The crossover segment has been dominated by the Chinese automakers with the Coolray and the Territory. Those two cars have single-handedly changed the segment by offering quality, performance, and a shedload of standard features.
You’d think that it would be foolish for any brand to waltz in and assume they’d have a chance at the big boys, well one brand begs to differ.
Feast your eyes on the striking Changan CS35 Plus Luxe, and let me tell you why it’s the ‘Dark Horse’ in the segment.
Changan CS35 Plus Luxe Exterior
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Lookswise I can confidently say that the Changan CS35 Plus generates head turns, it manages to look like nothing else on the road but does not look overly styled or out of place. I particularly like that the car is heavy on lines and angles giving it a boxy and rectangular appearance from some angles.
Upfront, it has what Changan calls the ‘Aircraft inspired’ light bar design which honestly looks really good because it’s equipped with LED for the DRLs and headlights, it honestly reminds me of Iron Man’s helmet. From the side, the two-tone color scheme of the Changan CS35 Plus is more apparent, along with some character lines and the modern-looking 18-inch alloy wheels.
The rear lights carry the same design philosophy from the front, it has a lightbar effect that cuts through the whole of the rear section. Not to mention the fact that the rear tailgate is also powered for added convenience.
I have to be honest and say that I’m not really a fan of two-tone interiors, while I am pleased to report that the Changan CS35 Plus Luxe does have leather seats, the red and black ensemble isn’t to my liking. Not saying that it’s off-putting by any means, but I would’ve preferred something more muted.
Again, the fact that the seats are wrapped in leather is a good thing, it adds a more premium feel which matches the whole cabin. Changan didn’t try too hard to over-design the interior as well with just some angles here and there. What is a major plus for me is the lack of piano black panels that in time will be reduced to scratched-up eye sores.
In terms of features, the CS35 Plus has enough to make any driver happy. It has a fully digital instrument cluster that displays all the vehicle information, there are even 3 different style options to choose from just to add more character to the otherwise overlooked instrument panel. The interior is also dominated by the huge panoramic sunroof, that bathes the interior in natural light should you want to sunbathe on the move.
The infotainment screen is a large 10-inch unit that has Bluetooth connectivity features but unfortunately does not have Apple Carplay or Android Auto which for me is a big loss but hey! at least there’s Bluetooth.
The best thing though has to be the 360-degree camera feature, it has one of the best resolution cameras in the market. Also, it has a built-in dash-cam feature that allows you to record a few minutes of driving from all angles, which is a brilliant safety feature, or if you’re married it could be an even more brilliant “spouse-spying” feature.
Another plus has to be the wireless charging pad which is surprisingly still uncommon for most of its competitors, so good on Changan for putting it in the CS35 Plus Luxe.
Engine and Safety
Under the hood is a 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine with 160 PS and 260 Nm of torque, shifting is done via a 7-speed (wet type) dual-clutch transmission.
One of the Changan CS35 Plus Luxe’s highlights has to be its safety features, it has a plethora of them. The highlights are adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking with front collision warning, 6 airbags, and a smart window system.
The most important thing about a crossover is the way it drives, and the Changan CS35 Plus Luxe is a hoot. This car is one of the most eager ones out there, the slightest touch of the throttle surges the CS35 Plus forward. It needs very little effort to get going, it wafts along the road as if there’s no such thing as wind or physics, it’s like a dog chasing after a bone or a ball.
In the handling department it feels sorted, the suspension is stiff enough to eliminate too much body roll during hard cornering and the steering is very direct and easy to anticipate. You can feel that the CS35 Plus Luxe was made to have a more sporty feel, it really shows whether in the city or on the open road.
It also really helps that it has adaptive cruise control, despite it being a budget-friendly crossover the system works really well.
Lastly, fuel economy-wise the CS35 Plus Luxe’s performance isn’t so bad. In the city, I was able to do 10km/l, and out on the highway, It went as high as 15.5km/l.
If you’re the type of person who enjoys driving, the CS35 Plus Luxe has you covered in that department. It’s more than capable of being sedate when needed, but also feral when you feel like putting your foot down.
Points for improvement
My main criticism of the Changan CS35 Plus Luxe is a peculiar one, the car’s infotainment and digital cluster suffer from wrong grammar and capitalization. While my complaint may seem trivial, unfortunately in the CS35 Plus Luxe it’s noticeable. I hope that this is only isolated to the lend-out unit we had, and customers have upgraded language software, but if not, Changan should address that soon.
Next up is the lack of Apple Carplay and Android Auto, It’s really something most car buyers look for nowadays and it’s glaring that the Changan CS35 Plus Luxe has neither.
Price and Verdict
The Changan CS35 Plus Luxe comes in at a very affordable PHP 1,169,000 which is PHP 100,000 less than the equivalent Coolray and PHP 141,000 more affordable than the equivalent Territory.
Does it feel and perform much less than both? No. The Changan CS35 Plus Luxe is just as good, and in my opinion better in some ways. it’s worthy of consideration not just because it’s more affordable, it can walk the talk all day long.