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by Tim Beissmann

Chery Motors has launched in Australia, with the Chery J1 light hatch joining the Chery J11 compact SUV as the initial offerings from the cut-price Chinese manufacturer.

The J1 hatch has joined the Proton S16 and the WA-only Geely MK as the cheapest vehicle available in Australia, with all three priced from $11,990 driveaway.

The J1 or the J11 are available in every state except Victoria, as they are not equipped with electronic stability control and do not offer it as an option.

Daniel Cotterill from Chery’s Australian distributor, Ateco Automotive, said the brand applied for an exemption from VicRoads, but was knocked back, meaning 15 additional dealers and 115 jobs were put on hold.

“We are planning to launch another vehicle, the J3, around mid-year which will come with ESC as standard, and we plan to have our entire range equipped with stability control to meet local regulations as soon as we can,” Mr Cotterill said.

ESC will be mandatory in all new passenger vehicles in all Australian states from November 2011.

The five-door hatch is only available with a five-speed manual transmission and front-wheel drive. It is powered by a 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine with 62kW of power and 122Nm of torque.

Combined cycle fuel consumption is a reasonable 6.7 litres/100km from the petrol engine.

The J1 is 3700mm long, 1578mm wide, 1564mm tall and has a total kerb weight of 1040kg – making it similar in size to the Nissan Micra.

Underneath, it features ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), disc brakes at the front and drums at the rear. The front features MacPherson strut independent suspension while there is a semi-independent trailing arm with track bar set-up at the rear.

Standard equipment includes 14-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, two front airbags, six-speaker CD player, air-conditioning, five cloth seats, electric windows and side mirrors and a rear windscreen wiper.

Optional features include floor mats, reversing sensors, Bluetooth connectivity and headlight covers. There is no option of adding more airbags.

The Chery J1 is covered by a three-year/100,000km warranty including 24-hour roadside assistance. Along with the J11, the 2011 Chery J1 goes on sale from 45 Chery dealers around Australia on March 1.




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