2023 was a year of firsts and a year of change for Changan. It’s the first time they let us have a look at their research, development, and production facility after they had their brand relaunch with new distributor, Inchcape Philippines.
Along with it, Changan was also keen on expanding its lineup in the country. We all know they already have a model range that goes from the Alsvin sedan to the flagship UNI-K crossover. However, they haven’t offered something that’s very popular in the Philippine market – a 7-seater. That all changed when they brought in the X7 Plus.
“Wait, what? X7? Isn’t that a BMW?” To be honest, I share those same sentiments with the way Chinese manufacturers name their cars nowadays, but let’s keep the topic of name recall for another time. So yes, it’s the X7 Plus from Changan. Not X7, nor is it X70 Plus because that’s from Jetour.
In Changan’s model lineup in the country, the X7 Plus took the place of the outgoing CS75 Plus which was about the same size, but without a third row. It’s also not the next-generation CS75 Plus as Changan made the X7 Plus under the Oshan brand over in China, which you’ll see on some parts of the vehicle. Oshan is Changan’s sub-brand that’s geared towards “affordable luxury”. So that means, the CS75 Plus and the X7 Plus are two completely distinct crossovers from one another.
At first glance, that definitely shows. Changan likes to design their vehicles with busy front ends, but with the X7 Plus, it’s a bit different. The grille itself is not as loud as say, the CS55 Plus, and the choice of mesh pattern screams elegant rather than sporty. But still, the red accents on the side intakes and the rocker panel give a hint of what the X7 Plus could give.
The rest of the exterior also gives a rather sporty MPV-ish vibe, as the toned-down design is evident with fewer creases on the side profile and the rear end with the full-width LED lighting affair. So while it’s in the same size territory as that of the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro, it’s more of an Innova Zenix or an Okavango, at least in my eyes.
Inside, the X7 Plus has a nice blend of sporty aesthetics with a hint of luxury. Speaking of the latter, you get leather seats on all three rows, a glass canopy on the roof, and a faux wood panel on the dashboard. But the front row seats, the lower part of the dash, and the doors have that Alcantara/suede-ish materials with the orange accent stitching and piano black panels going on.
As we’ve previously experienced with the UNI-T and the CS55, the X7 Plus’ interior quality feels like it’s well put together. The materials don’t look cheap and the gaps between panels are consistent. Space, on the other hand, is good for the first two rows. But as with other manufacturers with 7-seater SUVs and crossovers, the third row’s space can feel cramped for adults. Quite simply, the last row is more reserved for the occasional joiner on a short trip.
With all seats up, you get around 13 inches of length, 39 inches of maximum width, and about 29 inches of height for your cargo. When the third-row seats fold flat, the length for the cargo increases to about 39 inches. But when you’re mainly using the X7 Plus to carry stuff, the second-row seats when folded give you a length of up to 70 inches.
However, if you’ve ridden the CS35, CS55 Plus, or the UNI-T, you’ll notice some interior features are rather omitted, or slightly on a lower level with the X7 Plus. After all, the Oshan brand is geared towards affordability, so you have to also manage your expectations.
First of all, the screens on the dashboard and the infotainment system are not as HD or 4K as that of Changan’s 5-seater crossovers, but they still have good resolution. I also like the fact that they retained the 360 camera, the fancy built-in dashcam, and the around-view monitors on this one. But for those who rely on smartphones for navigation or media though, there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto here. Just the CarAuto Global app that’s not as widely used as those two. You still get USB ports and Bluetooth for connection, but no wireless charging for this 7-seater.
As the brand that has a name that translates to “lasting safety”, the X7 Plus comes equipped with plenty of passive and active safety features. This ranges from multiple airbags, to tire pressure monitors, to features such as hill hold control, hill descent, and even brake assist.
Changan has one of the most powerful 1.5-liter turbo engines in the market today with the Bluecore NE15, and I’m glad it found its way to the X7 Plus. Much like the CS55 Plus, the engine is paired with a 7-speed wet dual-clutch transmission. With the CS55 Plus, the 7-speed wet DCT was one of the smoothest I’ve tested, and I’m happy to say it’s the same with the X7 Plus.
However, the X7 Plus drives differently compared to the CS55 Plus. While the latter can get rowdy, especially in Sport mode, power delivery is different in the 7-seater. It’s actually smoother in the X7 Plus. Perhaps, the added weight and longer body may have been a factor. But still, with 185 PS and 300 Nm on tap, you get plenty of pulling power for overtaking.
Suspension-wise, no complaints either. The X7 Plus rides more on the comfort side, but is not overly soft. It still manages a nice and composed ride over bumps, but don’t expect sharp handling. After all, it’s a 7-seater built for the family. If you want something more engaging, then perhaps you need to try other vehicle segments.
In terms of fuel efficiency, that’s where the X7 Plus gets thirstier than the CS55, and that’s expected. I did around 8.9 km/l at an average speed of 18 km/h in the city, and 14.7 km/l at 74 km/h on the highway which is still pretty good numbers for a turbocharged 7-seater. Of note, I was driving solo for the most part when I got those fuel efficiency numbers, so expect it to be lower as you load the X7 Plus with more passengers.
Overall, the X7 Plus does indeed give an attractive proposition with what it is, and Changan sweetens up the deal even more in terms of pricing because it only costs PHP 1.399 million. For reference, Changan undercuts 7-seaters from Chinese manufacturers like the Okavango and the Tiggo 8 Pro, and is even priced lower than the top-spec Ford Territory.
However, when you compare the X7 Plus car-for-car, it's kind of missing some advanced safety features such as ADAS as well as some interior features that its competitors have like power seats, and a power tailgate. That could be some of the reasons why Changan can place the X7 Plus at its price point.
Nowadays, though, vehicles from China are no longer being bought because they are cheap, but because they offer great value for money. Buyers now tend to turn to Chinese brands because of how much car they could get for an x amount of money. This leaves me curious to see how Changan could execute the X7 Plus complete with all the bells and whistles.
I believe they can do it well based on what I saw with the CS55 Plus and UNI-T, it’s just a matter of “if they actually do it”.