There is a not-so-honorable tradition in China of blatantly copying the automotive designs of other manufacturers. In the past, for every Suzuki, Honda or Toyota produced, there was an embarrassingly similar Chinese equivalent. Though the Chery A3 is not exactly awe-inspiring to look at, with the help of Pininfarina, hopefully knock-off car designing is a thing of the past.
In terms of the compact sedan segment in which it is slotted, the A3 is considered to be a major upgrade from previous offerings from China. The arrival of the A3 hasn’t been without delaysthat were the result of Chery’s committment to ensure that the A3 would be both a unique design and also capable mechanically. To demonstrate the car’s durability, the A3 was run for 66 days straight days beginning in June without problems to simulate 100,000 km worth of driving. Chery President Yin Tongyao states, “We have repeatedly postponed the launch date to test the car’s performance and improve its quality, and thus to give it a better starting point.” This continuous test of the Chery A3 before its sale to the public is a first for a new car in China and was a prelude to other “firsts” including the first brand to offer a 4-year or 120,000-kilometer warrany and an upgrade of safety features that give the Chery A3 a five-star auto safety standard.
With the mechanics and safety sufficiently proven, Chery turned to famed Italian designers Pininfarina for help in the conception of the vehicle’s body (available in five different colors) that would be competitive to those of Ford, Nissan and Hyundai, which the A3 certainly is. Interestingly, because of the emerging middle class and economy of China, almost 30 percent of all Pininfarina contracts are for projects in Asia. Inside, the cabin is logically laid out and solidly constructed, albeit a bit utilitarian, in gray and silver colors. While reliable, the powerplant of the compact is merely sufficient. The A3’s 1.6 liter engine produces a modest 86 horsepower and has a top speed 115 mph when mated to a 5 speed manual transmission. An automatic version as well as a hatchback configured model are expected to also be produced in the next year. The price for the A3 is 81,800 yuan or the equivalent of $11,990. All in all, a step forward for Chinese automaking.