When I was first offered the Landwind 5 to test drive I was a little nervous to be honest. Excited, but a tad nervous because the truth is, I have not had the best of experiences in Chinese built cars. I have also been one of the many journos who were up in arms when the news of a “copy-cat” Evoque broke out and all accusing fingers pointed at JMC, the auto-maker of the Landwind I was about to test. After discussing my concerns with Nicolene Breitenbach, Marketing Coordinator at JMC I felt I was in a better position to commit to driving the Landwind 5 and to keeping an open mind to what it would offer during the week long test period. Just to be clear the Landwind 5 is not the look-a-like Evoque.
Eventually the Landwind arrived and as I gingerly inspected it a familiar feeling of trepidation crept up once more but it was too late to turn tail; I would have to remain impartial when driving the Landwind the following day and give a fair account of my experience. Now that I have driven it, I must say that on the whole, I was pleasantly surprised; not only by the SUV’s performance but also by the comments I received from the general public wherever I parked it. Here are a 5-things I ♥ about the Landwind 5.
- I ♥ the price point… Ordinarily I would save the price till last but R289 880 for a spacious family SUV cannot be ignored. For the same price, one could buy a Nissan Juke, Ford Ecosport or Renault Duster which are nowhere near as large as the Landwind 5. And let’s not ignore the fact that sometimes being able to get from point A to B supersedes the brand in which you do so – just ask anyone who has to queue for hours to catch 2 or more taxis to get home on a chilly winter’s morning, #JustSaying. By the way, the R289 880 includes a 3 year/100 000 km warranty and a 2 year/60 000km service plan – including 24 hour road side assistance – not too shabby right?
2. I ♥ it’s good looking exterior……The Landwind’s smooth and slick exterior became the subject of many debates with complete strangers during the entire test period I had it for. Some argued that it looked like a Subaru XV, others felt the logo had been inspired by the Lexus brand whilst others managed to pick up design cues from the BMW X5, Hyundai ix35 and Toyota Rav! Indeed the Landwind 5 does not look like anything on the market which gives a rather refreshing appeal to it – after all, who wants to look like everyone else? That said, no one could argue that the Landwind has road presence but without looking aggressive or bulky even though it has a long nose, wide stance and mean-looking angled headlamps.
3. I ♥ it’s impressive interior… The Landwind 5 is an unapologetically large SUV and it’s interior offers generous amounts of space for passengers, luggage, the family Alsatian and even the kitchen sink! Although JMC have not gone all-out in their choice of materials for the interior of the Landwind 5, it’s designers have managed to come up with a pleasingly stylish arrangement which incorporates a fair use of black piano touches giving the Landwind 5 a modern finish and dare I say, a bit of class.
Generally, my anxiety about Chinese built vehicles is that the interior handiwork leaves much to be desired and I fully expected to find skew stitching if not a loose thread or two and panels which didn’t line up insidise the Landwind 5. Fortunately there was none of that. That said, I did struggle (for the entire test period) with finding a comfortable seating position as the seat is not height adjustable and well…. shorties such as myself will find that a bit problematic as you can well imagine. Then of course there was the issue of the all too familiar “Chinese-car-smell” which knocks you on the nose the moment you enter the car. I don’t know if it is the material used in the upholstery or if it is glue, but all Chinese made cars have the same nauseating smell. Sadly the Landwind 5 was no different. Asides that, I was particularly impressed with the reclining rear seats – a welcome and surprising feature most commonly found in high-end vehicles.
4. I ♥ it’s dynamic drivability…..Whilst I may be willing to forgive a few things about a car, the one thing I am a sergeant major about is power and performance. I had no idea what JMC might have tucked away under the bonnet but I had my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t be lawnmower with a turbo but rather something substantial and meaty; and I wasn’t disappointed – not at all!
Powered by a confident 6-speed 2.0L turbo engine (from Mitsubishi) which produces 140kW and 240Nm of torque, the Landwind 5 showed me and other cars on the road that it is no slouch. Responsive and energetic the engine delivers power with only a hint of turbo lag but one thing I was not prepared for however was the s-p-e-e-d. The Landwind 5 reminded me of Tyler Perry’s movie character Madea – big but light on its feet! I wasn’t too thrilled with the gear shift quality though – it felt a bit like cracking knuckles at first but I eventually got the hang of it and it was smooth sailing from there.
5. I ♥ all the creature comforts & standard safety stuff…. While the Landwind does not pretend to be anything other than a basic and straight-forward SUV, it does offer plenty of standard equipment such as a full equipped audio system including USB connectivity, air-con, dual air-bags, ABS with EBD braking, high-mounted LED brake light, child-safety-rear door locks, an anti-theft security system, electric windows, rain wipers with intermittent settings and park distance control. It does not have a multi-functional steering wheel which took a bit of getting used to but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker either.
Overall….the Landwind 5 is not a bad car at all. My initial thoughts were unfounded and I was pleasantly surprised by it. In order to fully appreciate it, one must look at the Landwind 5 in the context of a family which is entering the market and requires value for money on all fronts. At R289 880 it compares well against the GWH H5 and Mahindra XUV500. The Landwind 5 is not a pretentious offering and although it does not carry the same clout, brand trust and swag most of its competitors have, I believe there is space for it on the South African market.