Last weekend I received the EC7 from the service center to review. I couldn’t have picked a better/worse time to drive to Shuwaikh. It was about 11:30 when I drove out and the heat was mid 40 degrees C and traffic was jam packed on all roads leading out of Shuwaikh. This meant I was crawling at a snail’s pace in blistering heat in a new car that I had no idea about. Fortunately this gave me enough time to adjust the seat and steering a bit more than when I left the service center and I finally found a comfortable setting and by then the air conditioning had reached its peak performance.
For my review of the EC7 I decided to take a different route from what I’d posted about the EC8. This car is targeted towards a young or small family with a entry level budget so I did my testing and planned the review accordingly.
Looks: The styling of the EC7 matches those of the new generation Korean cars and blends in well with the modern sedans. From different angles you do see the influences of the Chevrolet Optra, Hyndai Elantra and from the rear there’s influences from Renault and maybe even the Indian Swift Dezire.
Build: One thing that I’ve noticed consistently with the Geely was that it didn’t feel like what I initially expected from a Chinese car. One example are the doors and the boot lid. Open and close them a couple of times and you’ll get a sense of the solidness of construction. They felt heavy and firm and when closing there was none of that ‘metallic clank’, instead you get a nice solid thunk thats more in the league of a more expensive car. As with the previous car there was sound proofing layers in the boot and hood which makes the interiors noise free.
Interiors: The model I drove was decently equipped and featured upholstered seats, sunroof, CD player and USB inputs. There were also enough storage spaces for loose change, documents, sunglasses and odd bits. The materials used for the dashboard felt a little plasticky but the color combination worked well and gave it a bright look. It reminded me of the Nissan Tida’s interiors. All instrument lights glow in a soft blue which I found to be better than the EC8.
Ride and handling: Being a light car it did feel nimble but on certain roads like #55 it felt too bouncy and didn’t soak up all the bumps on the road. The steering was ‘over-servo’ed as they call it and to me it felt too light. This may be alright for weaker drivers or ladies but I prefer a heaver steering feel.
Power and performance: The EC7 that I drove was a 1.8 16 valve unit developed by Geely and had a CVT transmission similar to my Outlander. The gearbox did an adequate job of moving through the preset ratios but its better to leave in fully automatic mode since the manual mode was not as quick as I preferred. The good news is that it performs very well on highways and you can cruise at the legal speed limit with the engine running around the 2.5K rpm mark. I wish they had a similar setup for the EC8.
Practicality: This should be good news for new buyers since this car is really easy to use in real world conditions, I spent an hour stuck in traffic in Shuwaikh and didn’t feel too frustrated. After that I had to run a couple of errands and parking it was a breeze thanks to the reverse sensors and small turning radius. The boot was also pretty big and accommodated my weekend shopping. Visibility from the front and side windows was good and there weren’t any blind spots for the driver.
Stereo: This is one area that I missed in my previous review. Both the cars have a pretty decent sound setup and by that I mean they sound good at normal volume levels and its uniform throughout the cabin. The CD players accepted mp3 discs and also had an alternate input. The EC8 had an SD card slot and the EC7 has a micro-USB port where you can hook up your USB flash device.
The EC7 has a rating of 5 in the C-NCAP crash tests and you can see the full reports from my previous post.
Now for the scope of improvements.
1. Gear changes could be a little more quicker, especially in manual mode.
2. Buzzer for the reverse sensor is very feeble and hardly audible in noisy traffic
3. USB port could have been the standard size instead of micro-USB (Geely also provides a USB cable with the full size connector)
4. Steering’s hydraulic assistance can be decreased just a little so that steering has a little more weight
Overall I’d say this is going to be a very tempting deal once you hear about the prices they have in mind. Coupled with the lease options and the warranty period this will make for a compelling reason to try this car.