What is it?
The Changan CS55 is a five-seat SUV that could fire the first UK export shot from China’s third-biggest car maker.
The CS55 is the newest model in its range of 17 models, and was launched at April’s Shanghai motor show to compete in the fast-growing Chinese compact SUV segment.
About the size of the Ford Kuga, the CS55 sits on an all-new front-wheel-drive platform that will serve as the base for a new saloon, in the first time Changan has developed multiple models off a new architecture.
The styling was developed with input from Changan’s Turin design studio and although to some eyes slightly derivative of Land Rover’s latest models, it seems to have a mostly homogenous look.
Power comes from a four-cylinder 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol with variable valve timing on both inlet and exhaust camshafts. This unit is mated in our test car to a six-speed Aisin Warner automatic gearbox. Maximum power is 154bhp at 5500rpm and peak torque comes at 165lb ft.
The suspension is struts at the front, a multi-link axle at the rear, anti-roll bars front and rear. The steering is electric power and the brakes are vented discs at the front, solid at the rear. A subframe carries the powerpack and front suspension, an engineering detail that usually delivers an extra edge of on-road refinement.
Safety is an issue that Chinese car makers have yet to convince is up to European standards, due to previous models badly failing the European NCAP barrier test, but Changan is keen to correct that impression. The CS55 has been tested to Chinese NCAP standards, which are claimed to be equal to Europe’s, and Changan's safety chief, Hui Zhao, expects a five-star rating.
Shod with Continental Cross-Contact rubber in 225/55 R18 size, made in China to European spec, the CS55 is largely put together from major modules made by European or Japanese suppliers at Chinese local plants.
The challenge, then, is to discover how well Changan’s engineers have put this cocktail of componentry together to make a credible SUV.