The BAIC BJ20 is the China-based manufacturer’s first entry in the local SUV market. Unlike it’s main competitors. The BJ20 runs on Front Wheel Drive (FWD) platform, so it’s more akin to a crossover than an SUV, but it’s size breaches into the larger platform territory. BAIC gambled into launching it’s own version with some odd combinations that seem to work out.
From afar, it looks like a marriage of design of the FJ Cruiser and the Montero. Similar styling cues in the fascia reveals a version of the FJ, however, headlight and park light placement give the BJ20 its own identity. The body boasts of regular sized front and rear doors, as any SUV will have. Squarish fender openings with riveted flares give it a tough but sporty profile.
Inside, the cockpit is designed to make a bold statement; Round AC vents with red accents, red-stitched leather seats, silver titanium fittings, and a 2-spoke steering wheel will tell you that this is a different SUV.
A wide 10.1-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth, Radio, USB, HDMI connectivity, an Altimeter and a properly designed dash is also welcome. The shifter is surrounded by buttons, and a stand alone dial serves a second volume control, presumably provided for the 4WD dial.
An added (and welcome) feature is the big panoramic moonroof. Takes advantage of the wide dimensions of the roof panel.
A big revelation here is the engine; instead of a company-engineered powertrain, the engineers decided to utilize a Mitsubishi sourced petrol engine. Not an ordinary run of the mill but a 1.5-litre turbocharged MIVEC, no less. With a maximum output of 147hp at 6,000rpm and a torque rating of 210 Nm at 2,600 rpm, its mated to a CVT transmission. makes sense. A manual transmission should be an option to maximize the power.
Tires are humongous 225/55/R18s, that fill up those wheelwells and goes well with the overall profile. All these weight, however, taxes the smallish powertrain, especially during acceleration, but comes to its own during highway travels; 100kph cruising speed is effortless.
- Driver and Passenger airbags
- Front seatbelt: 3-point with pretensioner
- Rear seatbelt: 3-point x 3
- Electronic Door Locks
- Antilock Braking System (ABS ) with Electronic Brake-force distribution
- ISOFIX Anchorage points
- Stability Control
- Electronic Door Locks
- Speed Sensing Door Locks
Price as Tested: Php1,288,000
The BAIC BJ20 Luxury 1.5L TURBO CVT is a compact SUV that holds its own ground. It doesn’t conform to the usual SUV idea, but presents its own version on what characteristics it must possess: Big interior space, unconventional styling, FWD powered by a small engine. An uncommon combination, but it somehow works for the BAIC BJ20.
Text/Images by Earl Manalansan