Four foreigners living in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, had their first chance to test drive the Dongfeng Fengshen S30 sedan August 30. That was also the first test driving team made up of foreigners living in China.
From left to right: Deborah, Terry, Patrick and Christina
Global Times: What's your first impression on this car? Is it the same as what you had expected, if not, how is it different? What did you expect from the car?
Christina: Well, nice lines, that’s my first impression.
Deborah: Dongfeng S30 looks very cool. The dash board looks very sleek and modern.
Terry: As for style, this was ok but didn't impress me too much, but then again I have never been a person that goes just for looks, my interest has always been with performance comfort and safety.
Global Times: Do you feel comfortable while you are driving? How do you like the seat, is there enough room for your legs and head? What do you think of the quality of the interior?
Christina: It’s comfortable, and the seat, the armrest, the headrest are all nice.
Patrick: The interior is good. I have enough space for my legs, hip and arms. It is comfortable.
Terry: My biggest surprise was when I first sat behind the wheel and discovered just how much space there was inside. I am 184cm tall and yet had no problem fitting into the car and even with the seat set back there was still ample room for someone to sit in the seat behind me. The headroom was good too, even for a person of my size, and I was surprised to find that there was still a 5cm space between the top of my head and the roof. The only other comment that I would make is though, is that it would have been nice if the seat height was adjustable as well.
Global Times: How do you like using the manual transmission when you shift gears? How do you feel when the car shifts gears? Can you feel the shifting jerky or smooth?
Terry: There was also too much play in the gear shift and trying to make quick gear changes and finding the correct gate was sometimes a bit hit and miss. I had no problems with the clutch though, which was light and smooth.
Deborah: I agree with Terry, it is hard to shift gears with the manual transmission. I find the auto gear is not clear when I shift gears and it is easy to enter the wrong gear.
Global Times: What was your fastest speed when you test drove the car? How do you feel about the noise when driving at your fastest speed?
Christina: In the first round of driving, my speed was 60. It was smooth. The second round, I raised it to 100, but I heard little noise. It’s more silent than BMW I drove.
Terry: It's noisy in a high rates.
Global Times: When you hold the steering wheel, how do you feel?
Christina: The steering wheel is perfect, the material is great, even the air conditioner is on, the steering wheel still feels comfortable. Some cars I drove had such problems, when it’s hot or cold inside, it can be felt on the steering wheel easily. It can be handled easily. One problem is I can't lift the steering wheel further, since I am tall, my knees can still touch the steering wheel even it is placed at the highest level. In addition, the steering wheel is relatively small compared with the car I drove.
Deborah: The steering wheel is a bit smaller than what I used in Australia. But I feel comfortable when holding it. It is easy to turn the direction and turn back. When I don’t hold the steering wheel, the car can keep the straight run on the whole.
Terry: It's light, but I prefer heavier one, so I can feel it in the wheel.
Global Times: When turning do you feel an obvious lean of your body? What do you think of the shock absorber when driving through the bumpy road section?
Deborah: The shock absorber works well when crossing the bumpy road section and when I try a hard brake and the brake works well, too.
Terry: The car seemed to ride nicely, but with nothing more than a flat straight piece of road to test the car on, I wasn't really able check the S30's handling capabilities although I did sense a certain amount of body-roll whenever I changed directions suddenly.
Christina: I didn’t feel obvious lean when turning. Since the road is straightaway, I can’t tell how good the shock absorber is.
Global Times: Do you have any comments on the car's power and acceleration system?
Terry: Good power and accelerating system. But power drops rapidly high up.
Patrick: The pickup is slow.
Global Times: Any other comments?
Christina: It looks good generally, but pickup is a little bit slow. It’s a nice car considering the price. The seat belt is good, some belts I drove are not very high and some are not long enough. This one is good. One thing I noticed is this car doesn't have any cup holders. I like having a cup of coffee by my side while driving, but it seems it’s not possible to do that on this car.
Patrick: The handling and steering are good. I am most satisfied with the price. Ninety thousand yuan for a car with this performance is really a bargain because I have never seen one in America. The cheapest brand-new car in the States probably will cost you $12,000 without air conditioning, DVD player and other extras. Plus the performance may not be as good as this Dongfeng car. As for improvements, I think if the wheels were bigger, it will be cooler. And for the gearbox, the gears are too close to each other so it’s uncomfortable to shift. Also, there’s no cup holder on my right side and the horn is usually in the center of the wheel.
Deborah: I feel its smooth streamlined design since it combines the French design style. It is better to have a special design for women – glove box with larger space. Women have tissues, makeup mirror and they need more space in the glove box. However, men may not need it. I feel most satisfied with the leg room and it is out of my expectation. I also like the seat; it can move back and forth. The lazyback can adjust the angles and it makes me feel comfortable. The rearview mirror is really good for driving at night because it has the anti-vertigo function. The wing mirrors can easily be changed in all directions from inside through the button, back and forth, up and down. It is much safer to operate from inside.
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