Zotye T600: a Touareg From China

Zotye T600 SUV first appeared at the 2013 Guangzhou Auto Show. Soon after it became available on many European and Asian markets. Zotye is one of the many Chinese automotive manufacturers hoping to follow in the footsteps of Great Wall and Chery to bring their cars to Australia. Founded in 2005, in Yongkang, China, the company has manufacturing facilities all over Asia and Europe.

The Exterior

The T600 sports an attractive modern design, although definitely “inspired by” well-known models such as VW Touareg. The front is remarkably similar to the Touareg and perhaps the Audi Q5. It features LED front and rear running lights, adaptive xenon headlights (in premium trim versions) and 17 inch alloy wheels. 18 inch are an option as well.

Similar in size to a Holden Captiva, Zotye T600 is 4631 mm long, 1694 mm high and 1893 mm wide with a 2807mm wheelbase. Ground clearance of 185 mm is quite respectable. The total lack of under vehicle protection, however, makes going off-road a rather bad idea. Car’s kerb weight is in the 1610 – 1730 kg range and the GVM is 1950 – 2030 kg depending on the engine and transmission options fitted.

Zotye T600: front view

The Interior

Perhaps not what we’ve come to expect from such cars, the interior is surprisingly well-made and thought-through. The plastics and leather imitations are nice to the touch and the quality of the stitching is solid.

The instrument cluster is a standard speedo and tachometer with a LCD display in the middle. The steering wheel has a nice natural shape and easily accessible buttons on the spokes (again, in premium trim).

The centre panel houses either a simple radio or an Android-based 8 inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation. Beneath it are is a normal A/C or a dual-zone climate control and a small storage compartment. The Zotye T600 is also fitted with a USB port in the arm rest storage box, AUX audio input, and the infotainment unit comes with two micro-SD card slots: one for maps and one for user storage. The good news is unlike most European and Japanese cars, you’re not limited to outdated manufacturer maps. You can easily download and use navigation files of your choice.

When it comes to upholstery, the choices are fabric or genuine leather. Wide front seats with moderate side support would definitely be good for a more relaxed driving style. The spacious rear bench can comfortably fit three.

A modest 344 litre boot is compensated by its convenient shape and the fact that you’re carrying a full-sized spare wheel. The rear seats also fold forward, greatly increasing the available volume (albeit not flush with the floor).

Zotye T600: interior

The Engine

The Zotye T600 comes with two engine options, both straight 4 cylinder petrol, available in FWD (internationally) and AWD (in China):

    • 1.5L turbo making 162 horsepower and 215 Nm of torque between 2000 and 4000 RPM (license-built Mitsubishi 4G15) with a manual gearbox.
    • 2.0L turbo (Mitsubishi 4G63), with 177 h/p and 250 Nm at 2400-4400 RPM, with either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed robotic dual-clutch transmission.

Both are quite high-revving engines, with a noticeable turbo lag below 3000 RPM. These give the SUV a solid 9.3-9.7s to 100 km/h and a top speed of 180-188 km/h. The 1.5L will get around 8-10 litres per 100 km in the city, and 6-7 litres on the highway. The larger 2.0L version gets you, 10-12 litres and 7-9 litres, city and highway driving, respectively. Combined with a 60L fuel tank it allows for some substantial range.

Zotye T600: engine

The Zotye T600 uses a modified Hyundai Veracruz platform. It shares the same independent suspension, front and rear. Naturally, it also comes with disk brakes and hydraulic power steering.

Pricing

While not yet sold in Australia, internationally the three trim versions cost approximately 14 000, 16 000 and 18 000 AUD. The “Royal” 2.0L version with a DCT is about 24 000 AUD. The “Luxury” trim version includes the infotainment system, 2 airbags, A/C, LED running lights and all electric windows and mirrors. The “Royal” adds heated seats, dual-zone climate control, sunroof, parking sensors, automatic windshield wipers, hill start assist, keyless entry and much more. Note the exact trim versions and available features vary country-to-country. At the moment there’s no way of telling what finally comes to Australia.

Overall, you’re getting a lot of car for well under $20 000 AUD. If you don’t much care for the brand, and looking for a roomy SUV that you’re not planning to take off-road, this might be worth looking at. Zotye T600 has a lot of features you’ll never see in cars in this price range. Also it’s built on a well-tested platform, with Japanese-designed engines.

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