Going beyond expectations
Text and photos by Eric Tipan
Unlike most nameplates, the word Azkarra doesn’t actually mean anything. Should you have trouble remembering, one minute inside this SUV should be enough to leave a favorable imprint.
This total newcomer has wowed the market in all aspects. That’s quite surprising considering the people’s skepticism when it comes to China-made cars.
As a backgrounder, Geely Auto Group, has been in the business of making cars (and its relevant parts and components) for 23 years. It has leveraged its other owned major auto brands including Volvo (since 2010) and Lotus (since 2017) to enhance and improve its products throughout the years.
The Azkarra is pure proof of that as it is designed by Peter Horbury, Volvo’s vice president of design before becoming the current senior vice president of design for Geely.
The body is superbly shaped. Geely calls its grille design ‘expanding cosmos.’ From the pentagon shape of the logo itself, it seems to radiate outwards with two other pentagons before the main five-sided frame of the grille itself. On either side are full LED headlamps with LED daytime running lamps.
There are several subtle lines on the hood, muscular shoulders in the form of a deep groove over the fender, and a sharp character line along the side. Most inspired is the outline of the daylight opening (side windows) highlighted by a thin chrome strip that kicks out at an angle towards the rear with the blacked-out C-pillar.
Around back is an aggressively shaped spoiler with an integrated stop lamp, combination lamps, dual exhaust tips, and a horizontal branded bar connecting the intricately designed rear. It even comes with a rear undercover garnish.
It uses a fairly large keyfob but its smart system immediately unlocks the doors if you’re withing arm’s length of the car. To lock, simply touch the notch on the front door handles.
The interior gets a fair amount of polished aluminum accents that are very well placed throughout for maximum visual effect. It looks especially nice framing the 12.3-inch infotainment system with 720p resolution before it snakes out and terminates on the passenger front aircon vent. It also has a seven-inch LCD screen in the instrument panel.
Cabin space is very good for a compact crossover, lots of headroom and elbow room, plus it has 378 liters in luggage capacity. Seats are PVC (polyvinyl chloride) leather, which isn’t quite as firm as the original, but bolstered enough for support and cushy enough for comfort.
My two best features would have to be the CN95 cabin filters, which block 95% of all airborne particles, and the huge glass ceiling that Geely calls ‘panoramic starry sky sunroof.’
A Start/Stop button engages the 1.5L three-cylinder turbocharged engine, which allows it to put out 177 HP and 255 Nm of torque. This trim doesn’t have the 48V EMS (Energy Management System, also known as the mild hybrid system) and puts power on the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission.
In spite of what it doesn’t have, this trim performs marvelously. This small displacement engine makes it feel light, fast and responsive even in Eco mode (it has Comfort and Sport as well). Acceleration is quick, making it very agile. It’s perfect for people who expect to draw some excitement and fun from their daily drives. I made an overtaking maneuver on the SLEX and I hit 100 km/h easily without even hearing the engine groan under the pressure.
Combined fuel economy is 9.2 kilometers per liter, which is very good considering this is a compact crossover with considerable ground clearance and a hefty body.
The suspension setup is also very good. It took corners on pretty well and was balanced as I went through a high-speed bend. It kept the cabin calm and quiet with a very high level of insulation versus noise, vibration, and harshness.
At Php 1.438 million, it greatly undercuts a vast majority of crossovers in the market without scrimping on features found in high-end models. This trim even comes with six SRS airbags, has ABS + EBD, Electronic Stability Control, Hill Start Assist, and Hill Descent Control.
The Geely Azkarra may come with a very fancy name, but it more than makes up for it with a host of features, equipment, and amenities that immediately makes it a classy crossover.