is virtually the same for both the seven-seater MPV and the panel van. Add in competitive prices (from R150 000) and you have a value-for-money offering.
Two engines are available – a 1298cc and 1497cc capable of, respectively, 67kW/120Nm and 75kW/140Nm.
CHINESE AUTO LEADER
Pedro Pereira, general manager of FAW cars and light commercials, told me: “Increasing awareness of the FAW brand through a strong national advertising campaign and growing sales of the FAW Sirius people-carrier have spurred us to expand the range to include a larger, more powerful, engine.”
What is FAW? Fair question. The company says it’s a leader in the Chinese auto industry and been in the business for 60 years. It has production joint ventures with VW/Audi, Mazda, Toyota and General Motors.
FAW’s group sales in 2012 were more than 2.6-million (passenger and commercial) and it ranks 165th in the Forbes Fortune 500 with more than 130 000 employees in more than 100 countries.
Wheels24 drove a top-spec Sirius 1.5 model north of Durban on Friday. The very wet, 90km, test route was enough to discover the high and not-so-high points of a vehicle aimed at the burgeoning entry-level sector of the SA market.
The Sirius is certainly a good-looker from any angle. Looks familiar? You’re quite right –it shares its underpinnings and silhouette with the Toyota Avanza, an established and successful model well-known to astute lower-income South African families and taxi operators.
The test unit had less than 150km on its odometer. The five-speed gearbox was notchy, the clutch adjustment set so the Sirius was prone to stall.
The comfortable cabin has aircon, central locking and power steering and windows as well as an audio system with MP3 player/USB port – but no CD slot. The car also has remote-controlled keyless entry, front and rear foul-weather lights, an alarm/immobiliser, headlight adjustment and rear-door child locks.
On the safety front the Sirius MPV matches competitors with anti-lock brakes and a nice set of five strong-looking 15” alloy rims carrying 185/65 rubber.
Pereira promised top-class support and service through a countrywide dealer network “to ensure cost-effective motoring and transport solutions”.
The FAW Sirius is covered by a three-year or 100 000km factory warranty, a year’s roadside assistance and a four-year or 60 000km service plan.
1.3 Panel-van - R149 995
1.3 Comfort - R159 995
1.5 Standard - R179 995
1.5 S80 Comfort - R189 995