It's not perfect, but with investment the Chinese-built Fashion could be competitive
It’s far from perfect, but the Fashion shows that with a bit of time and a great deal of investment, Chinese car brands could soon make inroads in Europe. A question mark still hangs over safety, yet Landwind has come up with a compact MPV that has the practicality to match many opponents at a fraction of the price.
People carriers are a European invention. You can argue about which car maker was first on the market, but manufacturers across the Continent have been refining and developing MPVs for decades. However, now China thinks it can beat them at their own game.
Even though Chinese car brands are still in their infancy, when Landwind’s SUV was described as “appalling” by Euro NCAP after a German crash test last year, it was clear that the marque had a long way to go. But the firm’s development has continued nonetheless, and Landwind is ready to launch its first MPV on the Continent in April.
The unfortunately named Fashion merges design cues from many of its competitors, with teardrop headlights, a chrome grille and high-set rear lamps. Get close up, and the shape lacks the flowing lines of more established rivals, while the fit and finish could be better.
However, before levelling criticism at the Fashion, you have to take its price into account. In Europe, it will sell for the equivalent of £8,200, and bosses hope to bring it to the UK for a similar amount in the next couple of years. That’s little more than a basic Vauxhall Corsa, so it soon becomes far easier to forgive the seven-seat people carrier’s shortcomings.
Inside, the dashboard is well laid out, with all the switchgear logically positioned. Equipment is generous, with sat-nav and plenty of electric gizmos available. Again, build quality is flimsy, but there’s nothing wrong with the Landwind’s cabin packaging. The thin sixth and seventh chairs fold flat into the boot floor, while the middle bench slides to leave a massive luggage area.
With a 95bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine, the Fashion needs a following wind to make swift progress. Sluggish performance is matched by lacklustre dynamics – it’s not that much worse than many other MPVs, but body roll and a tendency to understeer are likely to take the fun out of driving for many owners.
While the Landwind Fashion is no match for top European rivals, it’s a sign of things to come.