Gone are the days when Chinese crossovers were compared only with each other and with goods from the Aliexpress platform. And at the same time, all the discounts that brands with outlandish names gave us, and we, in turn, their products, disappeared. In recent years, it has improved more rapidly than that of Koreans, Japanese, and Europeans, although this was mainly the effect of a low base. But now, when prices are brought to a single denominator, it has become easier to compare. Here, for example, is a new version of the famous Geely Atlas-now with a typical smartphone set-top box Pro. This new, but still far from ideal crossover at the end of the trip left me slightly perplexed: can the Chinese really do this now?
And Atlas Pro, being a crossover of quite ordinary characteristics, not only did not beg for mercy in difficult conditions but also gave an unexpected bonus. Driving pleasure! The redesigned chassis turned out to be so cool that it is difficult for him to come up with a task beyond his teeth. The energy intensity is almost rally-raid — you can close the shock absorbers only out of curiosity or if you rush over potholes with a blindfold.
The flip side may be the feeling that it is too harsh. A colleague who has fresh memories of the Atlas of the last generation claims that it is much softer. But in any civilian suspensions, softness is not only comfort but also almost always at the same time pliability, which does not allow you to drive headlong and under the wheels without looking.
And on Pro, this is possible and necessary. And then what is considered a comfortable suspension? The one that rides “softly”, gently swaying, but inevitably passing in harsh conditions? Or dense, more shaking, but moreover assembled and armor-piercing? It depends on the priorities, habits, and calibration of the driver’s vestibular apparatus.
But the second option is closer to me — with it, the car is much more versatile due to the stability and predictability that the chassis provides, regardless of the quality of the coating and the presence of it in general. After all, comfort is not only the physiological feeling of a feather bed under the coccyx but also the psychological confidence of the driver that everything is under control.
And it is interesting to control the Pro, because the balance of handling is wonderful, despite the huge mass of more than 2 tons. Instead of the expected nose slip, Atlas clearly pulls off all four, and in tight turns, you can draw a trajectory not only with the steering wheel but also with gas. And under a good provocation, and on a primer, you can generally depict a rally-controllability and energy intensity allow.
Why do this on such a car? Firstly, because it is pleasant to play with it, especially given the fact that crossovers by definition are not intended for this. It’s fun! And secondly, because this is the only way to move really fast since the Atlas Pro speakers have no reserve.
But the lack of a good acceleration is not a verdict, but just a tricky asterisk to the original task. The driver needs to gain speed and reset it minimally so that he does not accelerate again for an eternity. Riding using inertia is not only exciting but also a little useful: there is less consumption of pads and fuel. And it is made safe by a competent suspension setup, adequate electronics, and surprisingly tenacious Chinese Giti tires.
Of course, few people will go as far in the management of the Atlas of Missile Defense as we do with our colleagues in the professional formation. But even with a quiet ride, driving a crossover is easy and pleasant. Except for one, but a big nuance.
The robotic transmission of the Atlas Pro all-wheel drive is configured with a priority to protect the clutches so meticulously as if they are made of precious metals. Therefore, no choice of power plant modes or driving techniques will make the crossover close the friction pair faster. As a result, it is almost never possible to comfortably fit into the window of the city flow.
And you can safely start from the intersection under the last digits of the traffic light countdown — the lag between the driver’s team and the start of acceleration is so great! You can get used to it, but why should the driver do it at all? Moreover, at highway speeds, the box also switches sparingly, but it is easier to calculate the acceleration on the move than, for example, starting from an adjacent road of an unregulated T-intersection.
The declared dynamics “from 10 seconds to a hundred” raises great doubts: when the driver of the local Chelyabinsk Grant began to gas up on the “pole position”, for the sake of a joke, I decided to play along with him. The newest Chinese crossover and the popular Russian sedan went from the traffic light level to the conditionally permitted 80 km/h! Well, where are we under the hood of 177 horses and 300 “Newtons”?
Most of them are eaten by a 7-step robot with an acute instinct of self-preservation. And 300 N*m is actually 255. Because the power plant of the Atlas Pro is “soft-hybrid”: with a 48-volt starter generator, which is not only powered by a turbo engine, but can also help rotate the crankshaft itself, adding short-term 50 Newton meters.
This should work mainly at urban speeds and provided that the separate battery of the system located in the trunk is charged. One more declared profit is the possibility of rolling motion, when the electronics opens the transmission, the internal combustion engine is jammed, and the accumulated energy is responsible for the functioning of all amplifiers and other onboard electricity consumers. But in fact, the driver does not particularly notice either the “electric bus” mode or the activation of the rolling motion. It feels like a regular turbocharged low-volume car. And this is probably for the best.
Because you do not need to pay attention to the operation of the power plant — the Geely Atlas Pro already has something to “load” the driver with. The salon has a similar architecture to the Tugella-with all its pros and cons. That is, a comfortable fit in the seats, decent materials, and modern design. As well as an overloaded digital device and an unpleasant to use, albeit functional multimedia. And strange decisions like not being able to start until the driver is strapped in. Significant differences in favor of the Atlas Pro from the Tugella are a normal, non-addictive transmission selector and better visibility back.
But the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a crossover car is that the masters are also far from sinless. And this will soon be illustrated by our test of a restyled Tiguan against a Tugella. Crossovers from China are about to stop being catching up, and in one or two generations they will be able to set trends with might and main. And already now they are quite worthy of consideration as an object of investment of a very significant amount. The only question is: pro what the owner will tell the neighbor in the parking lot with pride, and pro what — with regret. Compromises cannot be avoided, but this applies not only to Chinese cars.