If you’ve just come out from under a rock, you might be surprised to learn that Chinese carmakers now sell cars in Europe and South America, not to mention many parts of Asia. Their cheap price-of-entry and simple design makes them desirable in developing regions where purse strings are tight. Unfortunately, they have not made much headway in more affluent countries like the United States, where spotty safety equipment/design and dismal emissions have kept the Chinese in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Then, in a shocking move at the height of a world-wide recession, a small Taiwanese auto-maker and -importer launched the Luxgen brand. Recently, Luxgen caught my eye with their new Luxgen5 sedan – perhaps the first Asian car that I would buy (outside of Japanese and Korean automakers). Why? Read on to find out!
At first glance, the Luxgen5 isn’t very revolutionary. By American standards, it is an oddly sized vehicle, slotting between Corolla and Camry, Civic and Accord. The turbocharged 4-cylinder engines are available in 1.8L and 2.0L variants, producing 150HP and 170HP, respectively. The smaller engine uses a 5-speed auto, where the bigger 2.0 has a 6-speed. Both are supplied by world-renowned transmission maker Aisin. Even the price falls in between a mid-range Corolla and a base model Camry in the Taiwanese market. All very average specs, by any measure.
Of course, as Toyota will tell you about their new GT-86/FR-S/BRZ, mechanical specs on paper do not a good car make. It’s all in the details, and in this case, it’s in the luxury features of the vehicle. Upscale touches such as standard alloys, LED lights on the front end, and atypically restrained styling make a case for you to look closer. If you make your way inside, you’ll find continuity in the restraint – no crazy, swooping dashboards or bright colors. A multi-colored dash breaks up the monotony, and a Porsche-like center stack is simple yet striking. The seats invite you to cuddle with them and their cozy, wrap-around headrests.
Of course, by the time you got around to all those details, you’ll surely have noticed all the technology features integrated into the vehicle. A standard 9″ LCD touchscreen houses the brain for Luxgen’s THINK+ Touch system. Collaborating with Taiwan’s premier handset maker HTC ensures that this vehicle will always be connected to the latest usability apps. The advantage to this is that instead of spending $200 every year to upgrade your $2000 in-car GPS, the data will automatically be updated every time your phone updates – for free! Premium, up to date features for almost no cost – now that’s my idea of innovation! Of course, Facebook and email integration is a given, and future proofing is not an issue, as it will work with any Android system to date.
If that doesn’t wow you, just think about how many other cars have a full LCD display instead of an analog speedometer, with a similar Heads-Up Display right above that? I’ll bet that your typical CamCord won’t have Night Vision technology, nor a system similar to Infiniti’s Around View technology (showing an image of the ground all the way around your vehicle). I’ve never driven a Civic with Blind Spot Monitoring System, and surely none of them have lane departure warning system as standard kit. And, to keep the driver from being distracted by kids, the rear seat is given a heated and cooled cupholder, so Junior will have a nice cold cup of boba to sip on after his soccer game.
As I researched this vehicle more and more, it occurred to me that what started out sounding like a fairly average vehicle suddenly turned into a game changer. It is actually well positioned for affluent young adults who wanted more than a lowly Corolla, but weren’t ready to move up into the managerial-transport realm that the Camry and Accord occupy in Asia. This is a vehicle that is within their price range, with features they want, that will stay updated everytime they get a new phone, and all for a very reasonable price. At the same time, it is a vehicle that wouldn’t attract unwanted attention, not unlike the SEAT Exeo! I truly hope that Yulon has every intention to bring this vehicle to the Americas, as I wouldn’t mind buying one for the right price.