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China Test Drives 2019: Dongfeng Aeolus AX7

Dongfeng Aeolus AX7 in Dali, Yunnan.

We continue on our series of Chinese dealership test drives with the second Dongfeng this year, this time from the Aeolus sub-brand, a Westernised name for the Chinese label Fengshen. Note that it may as well be a different brand altogether so much so Dongfeng’s different subsidiaries function like separate entities in China. The AX7 was the carmaker’s first SUV back in 2014 and a 2nd generation launched in China in September 2018, this is the one we are test driving today.

The Dongfeng Aeolus AX7 from all angles.

More specifically, I am testing the 260T variant powered by a 167hp 1.6 engine and priced at 119.800 yuan, that’s 15.400€ or US$17.400. If the first generation AX7 looked like a bad Honda CR-V clone, this new model has a design of its own and it’s actually quite pleasant, mixing sharp lines, adequately complicated headlight designs and a robust appearance help by a high ground clearance, a typically Chinese characteristic. There are also some very nice premium touches such as the indicators lighting up progressively the same way Audi does (see video above).

Spacious boot and rear seats.

Step inside and the first impression is one of space. Both from the driver’s seat, the rear seats and the very large and easily accessible flat boot. So far, so very good.

Quality materials and commands inside the Dongfeng Aeolus AX7

Look closer and Dongfeng clearly hasn’t held back on materials quality inside the AX7 with the middle central console composed of a very nice grey pattern easy to the touch (1st image above). It is also reproduced on the door sides next to the handle (2nd image) which, alongside the aluminium right-side “handle” on the console (4th image), bring a refined ambiance to the cockpit, even though the rest of the materials, while not being cheap, aren’t that exceptional either. Keyless contact, a modern gearshift, electric seats and not one but two USB ports are the other elements that bring a smile to my face.

Touch screen and electric seats in the Aeolus AX7

The touch screen is larger than most cars nowadays with all controls on the screen. The rest of the commands on the central console are for the driving modes (Snow mode is available) and the air con. If the Dongfeng Fengon ix5 disappointed with its sluggishness, it’s the opposite with the AX7 which turns out to me one of the most aggressive Chinese vehicles I’ve driven so far. The sales guy took it to way past the city speed limits straight away which instantly made it the most dynamic test drive this year. The car definitely has true fire power in its Chinese dragon lungs and it’s nice to finally see that not all Chinese vehicles are short-breathed, even though there was a bit of wiggle room in the rear when inflicted my abrupt left and right turns. Definitely some progress from Dongfeng here.

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