Editor: Jason “The Bok” Date 13 October 2021

Pronounced “Bike,” BAIC is China’s fifth-largest automotive brand and is no stranger to building vehicles that are both capable and affordable. With the Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Company’s impressive R11-Billion rand plant already established and producing the X25 and D20 compact hatchbacks here in Mzansi, we were extremely excited to meet their latest entrant into the South African market space, the unique, very capable and well-priced B40 Plus.

What is it?

On the outside it closely resembles a lot of the off-road presence and charm we get from the likes of a Wrangler Jeep, while on the inside and owing to the brand’s stake in Mercedes-Benz, we see a very interesting blend of materials and an almost Mercedes-Benz feeling interior cabin space. The blend makes for a culmination of rugged lifestyle fun with inner-city creature comforts and style.

The vehicle is available with either a turbopetrol or turbodiesel powerplant and as a 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission. At this stage the automatic transmission is reserved for the turbopetrol motor, however, we believe it will later feature in the diesel-driven model too. Power delivery comes in terms of 2,0-litre four-cylinder offering with a power output of 160 kW and 320 N.m of torque for the petrol and 110 kW and 350 N.m for the diesel variant.

The interior is made up of an interesting yet practical blend of materials including some switchgear such as the stop starter button and aviation-inspired BAIC logo air vents mimicking that of a Mercedes interior space. Taking centre stage within the dashboard is also a high-definition touchscreen display with all major media sources and a reversing camera present. The instrumentation cluster is digital and offers an impressive and large visual experience.

With 210mm of ground clearance, proper 4×4 ability thanks to an array of drive modes including 2H, 4H and 4L, as well as impressive approach and departure angles and wheel articulation, it’s clear that the B40 Plus is made to be as capable as it looks.

There are three separate trim levels available and pricing starts from R549,500 and goes upto R629,500. All B40 Plus models are sold with a 5-year/120 000 km warranty and service plan options are available. Service intervals are 15 000 km/12 months for both the petrol and Diesel models.

* B40 Plus City Hunter Diesel

* B40 Plus City Hunter Petrol

* B40 Plus Champion Petrol

In Conclusion

As South African’s we tend to be extremely brand loyal, however, I do belive that the modern motoring perceptions are developing and discovering new and impressive offerings is becoming more accessible. If our experience behind the wheel both on and off-road in the BAIC B40 Plus is anything to go off and with its seriously competitive pricing, it looks like the Chinese automotive giant might just be carving some new trails within our motoring landscape.

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