In December 2011 it was announced that Geely would begin selling Chinese designed and manufactured cars in the United Kingdom at the end of 2012, with the first model to go on sale the Emgrand EC7. This car is now launched in South Africa after its successful debut in various other right-hand drive countries, but is yet to be made available in the UK.
Emgrand vehicles will be distributed in the UK by Manganese Bronze Holdings, manufacturers of the iconic London taxi (which Geely took over in February this year), trading under the name Geely Auto UK.
Around the time Geely started negotiating the Volvo take-over, the company had already identified the need for better quality cars, albeit at a slightly higher price. Value for money remained at the top of the agenda, and the Emgrand sub-brand was born.
The Emgrand sub-brand was publicly unveiled at the 2009 Auto Shanghai motor show.
Emgrand EC7 production models were completed in July 2009 at the Geely plant in Ningbo, Zhejiang. The EC7 went on sale in China in mid-August that year as Emgrand’s launch model. The second Emgrand production model, the EC8, was launched in October 2010.
In April Emgrand unveiled its KC concept car at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show. This new car is a full-size sedan which previews the Emgrand EC9 production model based on the platform of the Volvo S80, and is scheduled to be launched in 2015.
The new Geely Emgrand EC7 – a high-quality vehicle with high spec as part of a vision to establish a new range for the discerning buyer, but at an affordable price.
Launching from a sniff below R150 000, the high-quality and full-specced new EC7 is a confident competitor in a market flooded by much more expensive cars offering this kind of quality and spec. Two models will be available at launch – the EC7 GL Luxury and the EC7 GT Executive.
With all the electronic bells and whistles expected in anything on offer in this class out of Korea, Japan, Europe and the USA, the new Geely Emgrand EC7 is scheduled to get noticed by buyers and competitors alike.
The EC7 is the privately owned Chinese automaker’s first world model and the result of three years of intense research, testing and development.“The new EC7 embodies the Geely Automotive Group’s dedication to the highest international standards, and is the ideal model to launch the new luxury Emgrand sub-brand in South Africa,” says Henri Meistre, Managing Director of Geely SA. “It is a car of many firsts, with particular reference to its country of origin and the subsequent competitors.”
The EC7 is based on an entirely new Emgrand platform developed according to a first-class internationally-derived development process. The entire vehicle meets multiple European safety and environmental standards, and is the first and only Chinese vehicle produced by a stand-alone manufacturer to score a full-house of 5 stars in the Chinese NCAP crash tests, and 4 in its very first attempt at the stringent Euro-NCAP collision tests.
Offering outstanding value for money at an unmatched price, the new EC7 is launched with a powerful 1.8-litre 4-cylinder DOHC engine matched to a 5-speed manual transmission with a
6-speed auto version (not yet available for right-hand drive models) following later this year in various international markets.
The new EC7 is a C-segment sedan aimed at families looking for an economic short, medium and long distance vehicle, professionals who need a bigger car offering great value, representatives who spend a lot of time – and distance – behind the wheel, as well as fleet operators and private buyers who do not want to break the bank.
Emgrand is positioned as the luxury sub-brand of Geely Automotive, with massive success in its home country and export markets where the car has been available for the last year. The South African version is fully manufactured in China, and both Egypt and Russia assemble the EC7 in CKD kit form.The new model is yet to be launched in the UK.
During the research and development phase of the new EC7, the Geely Automobile Research Institute has worked with many internationally renowned specialists, including various European companies. Feedback for local conditions has also been provided by Geely technicians from the Geely SA Research and Development Centre at the company’s independent South African head office in Midrand.
The design team was led by Zhao Fuquan, a former research director at Chrysler’s Global Technology Centre, and now President of the Geely Automobile Research Institute. From the outside, the new EC7 looks right at home in any European car park. The stunning frontal design boasts a “Black Magic” headlight cluster giving the vehicle an aggressive yet serious look. Features such as height adjustment, daytime running lights and front fog lights come standard in both models.
The new-to-South-Africa red, gold and black Emgrand logo dominates the front grille with chromed horisontal fins beneath a chromed lip on the bonnet. From behind the new Emgrand has a wide but elegant and mature presence, boasting the same prominent logo on the lip of the luggage lid.
The car has a very fashionable and comfortable interior, with abundant space all around. Rear seat passengers will find a surprising amount of leg and head room, as is the case with the front occupants.
The interior design of the EC7 features two and three colour tones on the dashboard and door panels as well as the instrument cluster and middle console. Something that immediately catches the eye, is the soft, but clear blue backlighting of the instrument panel. The centre console houses a CD/radio combination and an easy to operate climate control system standard on both South African launch models.
Powered by the GeTec 1.8-litre engine delivering 102 kW with 172 Nm of torque, the EC7 accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in 10.5 seconds (Chinese figures), reaching a top-speed of approximately 185 km/h. The light-weight all-aluminium engine boasts technological advances such as a plastic intake manifold and CVVT (continuous variable valve timing), to name but a few.
With an extremely attractive launch price , and depending on the model, the new EC7 is loaded with standard equipment, ranging from comfort and luxury features to safety and security systems.
The layout of the cockpit is as ergonomic as it gets, with the main focal point of the driver the small, but easily visible instrument panel. The instrument cluster houses two main dials for speed – vehicle and engine speed – and a unique fuel gauge and water temperature meter made up of the vertical halves of a circle.
Other driver aids include electrical operation for the exterior door mirrors and windows (both models) and driver’s seat (GT only), with the window, central locking and mirror control buttons within arm’s length on the driver’s door.
As far as comfort is concerned, both launch models have leather interior, climate control with easy to control dials in the centre console, and the sound system (radio/CD player) situated directly above. The fully adjustable air vents on the extremes of the dashboard and in the centre console will surprise many with its high quality mechanism absolutely free of even the tiniest of rattles…
Also unexpected from anything out of China – and a direct result of Geely’s new vision for quality – are the low levels of Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) in this car. Transfer of noise from the wind and road surface at any speed is unobtrusive, while engine noise – even at high acceleration – is at just the right level, yet negligible, to realise a positive driving feel. The opening and closing of the doors – usually a tell-tale sign of build quality, or the lack thereof – gives a solid feeling and has a deep, quality sound, not an empty clank as in many modern cars of this day and age.
The new Emgrand EC7, which will be available through each of Geely’s 40 plus dealerships all over South Africa and in Namibia, will be launched at the very competitive price of R159 990 for the GL Luxury and R174 990 for the GT Executive, which apart from the electric driver’s seat also boasts ESC (electronic slip control), 4 additional airbags and an electric sunroof.
Seven exteriors colours are available – Mocha Red, Danaube Blue, Gothic Black, Scotland Red, Athens White, Vienna Gold and Alps Silver.
Both vehicles will be covered by Geely’s 5-year/100 000 km warranty (optional service plans are available) as well as 2-year road side assistance for the ultimate in peace-of-mind motoring.