Changan Alsvin 1.5 Platinum: Exceed expectations

The name, Alsvin has certainly raised some eyebrows. At first, it seems this new subcompact sedan from Changan has a typo in its name. While the automaker has provided no definitive reason behind its name, “Alsvin,” is actually a mythical Norse horse which also happens to mean, “swift.” Now whether that’s an intentional shot across Suzuki’s bow is something best left to the imagination.

Whatever the logic behind the Alsvin name, one thing’s for sure: whether it’s in China or the Philippines, it’s aimed squarely at first-time car buyers. With a starting price of just P539,000, it is, as a matter of fact, one of the most affordable new cars in the market today. However, don’t let the low barrier to entry fool you: it scores extremely high in the value quotient, and for that comes across as a very pleasant surprise.

Changan markets the Alsvin as a rival to B-segment sedans. While that’s true because of its powertrain and impressive specs, one key dimension, wheelbase, means it’s actually half a size smaller. Its 2,535mm wheelbase places it between the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 (2,550 mm) and the Suzuki Dzire (2,450 mm).

Don’t let the size fool you though. Compared to those aforementioned rivals, the Alsvin is neatly styled. It manages to avoid the “hatch with a trunk” trope. The designers, it seems, have taken better care in giving this subcompact sedan better proportions. Its most obvious design feature—the “Butterfly-wing” radiator grille dominates the front end, and neatly ties it up to the rest of the Changan range. Projector headlights (with LED DRLs on the Platinum), side mirror signal indicators, and alloy wheels are all standard, too.

Despite its rather compact exterior dimensions, the Alsvin can seat four adults in comfort. Upfront, the dashboard has a very strong Mazda-esque design—likely influenced by Changan’s joint-venture with the Japanese automaker. A floating 7-inch touchscreen with steering wheel controls and Bluetooth is standard, and thankfully a break from typical China car norms, comes with some physical buttons too. The driver gets a flat-bottomed wheel, and directly ahead of that are easy-to-read instruments. The top-of-the-line Platinum variant is further differentiated by its height adjustable driver’s seat, additional speakers (four from two), leather seats, and a sunroof.

Under the hood, the Alsvin comes with two engine choices. The manual variant comes with a 1.4-liter packing 100hp and 135Nm. Meanwhile, the automatic variant comes with a motor that’s 100-cc bigger. This ups the overall power to 107hp and torque to 145Nm. In a rather unique twist, this 1.5-liter engine’s not connected to either a conventional torque converter automatic or CVT; instead, it uses a 5-speed wet-type dual clutch automatic. Honestly, we don’t know why China’s so enamored with dual clutch gearboxes, but whatever the reason, a quick spin allays any fears. It behaves just as smoothly as a conventional gearbox. With limited seat time, the Alsvin shows off lithe responses as well.

Even better, the Alsvin comes packing safety features. Across the line, it comes with dual SRS airbags, ABS with EBD, reverse camera, and tire pressure monitoring as standard. Upgrading to the AT variants, it adds Electronic Stability Control with Hill Hold Control and reverse parking sensors. Opting for the Platinum gets you a Blind Spot View camera which works similarly to Honda’s LaneWatch.

Whether or not the Alsvin can live up to its namesake can only be definitively answered by a lengthier seat time. But for now, let’s conclude this with its Chinese Domestic Market name: 悦翔. Anglicized as Yuexiang, it means “soaring happiness.” With that in mind, is there anything to be happy about this newest entrant to the market?

All things considered, yes. It provides a genuine mobility option to first-time car buyers, buyers who would have otherwise compromised with a small, dinky hatchback. Changan calls the Alsvin a sedan that “exceeds everyday demands and expectations.” Considering its size and array of features, we’d say it’s definitely job done.

The 2021 Changan Alsvin comes in three variants with the following prices: 1.4L MT (P539,000 introductory Price; P579,000 SRP), 1.5L 5-speed DCT (Php599,000 introductory Price; P 639,000 SRP), and 1.5L 5-speed DCT Platinum (P 639,000 introductory Price; P 679,000 SRP). It comes in five colors: Snow White, Silver Gray, Pearl Black, Glory Red, and Deep Blue.

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