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2020 Geely Azkarra 1st Impressions: Cesspool of high-tech gizmos at an affordable price

Would you go for a top-spec model or settle for the lower variant? That’s a tough question to ask when buying a car, especially if you’re working on a budget. Geely Philippines is making that dilemma even harder with its newest model in the range – the Geely Azkarra.

The Azkarra is aligned with the Coolray, Geely’s first-born in its entry to the Philippine automotive market. Following the Coolray’s sales success towards the end of 2019 and through the first quarter of this year despite the adverse times, Geely wants to build on that momentum. The company is keeping faith with its initial offensive last year – and there’s no better way to back that confidence with a car like the Azkarra.

Think of the Azkarra as a classy version of the Coolray. While the Coolray evokes sportiness and youthful taste, the Azkarra is much cleaner and more minimalist in its design approach.

I’ve seen the vehicle in the metal before the pandemic set in, and what I can say is that it’s more mature and more composed. Inside, the materials used aren’t screaming for your attention, but rather begging for your appreciation at a closer inspection. The whole package isn’t boring per se, but if you’re familiar with the Coolray, you’ll know what I mean.

From the get-go, you know who the Azkarra’s target market is: the more conservative Filipino car buyer – but that ends with the design.

The Azkarra Variant Dilemma

If you’re conservative with your aesthetic choices but you want high-tech gizmos in your car, then you won’t have a problem with the Geely Azkarra.

Whether you’re looking at the entry-level variant or the top-spec mild-hybrid trim, the Azkarra comes with a bevy of features that aren’t found in cars within its price range. Remember, the Azkarra starts at P1,438,000 and ceilings at P1,598,000, so it’s within the price bracket of smaller and pricier crossovers such as the Honda HR-V and Subaru XV.

Despite this, the Azkarra already comes with a full-range 360-degree view camera display, with sensors on all four corners. The driver’s seat is electronically adjustable in six ways, while the instrument cluster is fully digital and the infotainment system measures 12.8 inches in 720p, producing sound through eight speakers. It also comes with LED lighting, 18-inch rims, and a shark fin antenna outside.

Lastly, the Azkarra’s cabin is protected by CN95 air filters, “designed to effectively filter out dust, harmful gases, particulate matter (PM) 2.5 particles, droplets with diameters larger than .74 microns which are often attached to coronaviruses.”

Again, all these features are found in both Azkarra variants, and so is the powerful 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine from the Coolray that makes 177hp and 255Nm of torque.

The Top-Spec Advantage

What separates the top-spec trim, then? The range-topping Azkarra features a mild hybrid system collectively called the 48V Electric Motor Synergy (EMS) model. The whole system is comprised of a 48V belt-starter generator (BSG), a 48V-12 DCDC converter, 48V lithium-ion battery module, and a battery management system (BMS).

So what makes the hybrid system special? Just like the usual hybrids, the electrical system acts as a boost for a total output of 190 hp and 300 Nm of torque. While the electric motor’s primary role is to complement the gasoline engine, the system has the capability to turn off the internal combustion engine at speeds below 15 km/h and let the electric motor take over – provided that the battery’s charge is enough to perform the operation.

Speaking of charging, the hybrid system charges itself when cruising at speeds and when braking, just like what series-parallel hybrid systems do.

Another advantage of going for the top-spec variant is its 7-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission, as opposed to the traditional 6-speed torque converter in the lower variant. Based on my experience with the Coolray before, which uses the same wet DCT, the 7-speed was excellent and didn’t feel like a DCT at all, except for some delay when using the paddle shifters – something that can be improved in the car’s computer.

Lastly, going for the range-topper Azkarra gets you Nappa leather for upholstery, wireless charging, power tailgate, and a massive panoramic sunroof. Now, that’s a treat, considering the price tag, and we can’t wait to get our hands on one for a full test.

Availability

The 2020 Geely Azkarra is now available for reservation, with the company throwing in a P100,000 discount for those who will reserve for the car on or before July 31. The Azkarra is available in the following color options: White, Blue, Silver, Red, and Black.

An official online public launch is set on May 30, 2020 via Geely Philippines’ website, Facebook, and YouTube accounts. Availability in showrooms wasn’t disclosed at the moment, but with regulations in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, we suggest that you take this chance to view the Azkarra from the comforts of your home.

Jacob Oliva

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