If there’s one Chinese automaker that will singlehandedly eliminate the stigma that’s attached to vehicles from their nation, that would be Geely. Its current lineup is so well-engineered and well designed, they tend to be free from all the quirks, copycat styling, and poor build quality that are often associated with vehicles from the PRC. As a privately-owned automaker, Geely prides itself in innovation, and that shows with this mid-level 2022 Geely Emgrand Comfort variant.
Exterior: Solid BMA Foundations
As the middle child of the Emgrand lineup, you’d normally expect this compact sedan to be free from all the flair of the top-of-the-line Premium variant. Surprisingly, that isn’t the case here. All of the modern fundamental features such as LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, and even the 17-inch alloy wheels are all there–all at a price tag of just P798,000. This price tag significantly undercuts equivalent rivals like the Honda City 1.5 S CVT and Toyota Vios 1.3 E CVT by as much as P100,000.
Styling-wise, however, it doesn’t have the flair of the Geely Coolray, but it still looks smart and elegantly proportioned nonetheless. At 4.6 meters long, the Geely Emgrand is only a subcompact car in terms of pricing. Dimensionally, it’s already in the same size category as larger compacts such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla Altis. Because of its length, designers have more liberty in designing the Emgrand. The result is a vehicle that looks far more elegant and well-proportioned compared to all of its subcompact rivals.
And yet you might assume that Geely had to cut costs somewhere in order to achieve such aggressive pricing, but that is not the case at all. The Emgrand is riding on the BMA platform that was developed with Volvo’s technical knowledge, and it’s also the same platform that the Coolray is using. The laser-welded platform is very stiff and rigid–so much so that Geely did not even find the need to fit the roof panels of the Emgrand with black rubber seals to hide its unsightly welding spots. The aggressive pricing is mainly thanks to economies of scale. With the ability to produce 30 Emgrands per hour, Geely is able to lower its cost solely because it can produce so many cars in such a short period of time.
Interior: Wait, This Is A Subcompact Car?
Moving inside the Geely Emgrand Comfort, you’ll also be surprised by how many features you get for just P798,000. Smart entry with push-button start, cruise control, reverse camera, an 8-inch touch screen infotainment system, dual SRS airbags, electronic stability control, hill start assist, rear parking sensors, and an electronic parking brake with auto-hold come as standard in this variant. The Premium variant adds blue and white synthetic leather and suede interior, 12.3-inch dot-matrix digital gauges, soft-touch materials on the dash and doors, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and six airbags, but most of these features are stuff you can live without.
Basically, the Comfort variant hits the sweet spot in terms of price and features. What the spec sheet also doesn’t tell you is how much space you get inside. As mentioned, the Emgrand is actually a compact car dimensionally, and as a result, the Geely Emgrand singlehandedly has the most generous rear-seat space in the class. This is also reflected in its trunk space, which is at 500 liters–likewise on the larger end of the subcompact class. Rear-seat passengers even benefit from a single USB port and rear aircon vents.
Driving Experience: Punching Above Its Weight
The driving experience is also a standout in its segment. The Geely Emgrand Comfort variant comes with three driving modes: Eco, Comfort (which is the default setting), and Sport. These three modes merely tweak the throttle response, but whatever mode you’re driving in, the Emgrand feels stable and secure. The larger dimensions pay dividends to its high-speed stability. After all, with a longer wheelbase, the Emgrand is less susceptible to road imperfections since the vehicle will have more time to settle before the road imperfections impact the rear wheels.
The excellent stability and refinement of the Emgrand make it one of the best long-distance cruisers at its price point. No other vehicle in its price bracket offers this level of delicacy when it comes to riding comfort and quietness. Because of this, don’t expect the Geely Emgrand to offer thrills behind the wheel. The 1.5-liter gasoline engine that’s mated to a CVT produces 102 hp and 142 Nm is actually less than the Honda City’s class-leading figures, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story.
On the move, the CVT feels responsive, but when coming from a stop, there’s a slight delay that’s typical of these types of transmissions. As expected from these numbers, the powertrain combination doesn’t encourage you to do any form of spirited driving. However, I was surprised how the 1.5-liter engine manages to carry its size well. At 1,250 kg, the Geely Emgrand Comfort variant is more than 100 kg heavier than the City, but its powertrain surprisingly never felt taxed at hauling its weight. More importantly, fuel economy was even pretty good for its size as it ranged from 10.5 to 11.2 km/l. This was driven mostly on clear traffic, so a proper thorough drive is still definitely needed.
Likewise, that chill and comfortable nature are evident in its handling. The Emgrand’s steering is light and devoid of feedback, but it has decent precision. While body roll is well controlled, the Emgrand’s chassis and suspension tuning doesn’t encourage you to take this car on an autocross. It’s still no Mazda 2 in terms of driving fun, but that’s not what the Emgrand was meant for.
Instead, the Geely Emgrand is for drivers who want to get from A to B in the level of comfort they wouldn’t find in other sedans at its price point. The cossetting and refined driving experience provided by the Emgrand is already comparable to cars from a higher size class, and that’s pretty much what this car is. Since this car is dimensionally on the same level as your Civics and Corollas, Geely’s first sedan in the Philippines in years punches above its weight class. And if Geely manages to also attract fleet buyers that made the Vios so popular in the first place, then we’re confident that the Emgrand will hit mainstream status in no time. Should the best-selling Toyota Vios be worried? Definitely.