"China-cracker"? That was once. Middle-of-the-range cars have now reached western levels. This showed test drives with the BYD Tang on the Nürburgring.
Whether toy doll, fairy lights or winter jacket, on the label is usually the same note: "Made in China". This is usually associated with "cheap". Even Chinese cars stuck to this image for a long time. Mention here only the Jiangling Landwind. Before 13 years, the SUV proved literally as a "China Kracher" due to its miserable crash behavior.
But those who have been able to get an idea of the progress of the Chinese car industry at the trade fairs in Beijing and Shanghai in recent years will see that design and quality have improved enormously and are now reaching Western standards. Heavy pirate copies are practically non-existent. And something else has boosted the quality of Chinese cars: the know-how of well-known development executives, managers and designers of German premium brands who have quit their local employers and chosen China as another career destination.
Like Wolfgang Egger. The former Audi-Designer is responsible for the appearance of the BYD Tang, a seven-seater SUV, and at the same time the flagship of the brand. BYD has attracted attention especially with electric cars (New Energy Vehicle, NEV). With Mercedes there is a joint venture. The Stuttgart sell via BYD in China, the E-car Denza. In Europe, BYD already has its foot in the door with electric busses. Forklift and vice are to follow. And maybe someday cars.
How it stands for their quality, showed recently at the Nürburgring, the BYD with two of the latest Tang SUVs undertook. The legendary Nordschleife in the Eifel is considered the most demanding race track worldwide, weaknesses are relentlessly revealed. However, the BYD Tang proved to be very solid, convincing with a harmonious chassis tuning, good comfort, low wind and rolling noise, precise steering and very good brakes. She buys BYD from the renowned Italian manufacturer Brembo. Responsible for the entire chassis is Heinz Keck, a former chassis developer from Mercedes.
Driving pleasure is provided by the abbreviation DM (Dual Mode). It refers to the combination of two-liter turbo gasoline engine and two electric motors. The Tang is a plug-in hybrid. BYD claims a system performance of 530 PS and lush 950 Newtonmeter torque, making this model one of the most powerful SUVs. 200 PS come from the combustion engine, 150 from the front and 180 PS from the rear electric machine. Only 4,5 seconds should pass from zero to 100 km / h for the sprint. That's Porsche level.
On the other hand, Tang can also be very quiet and emission-free. In E-mode, which can be activated via a switch on the center console, up to 80 kilometers of electrical range should be possible. BYD even offers an even bigger battery for the Tang. It bunker power for 100 kilometers.
It was interesting to observe how many recreational racing drivers reacted to the China SUV at the Nürburgring. Guys who usually only have eyes for wide tires, thick tailpipes and large rear spoilers. "Cool design" was one of the most frequent comments, which usually meant the C-pillar window graphics open to the rear, a detailAudiStylist Wolfgang Egger wants to set Tang apart from its Western counterparts. Less individual, however, is the front, called by BYD "Dragon Face". She was called "upside down Audi-Grill "perceived.
How fast China learns, also shows the interior. In the cockpit, the first look provides a familiar look, tidy layout, virtual instruments, a few physical switches and a laptop-sized, free-running screen (14,6 inches). Because BYD thinks that a landscape display is easier to use, but a vertically positioned one can read better, it only takes a tap and the screen rotates into the vertical position. The workmanship is solid, decor elements are neatly fitted, the surfaces look pleasant, contrasting double seams to provide a bit premium atmosphere. In a Kia Sorento or Toyota Land Cruiser it does not look high quality. The seats are sourced from Faurecia's BYD, with electronics from Bosch, Continental and Siemens.
Thus, in terms of safety, the Tang, at least as far as the assistance systems are concerned, is also at the level of Western competition. Things like distance radar, reversing camera, tracking, blind spot warning and emergency braking are standard on board. In the crash behavior one wants to meet international standards, it is called from the company headquarters in China.
The basic version of the Tang is called Zhilianchuangyue and costs 239.900 Yuan, the equivalent of around 32.000 Euro. For the fully equipped top model Zhilianchuangshi BYD demands about 44.000 Euro. This may be a bargain for us, but in China it is an upscale price range. But what can an increasingly better middle class in the Middle Kingdom afford? Since its launch in the summer of this year, BYD has sold over 88.000 units. In November, the Tang DM already ranks number one in the "New Energy SUVs".
Michael Specht / SP-X