“Brilliance Motor opened in Russia in 2013 – at a time when our business community, and not only our automotive community, was flourishing, growing, and hoping. A strong rouble contributed to the development of competition, investors were considering how to strengthen the localization, premium brands were bringing to the market more and more niche and exotic products, which were then washed away by the first crisis landslide. Meanwhile, for the first three years, Brillians Motor was down, discouraging investments, until it finally made a profit in 2016. The next year, the Chinese barely kept a symbolic plus, and in 2018, when neither Russian production at DerVeys nor imports were already in place, when only 39 vehicles were registered for the entire year, of which only two – of this year’s production – were delivered, the Russian office of Brilliance again plunged into abyss of losses, spending 138 million rubles in excess of modest profits. Would it seem like a kayuk? It wasn’t here! Let’s not forget that this carmaker – with a great deal of government involvement, connected with the BMW’s total production capacity, so that the Russian losses are just kopecks, which, probably, do not even pay attention to.
Moreover, last year the only remaining Brilliance car in Russia, the V5 sub-compact crossover, was supposed to be a company again, the V3 sub-compact crossover. We wrote about it in due time, “Brillians Motor” received the Vehicle Type Approval (VTV) for the car in due time, but brought it to the market only in August of this year, and even then – not at the first attempt! The fact is that Brillians received its first certificate for V3 at the end of 2016, but by the time we started supplying the Chinese plant, the supplier of glasses, mirrors and other small items that affect the UFTC had to get a new certificate for sales in Russia.
It follows from all the above that V3 is not the first machine to be fresh, so those who expect some novelty from it compared to V5, the turbo version of which we compared with Suzuki Vitara last year, hope, in general, for nothing. But this does not mean that the market value of V3 is lower than that of V5 Turbo.
In general, under the hood of the novelty there is a heartless and frankly weak 1.5-liter BM15LC engine of its own production, which develops only 107 “snares”. Its slightly weaker version BM15LC was equipped with a small sedan H230, which again did not take root in our latitudes.
The engine is equipped with a manual box JW5F18K, the components of which are produced at a joint venture with Valeo, located in the same Shenyang, where Brilliance assembles and V3. But the automatic hydromechanical box from Hyundai model 5F16 is transported from Macau through the country, where they are produced by Enginstar. It is this box that turned out to be on our test model: it is distinguished from the one that stood on the V5 Turbo by its only enlarged main pair – 3,942 vs. 3,692.
It is alive, but it does not glow…
In the car was the standard seat heating, as was the V5. It would seem that it is not worth mentioning a trifle, but in the time since that test, we have seen that some of the “Chinese” are not. Brilliance saved the owners from having to buy this option from a dealer, which is usually offered not by itself, but as a part of the “divorce package”.
Alas, this function did not work better: the heat spreads quickly, but too unevenly and very strongly: after a few minutes it fries in such a way that it is impossible to sit, and some parts of the pillow remain cold, and the “stove” has to be switched off. By the way, the buttons are not illuminated, and it is difficult to find them. However, at movement it is necessary to do it “blindly” as from a convenient place – near to a selector of “automatic machine” as on V5 – they have moved and now settle down between forward seats, almost at the basis of a pillow, under “poker” of a handbrake.
Some words deserve also devices V3, but, alas, again not “by itself”, and again in comparison with former models Brilliance. No matter how scolded the previous combination, copied from BMW, but, except caustic-blue shade, it did not embarrass anything, but when the Chinese began to invent something, it was not very good. The combination on the V3 is worse because of the blue inner rim, which has become the dominant element that attracts attention in the first place and distracts attention from the numbers. But the white color of the numbers and the risk here is a plus. However, it does not improve the perceptibility of information from the on-board computer with scarce data, where even the average fuel consumption cannot be deduced. In this case fonts were pumped up.
As to possibilities of this “calculator”, it shows only the instant expense and the remained before refueling kilometrage. In any case, those who prefer to stay in the city stream on an equal footing with the other participants of the traffic, it is better to be guided by 12 l/100 km. Is it too much? Yes, but the engine is weak, the crankshaft should be twisted high, which with a solid mass of the car (our baby weighs 1425 kg, that is, a little less than other medium-size European crossovers) will make the driver more often than usual to stop for refueling. For Chinese people high curb weight is a traditional thing. Well, their automobile engineering hasn’t reached the world heights yet, and it’s not fast… As usual, all this turns out to be low payload – 315 kg (for the version with automatic transmission), and what is it – three centners? That’s three fat Russian men under fifty – that’s all. As the three of us sit down, so the place is over…
The seats do not make an impression of throwing – the sane support on the back and on the pillow, at least for a man of medium build height up to 180 cm: if the individual is taller and wider, it will be uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the impression is spoiled by the head restraints, which are in the test model “looseness” on both the passenger and driver’s seats in the longitudinal direction. Not to say that the absence of lumbar support caused any special discomfort: during short trips around the city and two-three-hour trips – the drivers of the above mentioned size will not be bothered by the design features of the seat.
In general, the salon of V3 is as it is expected to be seen by the majority of customers in this segment of the Chinese budget car, or, to put it simply, it does not surprise, although it looks quite decent. Hard plastic, simple mechanisms made for reasons of economy, deaf clicking of the ventilation system flap, which blocks the air intake into the cabin, short range of steering wheel adjustment… But the wiper nozzles are watered in four jets – so they can, if they want to!
But everywhere – here literally everywhere – children’s illnesses are self-diagnosed: say, the opening of the fifth door is very narrow, it is much smaller than the size of the trunk width. Thus – the big loading height and high curb because of what it is inconvenient neither to put cargoes in the car, nor to take out them back. Headlamps are not connected “through the lock” – it seems to be okay, and you can get used to it, but when you turn off the engine, the driver reminds of such a weak squeak that it can not be heard, especially if immersed in his thoughts.
Or maybe it is, turbo…
I must admit that after V5 Turbo I had a hard time communicating with the atmospheric V3, and even with the heavy machine. Acceleration of the car is heavy, mutatory, natural, and it is inconvenient to dose to horror. It feels like when this Korean “machine” came out in circulation, Brilliance engineers were “friends” with the engine, they didn’t want to be “friends” in any way. At intensive speed gain there is a feeling that you pull a sledge on snow, but not on a rope – on a power-consuming spring which “eats” at first a part of effort, stretching, and after sleds will overcome force of resistance to acceleration, adds to them speeds by own compression. There are practically no possibilities of braking, which is strange, because on Korean models the current “hydromechanical” boxes are endowed with this property in due measure.
As a car with a fairly simple design – without the intermediate drive shaft support on the “long” side – the V3 is too sensitive to rutting. Often, the “drum”, which already requires a lot of effort, is pulled out of the hands, but emergency braking does not require any correction of the trajectory, at least if it is carried out in a straight line. Meanwhile, our homegrown Lada Xray has received a support only at installation of the French motor H4M with the Japanese variator, and others (and not only Chinese) still do without it.
Active throttling from somewhere in the underside of the cabin brings a clear whistling sound to the salon. At first I thought I had some kind of aural aberration after a week’s ride in a turbocharged Renault Arkana, which whistles like a whistle-blower from a folk music ensemble… But there is no turbine on the “Chinese”, where does the whistle come from? It remained a mystery to me.
Actually, it is possible to think that Brilliance V3 is a ball of drawbacks. Not at all! The advantages of the car – they are different for every car owner, and it’s as easy to find them at the Chinese novelty as to estimate its wonderful and fresh design. Meanwhile, the feeling of anxiety for the V3 does not leave me: on the one hand, it is supported by JAC S3, which is assembled in Kazakhstan on a full cycle and delivered to Russia without duties, on the other hand, it is a solid one, which has adopted the best features of Changan CS 35 Plus from many famous competitors. In general, it is good that Brilliance is still a state-owned company. So far, such structures are the most stable in the Celestial Empire…