BYD Han to Geely Tugella: 10 Chinese cars worth buying

Many China marques represent as good or even better value than their Asian or western rivals

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Until a decade ago, Chinese vehicles were – almost without exception – mediocre. It’s a sign of how fast the expansive nation has adapted and advanced that the cars it now produces represent, in many cases, as good or even better value than their European / Japanese / Korean / American rivals.

The numbers tell the story, as China exported more than five million vehicles last year, toppling Japan to become the biggest car exporter in the world for the first time.

The threat China poses to manufacturers elsewhere hasn’t been lost on the senior management of car companies, especially as the industry shifts rapidly towards electrification, for which the country is well placed to tackle global heavyweights.

“My number one competitor is Chinese carmakers,” says Carlos Tavares, chief executive of multinational car company Stellantis, which encompasses 14 auto brands – including Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Peugeot, Citroen, Opel and Maserati.

“This is going to be a big fight. There is no other way for a global carmaker like Stellantis that is operating all over the world than to go head-on with the Chinese carmakers. There is no other way.”

There’s no great secret to the growing success of Chinese carmakers – the key lies in the manufacturers’ ability to release wave after wave of internationally competitive new models at record pace.

Brands have also found ways to produce EVs economically and efficiently, unlike many other global carmakers – including GM, Ford, Audi and Mercedes – that recently announced cutbacks to their EV production plans. It’s also interesting to note that China’s BYD has now eclipsed Tesla as the world’s largest purveyor of electric vehicles.

The growing number of Chinese vehicles on UAE roads is plain to see, providing proof that local motorists no longer view them as substandard bargain-basement products.

Here are 10 Chinese offerings worthy of consideration, should you be in the market for a new vehicle.


Sharing more than a passing resemblance to the Toyota Prado, the BJ60’s commonality with the latter extends further as it, too, is a rugged body-on-frame SUV with an off-road armoury that includes a trio of differential locks and low-range gearing. You get plenty of metal and mod-cons for your Dh170k spend as the BAIC has three-row seating and an array of gadgets. Propulsion comes from a mild hybrid 267hp 2.0-litre turbo motor mated to an eight-speed auto.


We’ll steer clear of Star Wars x Han Solo references, even though the BYD Han sedan has the time-warping pace to match its swoopy styling. Powered by a pair of electric motors that push out a combined 517hp, the BYD scorches from 0-100kph in a claimed 3.9 seconds. Touring range on a full charge is quoted at 521km. Priced from Dh232k, the Han is loaded with goodies and is backed by an eight-year/160,000km battery warranty.

Changan CS75 Plus

The sharply sculpted CS75 Plus is positioned in the cut-throat compact SUV segment, with a competitive starting price just under Dh132k. Propulsion comes from a 233hp 2.0-litre turbo motor, hooked up to an eight-speed auto. The Changan is offered solely in 2WD guise, so it’s pitched purely as an urban warrior. Equipped with leather seats, a panoramic sunroof and lots more, the CS75 Plus appears strong value for money.

GAC GS3 Emzoom

The sharp-edged GS3 Emzoom is a stylishly packaged compact crossover from China, and it seems an attractive proposition at a starting price of Dh93k. It’s powered by 174hp/240Nm 1.5-litre turbo engine, sending drive to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. Standard kit includes a fully digitised instrument cluster paired with a 10.25-inch infotainment system with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay. Leather trim and a panoramic sunroof are also on the menu.

Geely Tugella

The Tugella represents strong bang for your back as it’s priced from just under Dh106k in base trim. The coupe-mimicking crossover is propelled by a 235hp/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo engine, with an eight-speed auto channelling drive to the front wheels in the entry-level GL. The range-topper is equipped with 4WD, but the Tugella is pitched as an urban commuter rather than dune tamer as its 20-inch rims are shod with road-biased low-profile tyres.

Haval H6 GT

The H6 GT is a coupe-esque crossover, with its elevated stance and 4WD format providing at least a semblance of off-road capability. That said, the Haval is designed for tarmac and occasional gravel-road excursions, which will suit most potential buyers just fine. Motivation is provided by a 208hp 2.0-litre turbo engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. Pricing starts at just under Dh120k, which includes leather seats, 19-inch alloys and plenty more.

Hongqi E-HS9

Seemingly drawing inspiration from the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Mercedes-Maybach GLS, the E-HS9 is a premium full-electric SUV that’s backed by impressive on-paper stats. The range-topper is equipped with a 99kWh battery pack that provides the gargantuan chariot with a claimed 440km touring range. Measuring over 5.2 metres long, there’s acres of sprawling space in the Hongqi’s luxuriant, leather-lined cabin. It’s no bargain-basement special, though, as pricing starts about Dh500k.

Jetour T2

Clearly deriving styling inspiration from the Land Rover Defender and Ford Bronco, the boxy Jetour T2 is pitched as an affordable, all-terrain SUV with pricing kicking off at a competitive Dh120k. Unlike the body-on-frame BAIC BJ60, the T2 is underpinned by a car-like monocoque chassis, which benefits on-road refinement and handling, but it’s less off-road capable. Power comes from a punchy 254hp/390Nm 2.0-litre turbo motor, hooked up to a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.

MG Whale

It’s not the most flattering name, yet the Whale has made quite the splash (excuse the pun) since its UAE debut in January – thanks in no small part to a razor-sharp entry price of Dh90k. With a coupe-esque fastback roofline, slit-like headlights and a finely vaned grille, the Whale derives motivation from a 231hp 2.0-litre turbo motor. Adding to its value proposition, the Whale comes loaded with plenty of mod-cons.

Zeekr X

The funky looking Zeekr X is an imminent arrival in UAE showrooms (it lands in March) and the full-electric compact crossover seems an attractive proposition on paper. The base model has a single electric motor that provides a claimed touring range of 440km, while the range-topping dual-motor version pushes out 428hp for a blistering 3.8-second 0-100kph sprint. Cabin quality is top-notch and plenty of standard kit is included for the Dh140k entry price range.

Updated: March 28, 2024, 12:41 PM