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BAIC X35: China SUV in the driving report

The BAIC X35 in the driving report. The compact SUV from China starts in the second model generation at a price of 18,490 euros. How good is the remake?

The Chinese brand BAIC has also been represented on the German market for several years. The entry-level model X35, a compact SUV in the competitive segment around Renault Captur, Ford Puma and Co., is now being launched in a new model generation.

The network of the German importer Indimo Automotive includes around 180 dealers. With the BAIC X35, they primarily court customers who are also interested in the Dacia Duster or the MG ZS, which also comes from China and has also been available as a combustion engine for a few months. The DFSK Fengon 500 also plays a role on the shopping list. This Chinese is comparable in size and price to the BAIC X35 and is also usually available from the same dealer - the DFSK brand is also imported by Indimo Automotive.

Back to the X35. The 4.33 meter long five-door is pleasing, but not too modern. The only eye-catcher is the large radiator grille at the front, which is framed by a matt silver bar. LED daytime running lights shine at the corners of the bumper. The lettering "Beijing" (English for Beijing, the Chinese capital) catches the eye on a decorative strip under the partially glazed C-pillar. Under this name, the state-owned company BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation) markets models such as the X35 and the larger X55 in Tiguan format.

A 376 liter trunk is available behind the tailgate. What is loaded here must first be balanced over a fairly high sill. If both backrest parts of the rear seat bench are folded down, a 1,606 liter load compartment is available. Unfortunately, you can only use it to a limited extent for bulky things because a high level is created. With a double loading floor, both this problem and that of the high inner loading sill could be avoided. A trailer hitch can be a valuable service on the way from the furniture store or to the recycling center. The X35 can take 1,200 kilograms on the hook.

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The interior of the Chinese is very spacious. In the rear, even tall passengers have enough space for their knees and head. In addition, the seat height without strongly angled legs and the pleasant-to-grip fabric covers are pleasing. They also decorate the front seats. Here, in contrast to the rear seat bench, the headrests can be pulled out high enough. The seat and backrest also offer good lateral support. In the long run, however, the rigid cheeks could press into the buttocks of wider people. Unfortunately, the steering wheel can only be adjusted in height, but not in width. With the driver's seat locked far back, you have to sit behind the valance with your arms almost outstretched because the very short foot space does not allow any other longitudinal position.

The analogue instruments stand out positively because they are crystal clear to read.Together with a monochrome display in the middle for the on-board computer information, they provide the driver with all relevant information without frills.

Good operating structure, no driving assistants

On the center console, an infotainment display makes its touchscreen available. You don't have to worry about a menu labyrinth, because there simply aren't enough functions for that. Music, podcasts and the like can be listened to via a storage medium connected via USB, via the Bluetooth connection to a smartphone or on the radio. There are no options for mirroring the phone's content via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Baidu Car Life, the "Chinese CarPlay" is on board, but useless in this country.

There are no setting options for driving assistants. Why? Because there are no driving assistants in the BAIC X35. Parking sensors at the rear must be enough to help. Lane keeping function or adaptive cruise control are not offered, even a rain sensor is missing. The manual air conditioning can either be operated via icons on the display, some of which are quite small, or via smartly made and understandable controls half a floor below. Toggle switches for temperature and ventilation intensity frame touch-sensitive fields for individual climate functions.

The materials used on the cockpit and in the door panels and the workmanship in the interior of the BAI X35 give no reason for criticism. Even while driving, nothing rattles or crunches in the beams.

Living turbo petrol engine with thirst

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Which brings us to the middle of the driving report on the China SUV. The 1.5 liter four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine delivers 85 kW /115 hp and develops a maximum torque of 210 Newton meters. They are managed by a manual six-speed gearbox, which is a joy to operate thanks to short distances and clearly defined lanes.

The X35 does not become a temperamental bolt, but shows a much more agile acceleration behavior than the DFSK Fengon 500 with naturally aspirated engine mentioned at the beginning. At higher speeds, for example when accelerating, the motor in the BAIC gets quite loud. After all, it drowns out the ever-present wind noise on the A-pillars and the exterior mirrors. The relaxed gait suits the compact high seat better. So you have time to concentrate on the successful chassis tuning. The X35 swallows long waves without annoying after-swing, but at the same time it also copes well with transverse joints or asphalt patches. The steering, which gives sufficient feedback, is also pleasing.

At night, the slightly patchy light cone of the LED headlights is noticeable. The high beam function does not bring any improvement, especially since it subjectively increases the headlight range only marginally.

You can get further than the end of the illuminated area with a full tank of fuel, even though the fuel tank only holds a manageable 46 liters.In our test drives, we were able to achieve fuel consumption of 7.5 liters per 100 kilometers with the non-hybridized combustion engine, i.e. a range of around 600 kilometers.

Beyond the country road speed or with a more dynamic driving style, the thirst of the one-five under the hood increases sharply. This also explains the heavy WLTP standard consumption of 8.7 liters per 100 kilometers. Because this value means CO₂ emissions of 198 grams per kilometer (according to WLTP), the vehicle tax for the BAIC X35 is no bargain.

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Does that apply to the car itself? The X35 costs 18,490 euros. There are four colors to choose from, and there are no extras – apart from the accessory trailer hitch. At the listed price, the Chinese comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, an audio system and parking sensors at the rear. Not lavish, but useful and suitable for everyday use.

The DFSK Fengon 500 costs less at 17,500 euros. The savings are bought in a direct comparison of the two Chinese from the same import house with a more sluggish and thirsty engine and less good handling.

The MG ZS with 106 hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder is available for 17,990 euros and then also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All three Chinese are outbid by the price of the Dacia Duster. In the Expression equipment line, the Romanian brings air conditioning, parking assistance at the rear and cruise control. As a 90 hp petrol engine, the Duster then costs 16,800 euros, with 130 hp 18,600 euros. In addition, the Duster should have a significantly higher resale value, which further reduces costs over the car's ownership period.

Conclusion

The BAIC X35 from China is a compact SUV with plenty of space in the well-made interior and high driving comfort. If you want to master everyday life without racing driver airs, you can also get along well with the sufficiently powerful drive. The price of 18,490 euros is cheap at first glance. However, if you compare important competitors, the X35 is no longer a real bargain. After all: From 2023 you can get it with a new car warranty that has been extended from two to three years.

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