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BAIC’s Beijing X55 is a beauty

You should also be aware of Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC). Its first model here was the D20, a hatchback obviously modelled off the B-Class from Mercedes-Benz's previous generation B-Week. After

Once upon a time, Chinese vehicles were the object of much ridicule and laughter. Not just from individuals like myself who make a livelihood assessing vehicles, but also from the general population that invests their money in long-term vehicles.

The Chinese auto industry, meanwhile, has been cutting corners in recent years. Take a look at the last 24 months' accomplishments of Great Wall Motors'(GWM) Haval division. Bear in mind the leaps that Chery has made over the last 12 months. They are now producing hot-looking vehicles.

You should also be aware of Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC). Its first model here was the D20, a hatchback obviously modelled off the B-Class from Mercedes-Benz's previous generation B-Week. After that, it expanded its lineup to include the peculiar-looking X25 and the B40 off-roader (renamed BJ40 for some reason).

As if it were ever alive, BAIC is almost extinct in Zimbabwe. The intensive care unit has been its home from the beginning.

The Beijing X55, its most recent offering, however, has garnered somewhat less mixed reviews. After getting behind the wheel of the vehicle for a few days in Johannesburg, I can say with confidence that it is among the most alluring options in the small crossover class and among the most attractive Chinese vehicles available.

Those who have been keeping up with the brand's wares may recall the D20, B40, and X25 models. If the B40 and the new Beijing X55 models are any indication, BAIC succeeds in keeping up with the other Chinese marques that are causing a stir in Southern Africa at the moment.

The Beijing X55 is still among the most attractive small crossovers on the market, competing with models like the Haval Jolion, Chery Tiggo 4 Pro, Toyota Urban Cruiser, and Kia Sonet, among many others.

Dynamic, Elite, and Premium are the three versions available for purchase. Everyone knows that Chinese manufacturers typically have a unique pricing strategy, but what really caught me off guard was that their automobiles had all the bells and whistles.


Just looking at it, the Beijing X55 has modern design elements that a lot of people at the event, including myself, found appealing. The front end is smooth and has slender headlights and concealed windscreen wipers; the back end is sporty with slim taillights and a split rear wing.

It takes some time to adjust to the concealed door knobs on the side.


The look of each version is almost the same, with the main difference being in the details of the specifications. The 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine that comes standard on all trim levels produces 130 kW and 305 Nm of torque. The front axle receives power from a 7-speed DCT gearbox, allowing it a start-to-100 km/h acceleration of 7.8 seconds.

Though I thought the leather finish to be of low quality, all three models had high-grade inside elements that provided a contemporary touch and had seats that were adequately supported.

A 12.25-inch customizable instrument cluster and a 10.1-inch CarbitLink infotainment system are standard features of the lineup.


It is important to note that BAIC adopted the same strategy as its rival Haval in eliminating buttons and switches. Everything from controlling the volume to accessing the vehicle's climate control, radio, and driving modes is accessible via the infotainment system.

The decor is nice and minimalist; however, it could use some extra storage space. It does not have smartphone connectivity with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but it does have an in-built technology called CarbitLink that can mirror the screen of a connected smartphone onto the X55 using a USB cable.

For instance, the infotainment system conceals the driving modes, volume control, and air conditioning modes.

Too much trouble?


You will have to get accustomed to the unusual placement of the hazards button on the overhead console.

Those displays up there, along with Bluetooth, keyless entry/start, 18-inch wheels, and four modes of operation (Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Smart), are all standard on the Dynamic. In the middle trim level, the Elite gets 19-inch alloy wheels, a motorized tailboard, power seats, and a panoramic sunroof.

A rearview camera, ambient lighting, heated and ventilated seats, a memory feature for the driver's seat, front parking sensors, and an 8-speaker audio system are all standard on the top-tier Premium.

Various safety features are available, including six airbags, a rearview camera, hill descent control, rear parking sensors, and anti-lock brakes with assist.

The Beijing X55 largely establishes a solid reputation for itself in the sector thanks to its great handling and respectable road manners. Though it cruises with such grace, the 1.5-litre turbocharged engine seems somewhat underpowered when pushed hard.

Although it might be smoother, the 7-speed DCT gearbox swaps gears well, particularly when compared to its competitors.

My decision

With the Beijing X55, BAIC has hit upon a winning formula; it is only when one considers the brand's origins that one realizes how much effort has gone into improving it.

Looking at its reasonable pricing, solid build quality, safety features, and pleasant driving qualities, it is easy to overlook the Beijing X55's shortcomings.

It will be intriguing to observe how it performs in comparison to its competitors on the sales charts, since that is exactly the right amount to entice potential purchasers of crossover SUVs.

Could someone out there, a reputable dealership kindly ship the Beijing X55 to Zimbabwe?

  • andrew@muzamhindo.com.

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