It arrived at my home last Monday June 1, 2020, the 1st day of GCQ in the NCR. It was white and my immediate perception was from the side, it looked somewhat like a Range Rover Velar. The stance, the slight bump on the tailgate, the double exhaust system seemed familiar to me. But when I saw the front grille, it was the distinct grille that belongs to a Geely. Altogether the exterior looked great with strong lines that aren’t too aggressive but very classy. The panoramic sunroof was the icing on the cake. From the looks alone, it had its competition beat, at least in my opinion. I’m quite a visual person & truthfully when I see a car for the 1st time it has to excite me for me to continue looking. The Azkarra no doubt grabbed my attention. The 18-inch tires on alloy wheels were a nice finishing touch.
The interior for the mild hybrid version was smooth and oh-so-surprising due to the Napa brown leather properly stitched throughout the interior along with black leather and silver door panel highlights. The look and feel inside was that of a light, European 5-seater SUV. At this point it was pretty clear this vehicle meant business and that the Volvo culture has influenced this particular model. For those unaware, Zhejiang Geely Holding group of China bought Volvo in 2010 which ushered in the brands increase in value & quality.
The dashboard is impressive primarily because of a 12.3-inch HD Central touchscreen to control car settings. Looking down, a rotary drive mode switch can go from economy to sport to comfort and off road by just turning the dial while a triangular electronic gearshift adds aerospace technology for easy driving. Lastly, the trunk space isn’t massive but is adequate and equipped with automatic opening & closing lid.
The Geely Azkarra is a mild hybrid vehicle with a 48V Battery and a belt starter generator (BSG) motor that charges it. This allows the engine to shut down when the car brakes or coasts in order to save fuel, running on electric power for short periods of time. Power is derived from a 1.5liter 3-cylinder turbocharged engine that provides 190 PS and 300 NM of torque. It’s important to note that the luxury variant is a 7-speed transmission all-wheel drive.
I was pretty happy to be one of the 1st to test drive this vehicle specially since it arrived in Manila only 3 days earlier. Since it was GCQ I still wasn’t sure where I could go so I chose to drive within Quezon City only. The initial impression was that this SUV made sure its passengers were comfortable. Ample space both in the front & back, comfortable leather seating, good climate control and just the right height for an SUV are what stands out. Its steering was very light – I believe even lighter than the 2 main competitors in its class, the Honda CRV & the Toyota RAV4 and very responsive to turns. I was able to test the power both on EDSA & White Plains avenue going at 130kph for short spurts and although it didn’t overwhelm, it was impressive nonetheless. Using the Azkarra to climb was also done without difficulty. As I floored the gas pedal, the engine was quick to react as I could feel the torque and power. For sure, a city driver would be happy with the capabilities of this SUV noting that it doesn’t lack the power but is very fuel-efficient. I obviously wasn’t able to test the Azkarra on a long trip as most test-drives go but I would be surprised if this vehicle didn’t pass the long drive test with flying colors. The fuel efficiency, the comfortable ride and the surprising 8-speakers surrounding the interior will all help make a long trip enjoyable.
This Chinese SUV is a big, pleasant surprise and should be a worthwhile “risk” for fans of the more established rival brands. The price – Php 1,598,000 for the Luxury mild hybrid variant is the clinching factor. Go check it out & prepare to be impressed!