2024 BAIC X55 review - As good as it looks or just another Chinese SUV? (2024)


There have been so many automotive brands from China entering the Malaysian market over the past few years that we have practically lost count. And just in case you thought there were enough of them already, a new player (well, not new for China, more on that later), known as BAIC, has recently made its entry into our market. During its brand debut in May, BAIC “launched” two cars here, namely the X55 and the BJ40 Plus. This review will focus on the former model.

The BAIC brand might be new to us Malaysians, but it is no stranger to the Chinese market and is in fact one of the oldest there. BAIC or Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co, Ltd was established in 1958 as a state-owned company. Along the way, it collaborated with various global carmakers such as Jeep and Saab. Today, it holds a joint venture relationship with Hyundai and Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) in China.

First and foremost, what is the X55? Well, it is a C-segment SUV, which means its main rivals consist of the likes of the Proton X70, Chery Tiggo 7 Pro, Mazda CX-5, and the Honda CR-V. With an estimated price range of RM120,000 and RM140,000, can it give its competitors a good fight? Or will it struggle to survive here? Here’s my review of the car after living with it for a week.

The BAIC X55 at a glance:

Engine1,498 cc; turbocharged inline-4
Transmission7-speed dual-clutch
DrivetrainFront-wheel drive (FWD)
Max horsepower188 hp @ 5,500
Max torque305 Nm @ 1,500-4,500 rpm
PriceEst. RM120,000RM140,000

RELATED: BAIC X55 debuts in Malaysia, est. RM120k – RM140k, X70 rival with 1.5L turbo engine

BAIC X55 exterior: Designed to impress

A car’s looks are undeniably one of the most important factors in making or breaking one’s first impression towards it. In this case, the BAIC X55 passed with flying colours. This is despite the model we tested being the entry-level variant.

Neighbours, friends, and family members who saw the BAIC X55 all gave praise for how sharp it looked. This is thanks to its Lotus Eletre-like LED daytime running lights (DRLs) and sporty-looking taillights, as well as its Lexus-like front grille. Its flush door handles are certainly a feature that will impress your friends too.

Representatives from BAIC also told us that the “Beijing” badges seen on the car will be replaced with “BAIC” ones, just in case you are worried about that side of things. Not only does the BAIC X55 look good, but it also comes with decent build quality as the doors give a confidence-inspiring thump when closed. So no, this is definitely no Fisher-Price car.

BAIC X55 performance: Powerful and nimble, but with a slow gearbox

Now on to the way it drives. Like many of its Chinese competitors, the BAIC X55 has decent NVH and rides pretty comfortably, thanks to its comfort-oriented suspension.

Engine noise is nicely insulated, except when under full throttle, while tyre noise is kept at an acceptable level. Its exhaust is slightly boomier than its competition though, which some may or may not like.

Like the Proton X70, the X55 isn’t the best at blocking out wind noise when travelling at highway speeds. Wind noise can be noticed starting from 85 km/h, and things get a little bit more ridiculous above the national speed limit.

As mentioned above, the BAIC X55 rides rather comfortably. However, don’t let that make you think it fails in the handling department. To clarify, this is still no Volkswagen Tiguan or Mazda CX-5, but it keeps itself together when being thrown into corners at reasonable speeds.

For reference, the BAIC X55 only has a kerb weight of 1,550 kg, which is significantly lighter than the Proton X70, Honda CR-V, and Mazda CX-5, contributing to its nimble handling that reminds me of B-segment SUVs. All in all, it packs decent ride and handling performance more than enough to serve as one’s daily family SUV.

The only major flaw I found in the BAIC X55’s performance department is the way the suspension jolts when going through potholes or uneven roads, which oddly felt a pickup truck. Also, the 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox could be a little bit more responsive.

RELATED: BAIC, the newest Chinese brand in Malaysia is actually one of the oldest in China

BAIC X55 interior: Back to basics with a sprinkle of sportiness

Upon opening the doors of the BAIC X55, you will find a rather minimalistic interior, which tries to emulate a Tesla. It has all the basic equipment of a modern SUV like a digital instrument display, a central touchscreen display, an electronic gear selector in the middle, and (thankfully) the wiper and turn signal stalks behind the steering wheel which comes with physical multifunction buttons.

Otherwise, most of the car’s functions are all controlled via the central touchscreen, including the aircon, which does take some getting used to. Speaking of the central touchscreen, the fully imported (CBU) unit we tested did not come with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay connectivity, but BAIC’s representatives mentioned that these functions will be coming to the Malaysian units in the future.

Unlike its exterior, the BAIC X55’s interior isn’t something that will impress someone. But there are no major faults to it either. It’s just that when compared to its competitors like the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro and Honda CR-V, its interior does appear a little bland, especially for its segment.

What’s certainly not bland in here has to be the sporty-looking seats in red. The full bucket-like front seats even come with “Beijing” embroideries on their headrests. Although omitted in the spec sheet provided by BAIC, the entry-level X55 we tested came with ventilated front seats, which is gospel for Malaysians.

Just like the way it looks, the BAIC X55’s front seats did a good job of securing me in place through windy roads. The front seats are a little firm, but the main issue has to be the creaking noise the side bolsters make when ingressing and egressing the car. This could either be caused by me being a little more plump than the average Malaysian, or the quality control of the seat itself. The rear seats are comfortable enough, thanks to decent thigh support.

BAIC X55 safety – ADAS should be made standard in a RM120k car

One of the most crucial criteria carmakers have to fulfil when building a modern vehicle has to be its safety features, which the entry-level BAIC X55 is lacking. It does have basic passive features like six airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hill Hold Assist (HHA), and so on. It also has a reverse camera which I have to mention is rather slow to engage. Hopefully, this can be fixed with a simple software update.

What it does not have are Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) which will be ridiculous if BAIC is planning to sell it at the RM120,000++ price point. Yes, the range-topping X55 will come with them, but one shouldn’t shell out more money just to be deserving of those features, especially at the price range BAIC is planning to market the X55 at.

BAIC X55 verdict – Being decent just isn’t sufficient anymore

The BAIC X55 is certainly not the type of low-quality product Chinese carmakers used to sell over a decade ago. However, it takes more than just a handsome face to compete and even excel in the C-segment SUV market, especially when facing affordable yet well equipped competitors such as the Chery Tiggo 7 Pro, and more refined rivals like the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5.

With BAIC being a relatively unknown brand in Malaysia, it will also take time for consumers to put their trust in it. And like with owning cars of any other brands, BAIC’s after-sales service and the quality of its products will also play an important role in determining its success in Malaysia. Would you be willing to give this newcomer a chance?

RELATED: BAIC BJ40 Plus debuts in Malaysia, est. RM180k – RM190k, 2.0L turbo petrol, 224hp, 380Nm

GALLERY


2024 BAIC X55 review - As good as it looks or just another Chinese SUV? (2024)
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