NO, THATâ€™S NOT an old Toyota Yaris wearing the unfortunate scowl of an overly modified hatchback, rather a Chinese reappropriation of the Japanese hatch. The GWM C10 at R134990 seems to represent great value in similar mould to the Yaris Zen – now only available in sedan for a sizeable premium but with fewer features. The C10 hit list includes power steering, ABS (with EBD), aircon, rear park assist, electric windows and mirrors, fog lamps and more. Apart from its Marmite face (you either hate it or love it, most testers fell into the first camp) the rest of its aesthetics are pleasing on the eye, in fact I can see that rear diffuser making its way onto the rear ends of a couple of old gen Yaris. Even the 15 inch alloy wheels fill the arches satisfyingly.
The C10 has a zippy 1.5 VVT powerplant capable of 77kW and 138Nm, more than capable of propelling the 1113kg hatch. Driving it through South Johannesburg however, power delivery felt underwhelming, with constant rowing from its five-speed manual to keep it motivated. Steering worked, well enough but in general it felt too light. The first couple of degrees beyond dead centre does little to turn the front end. You start to feel the electric assistance from 30 degrees or so, at which point it tugs like a magnet, but not to its detriment. Stopping power is derived from discs all round, ventilated upfront.
Hopping inside was a pleasant surprise, none of that expected rough surfaces and finishes, nor the smell of glue (or vinegar, that one time) weâ€™ve experienced on similar Chinese vehicles. We were expecting a Yaris styled centre-mounted gauge set for the driver to share with the upfront passenger but instead you have a traditional position fore of the helm. I know calling the C10 the best Chinese car Iâ€™ve ever driven is firstly, not saying much and secondly largely due to its Japanese cousin (many times removed) but thatâ€™s precisely what it is. Chuck in a 3 year / 100000km warranty, job done.
More on the GWM C10 in Novemberâ€™s TopCar, on sale in October 2012