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Saturday, July 3, 2021

Review: 2021 Chery Arrizo 5e EV


I drove the future. It doesn’t look it, but the Chery Arrizo 5e could be where cars are headed in the next five to ten years. It’s down to two reasons. First, it’s made by a Chinese brand. While they’re not as recognized as Japanese or European makes right now, everyone knows that they’re the aggressive players in the mobility space. Second, it’s all electric. Powered exclusively by electrons rather than dinosaur juice, it matches the future direction of every single carmaker on the planet.

This makes my time spent with the Arrizo 5e an interesting one. Being the first EV I actually got to live with (Chery lent it for about a week), there’s an air of novelty surrounding it. Will I suffer from range anxiety like I did with past experiences with plug-in hybrids? Will I find it too cold and detached because it doesn’t make any vroom-vroom sounds? Will I actually be able to plug it into my garage without blowing half the house?



Let’s start with: did it blow up half my house? Thankfully, no. My house is still in one piece, and plugging in the Arrizo 5e didn’t trip any circuit breaker. This is the best thing about this EV—it seems built with the Philippines in mind. Perhaps it’s a reflection of how electric vehicles are meant to operate in China, but there was no need for special wall boxes or wirings. It plugs directly into a 220-volt, 5-amp socket. I can’t comment on whether it works with an extension cord because the OE charging cable is long enough. I did, out of precaution, unplug it during one nasty afternoon thunderstorm. Chery says there’s a built-in surge protection, but I treated it the same way I would any large appliance like an air conditioner or fridge.

One peculiar thing about the Arrizo 5e is the location of its charging port. Most would think it’s the one hidden behind the Chery logo on the front bumper. That’s partially true since this is where DC fast chargers (30 minutes from 30 to 80 percent charge) go. Most owners though who’ll rely on conventional household outlets (aka slow chargers, or a full charge in 7 to 9 hours) will juice up using a location commonly associated with gassing up.



On the subject of “gassing up,” the Arrizo 5e uses a 53.6-kwh lithium-ion battery. It’s hard to visualize this figure versus a gasoline engined car’s maximum fuel tank capacity, but in terms of size, it’s between the standard Nissan LEAF (40-kwh) and the extended range LEAF+ (62-kwh). It’s about the same size as the entry-level Tesla Model 3 (54-kwh). Chery Auto Philippines, as indicated by a huge sticker on its rear bumper claims a 350-kilometer range on a full charge. This is pretty modest given its official NEDC or New European Driving Cycle range is 401 kilometers. In my experience, it’s somewhere between the two at around 380-ish.

I say “380-ish” because the Arrizo 5e doesn’t have any indicator of how much battery charge the car has collectively used, nor does it display the percentage of battery charge left (unless you’re plugged in and charging). Instead, it uses an abstract green bar to show the remaining charge as well as the total range left. Not seeing the remaining charge as an absolute number sounds like a recipe for range anxiety, and admittedly it was for the first two days or so. After that, I’ve learned to trust the system, and simply remembered to top up the charge every night as I would my iPhone. Of note, the indicated range stays pretty accurate.



In terms of performance, the Arrizo 5e uses a 90-kw (122 horsepower), 250 Nm permanent magnet synchronous motor or PMSM. Being a compact sedan-sized EV, these figures are comparable to its traditionally-engined counterparts. However, because peak torque is available instantly, it can be mental to drive. Floor the throttle, and it can occasionally cause the 16-inch Giti tires to momentarily break traction before the electronic aids kick in. It’s also quite adept at low to mid-speed overtaking. You can actually embarrass a diesel-fed SUV who thinks they can outmuscle you in a drag race between traffic lights. Using a single-speed gearbox, zero to 50 km/h comes in just 3.8 seconds, though the next 50 km/h bumps that time to around 10 seconds. Top speed is limited to just 152 km/h. After the novelty of the instant torque wears off, it can be quite relaxed. It emits no sound except for the sci-fi-esque high-pitched weeeeee of the electric motor. Sadly, this amplifies all other sounds coming from the suspension—and boy, there are a lot of creaks and odd sounds happening in here.

Handling-wise, the Arrizo 5e is pretty much what you’d come to expect from a commuter car. It doesn’t feel particularly sharp through corners, but it does feel safe and secure. The ride isn’t plush or cossetting, but it manages to soak up the worst of Manila’s roads. Like any other EV or most hybrids for that matter, the brakes do feel artificial, and that’s because the energy is recovered to recharge the battery. The level of energy recycling, as Chery calls it, can be adjusted though using the vehicle’s menu system. At its highest setting, it’s pretty aggressive akin to downshift engine braking.



Chery Auto Philippines has decided to plaster decals all around their Arrizo 5e for good reason: it passes for a run-of-the-mill compact sedan. Instead of going with something much more futuristic with its design, this one sticks to something far more conventional. Don’t get me wrong—the design’s clean and all, but it’s not exactly a standout either. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, early EV adopters do tend to want something a bit sleeker and out-of-this-world; this one doesn’t really give that vibe.

Chery’s decision to eschew a weird or out-of-this world design for the Arrizo 5e does result in traditional values expected in a compact sedan, particularly roominess. The platform may not have been optimized for an EV (for one, there’s a hump in the rear middle floor), but it can still easily fit four adults. The decision to outfit a two-tone black/brown interior is an inspired one because it gives a surprisingly upscale look. However, fit and finish though are run-of-the-mill with soft-touch plastics on the upper dash, and hard plastics on the lower dash.



Ergonomically, the Arrizo 5e has all the basic driving controls setup nicely. However, there are some hiccups. For starters, the layout of the digital gauges is busy. It does present all the pertinent information, but they’re not easily digestible at a glance. Then, there’s the dual-purpose rotary knobs on the center console. It leads to a clean-looking cabin, but because they control both the audio system (volume and tuning) and climate control (fan and temperature), it can get confusing. Finally, there’s the rotary knob gear selector. This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered one, but this is the only one where it can get stuck between gears—Reverse and Neutral or Neutral and Drive.

As more and more carmakers start introducing all-electric vehicles, some of the unique characteristics of the Chery Arrizo 5e may start to wear off. But in the here and now, it shows that the Philippines can indeed be part of the EV revolution. The overall design, handling, and packaging of Chery Auto Philippines’ first EV offering aren’t outstanding, but the fact that it costs just P 1.9-million (it’s the most affordable EV thus far), can be charged using a regular household socket, and offers range good enough for a week’s worth of driving go far in convincing skeptics. If anything, the Chery Arrizo 5e shows what the future of motoring is like, and that we’re actually ready for it.



2021 Chery Arrizo 5e

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Ownership 2021 Chery Arrizo 5e
Year Introduced 2020
Vehicle Classification Compact Sedan
Warranty 5 years / 150,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type Electric Vehicle
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) NA
Aspiration All-Electric
Fuel Delivery NA
Layout / # of Cylinders NA
BHP @ rpm 122
Nm @ rpm 250
Fuel / Min. Octane 53.6 kwh Lithium-Ion Battery
Transmission Single Speed
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 401 kilometer range (NEDC)
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,572
Width (mm) 1,825
Height (mm) 1,496
Wheelbase (mm) 2,670
Curb Weight (kg) 1,580
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Parking Brake Electric w/ Auto Hold
Tires Giti GitiComfort 228 V1 205/55 R 16 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Hill Descent Control
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat No
Sunroof Yes
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Manual
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes, w/ Rear Vent
Audio System Stereo
USB
Bluetooth
Smartphone Connectivity Mirror Link
# of Speakers 4
Steering Controls Yes

1 comment:

  1. Hope there will be more government support and incentives for both EV manufacturers and buyers. In this way, we hope the price will significantly go down 😊👍

    ReplyDelete

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