NEW D20 IN SA: BAIC becomes the latest Chinese automaker to enter SA with the launch of its new D20 hatchback and sedan. Image: Wheels24/ Sergio Davids
Johannesburg - The latest addition to the growing ranks of Chinese automakers in South Africa is launching its first product range into the local market. Beijing Automotive Group Co (BAIC) has launched its D20 in SA, which arrives in both hatchback and sedan derivatives.
BAIC (curiously pronounced 'Bike') is investing millions in SA to create a vehicle factory capable of building its models locally. However, the automaker isn’t waiting for the local assembly in South Africa to start selling cars; in April 2017 it’s rolling out its model range, starting with the D20 hatchback (built in China).
So what exactly is the 'Bike' D20? It’s an aggressively-priced city car aimed at budget buyers, with prices starting from R149 000 for the hatchback and R209 900 for the sedan.
The two D20 body styles, hatchback and sedan, measure 4m long, with the sedan being 282mm longer. If you’ve spotted similarities to a certain German MPV, you’re not far off; BAIC acknowledges the design resemblance: “Overall styling of the hatchback is reminiscent of the first-generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class model.”
BAIC has a technology-sharing agreement with Mercedes-Benz and the D20 hatch and sedan range being launched in South Africa is built on the basic platform developed by Mercedes-Benz for its Smart ForFour.
Scroll/click through the images below:
Engines and suspension
The local D20 range comprises five hatchback derivatives and a single sedan option. The hatch can be fitted with either a 1.3-litre or 1.5-litre petrol engine and a five-speed manual or four-speed auto. The sedan is only available with a 1.5-litre petrol mated to four-speed auto.
Power is derived from two, four-cylinder petrol engines (1.3 and 1.5) capable of 75kW/128Nm and 85kW/148Nm respectively.
Power is sent to the front wheels via the five-speed manual gearbox or four-speed auto, with the latter having three mode settings; Eco for saving fuel, Snow for a smooth pull-away on uneven surfaces and Sport for a delayed shift when, says BAIC, “driving enthusiastically”.
Suspension is by means of MacPherson struts in front and a torsion beam at the rear. Disc brakes are fitted to all four wheels with ABS and EBD. Reversing sensors are fitted to all models. The steering column can be adjusted.
There are two trim levels; Comfort and Fashion.
The Comfort specification has fog lights, auto-on headlights, rain sensing wipers (except 1.3-litre model), power windows, leather-trimmed steering wheel, reversing radar and height adjustable headlights.
The Fashion spec adds electric sunroof, day-time running lights, alloys, auto folding exterior rear-view mirrors, audio system with 6.5” touch screen, GPS, USB, CD player, radio and six speakers with speed-sensitive sound level adjustment. Other features exclusive to Fashion derivatives include aircon, an electric sunroof, day-time running lights, folding side-mirrors (heatable).
The rear seat of the hatch is split 60:40 and the backrest can be folded to provide, claims BAIC, 1190 litres of load space, while the sedan’s luggage boot capacity is rated at 450 litres.
The D20 is fitted with front airbags, foglights, automatic fuel cut-off, height-adjustable headlights, ABS and EBD, child safety door locks, auto headlights and two ISOFIX mountings. Rain sensors are standard on all models except the 1.3-litre model.
Huge investment in SA
BAIC, together with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), is investing up to R11-billion in South Africa, including a full-scale vehicle manufacturing facility, which will be the first one in South Africa, and Africa Continent, in the last 40 years. The factory is situated in the Coega Industrial Development Zone in Port Elizabeth. The construction of the first stage of the manufacturing facility is currently underway and the production is scheduled to start in early 2018.
What about dealers? BAIC says "The D20 model range will be sold and served by a newly-established, national network of 21 dealers covering most of the key cities and towns in the country."
The D20 is sold with a five-year/120 000km warranty with service intervals of 10 000km. According to BAIC: “There is a free service at 3000km. Service and maintenance plans are an option from the dealers”.
D20 Hatch 1.3M/T (Comfort) - R149 990
D20 Hatch 1.5M/T (Comfort) - R169 990
D20 Hatch 1.5M/T (Fashion) - R179 990
D20 Hatch 1.5A/T (Fashion) - R189 990
D20 Sedan 1.5A/T (Fashion) - R209 990