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China Test Drives 2019: Dongfeng Fengon ix5

Dongfeng Fengon ix5 in Kunming

We continue on our Chinese dealership test drives with the Dongfeng Fengon ix5, previously Fengguang and aka Glory outside of China. This is Dongfeng’s first coupe SUV, a red hot format in China at the moment that seems to be the perfect blend of SUV high ride and coupe sportiness. Or is it? It’s the first time in my view that Dongfeng releases a model that does have a certain sexiness, and could mark the start of a novel design direction for the brand. I wanted to see whether all that appearance was accompanied by any substance. The model I tested is the 280 TGDI priced at 129.800 yuan (16.750€ or US$18.870), already a hefty sum for a Chinese SUV.

For this price however, the interior equipment doesn’t disappoint and is full of driving aids you would expect from foreign counterparts double the price. The car’s AI assistant responds to a “Ni hao Dongfeng” (Hello Dongfeng) to action a list of demands going from increasing the air con, opening the windows or navigating to a specific location (see video above).

Dongfeng Fengon ix5 interior

The excessive amount of different surfaces and patterns inside can bewilder a Westerner (see first image above) but they fit Chinese tastes and can’t be faulted on quality: sewn details abound and hard plastics are totally absent from the visible cockpit, relegated to the sides of the seats. Talking of which, the driver seat is fully electric (2nd image above). Keyless start and a very modern and classy gearshift complete an interior presentation extremely impressive indeed, keeping in mind we’re talking about a price point equivalent to the Dacia Duster in Europe…

Dongfeng Fengon ix5 digital screens

Dongfeng has also clearly splashed out on digital screens with no less than three large digital tablets: one above the steering wheel replicating GPS navigation if needed (first image above), the main touch screen on the central column showing extremely precise rear and above view cameras  (2nd image) but also acting as a constant dashcam for insurance purposes (3rd image), and a third one located lower that houses the air con commands.

Dongfeng Fengon ix5 boot and electric opening/closing commands

The boot, surprisingly spacious for this type of silhouette, can be opened and closed straight from the driver’s seat without the need to step out, with multiple commands at the rear of the vehicle for both opening and closing (see 2nd and 3rd images above). Now let’s drive it…

Impressive inside, the Fengon ix5 is a disappointing drive.

And once again after the Jetour X70, the driving experience comes crashing down once you start accelerating. Even when the Sport Drive mode is activated (which by the way doesn’t trigger any palpable difference), the car’s acceleration is delayed by an excruciatingly long lag and, when finally here, remains extremely mushy. Worse: when testing abrupt left and right turns, the car’s rear wobbles somewhat dangerously in an experience that was all but reassuring. The ix5 doesn’t feel safe when pushed hard, certainly doesn’t demonstrate any sporty abilities and ends up being mostly appearance, no substance.

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