For over 56 years, BAIC (pronounced “bike”) have cultivated their relevance in automotive excellence and innovation in both China and across the globe. The brand’s arrival in the South African market early last year brought with it plans to also launch the Chinese manufacturer’s production plant. Alleged to be the first new car plant to be built on our shores in 40 years, exciting times are certainly on the horizon, as BAIC are anticipated to manufacture 50 000 vehicles a year by 2022.

In focus is the D20 Fashion hatch and accompanying my test drive is talented and well-informed BB Hatfield BAIC Sales Executive, Nomsa Kabini.

Fashionably good looking

Stylish, yet practically designed, it’s evident that BAIC designed the hatch to suit today’s trends. Integral headlights and daytime running lights, together with electrically adjustable, heated side mirrors that are also foldable, add to the surface appeal.

Upon entry, the welcoming dash and chrome trims catch the eye. A comfy armrest obliges, as you prepare to lay your hand on the chic gear lever. On further inspection, I noticed the attractive electric sunroof – which is a surprise, considering its modest appearance.

Other conveniences include a touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth™, single disc CD player, USB, AUX and AM/FM radio. It also has all-round electric windows for passenger convenience.

Safety for all travelers

A reasonably sized hatch with a convenient layout, BAIC specifically designed the vehicle to protect its driver and passengers with a safety-cage body structure and anti-UV glass. Included, ABS for collision prevention, two airbags and a seatbelt warning light to ensure your safety when faced with any mishap. You also have an immobiliser with an alarm for added safety.

Drive with ease

The 3-spoke, electrically powered, multifunctional steering wheel makes it almost effortless to maneuver. Other standard features on the 1.5-litre Fashion model are reverse camera, automatic door lock and speed sensor.

An underestimated vehicle, containing all the bells and whistles, this surprising hatch is a welcomed additional to first-time buyers, families or even a more senior demographic.

Don’t be coy, head to BAIC Hatfield and speak to the friendly and accommodating staff for the best deal on the D20 model.

By Inge Stols

Editor: Kersh Moodley