The 2014 Great Wall M4 crossover made headlines earlier this year by earning the title as the first car to receive the EEV incentive in Malaysia. Set to be assembled in Gurun, Kedah, the base model carries a starting price of around RM47k, while the range topper costs RM60k. While the car hasn’t officially been launched yet, Great Wall Malaysia has already started taking orders for its latest offering prior to its scheduled launch sometime next month.
With such an affordable price tag, you can think of it as a substitute to our own Perodua Kembara, which was popular among city folks as well as those who needed it to for some minor off roading duties such as getting in and out construction sites.
Great Wall Malaysia recently gave us a chance to take a manual variant of the imported (CBU) M4 that was brought in specifically as a preview to the media and public, for a short spin around Setia Alam. Before we move on to our first impression, let’s have a look at the specs and basics.
Engine and mechanics
Powering the M4 is a humble 1.5-litre VVT four-cylinder engine that outputs 105hp and 138Nm of torque. It can be paired with either a five-speed manual or six-speed automated manual transmission (Shiftronic).
For now, the B-segment model will be only offered in a front-wheel drive guise. According to the people at Great Wall, the reason for not offering an all-wheel drive version is because one’s not available in right-hand drive form yet.
From what we hear, the M4’s engine is built with design borrowed from Mitsubishi, while the six-speed automatic gearbox is sourced from Germany. On the other hand, the platform of the car is designed in house by the Chinese carmaker.
Features and equipment
As far as creature comforts go, you do get quite a lot of kit for the price you pay. Equipment such as a multifunction steering wheel, a tilt adjustable steering column, split fold rear seats and electrically adjustable side mirrors with integrated turn signals is standard on all variants.
Opting for the top of the Premium variant will buy you leather seats, a reverse camera, an around view camera system, automatic air-conditioning, GPS based car locator and a rear view mirror that doubles up with a smart-tag function. A special high-five for the around view monitor and smart-tag rear-view mirror!
Another plus point of the soon-to-be-launched Great Wall M4 is its safety. Four-wheel disc brakes, front seat belt reminders, ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), front and rear fog lamps, top tether child seat fixing points as well as two airbags are standard across the board.
The car shown in the pictures is the mid-range Comfort variant M4, but as stated before, it’s a CBU unit for now. The same variant when locally assembled will get minor interior upgrades that include a touchscreen infotainment with navigation and Bluetooth controls on the steering wheel. You can refer to the full spec sheet HERE to get a better idea of each variant’s specification.
The M4’s styling can’t be said to be pretty or handsome, but it is unique, and will therefore attract some attention. If you were to remove all the badging, its design is easily mistakable for something a bit more local, or Japanese even.
The fit and finish as well as the panel gaps however are not perfect. For example, there is a large opening under the wiper panel, which may allow water leakage into in the engine bay. The panel gap around the rear door and wheel arch is also quite large. We hope that Great Wall rectifies these problems on the locally-assembled units, although, we’re not too sure how much can be done.
Apart from a few minor things, there isn’t much to complain about here. The cabin design is on par with what its segment competitors have to offer, and we quite liked the digital fuel and temperature gauge. As expected, hard plastics are everywhere, but do bear in mind the sort of prices you’re paying here.
The humble 105hp 1.5-litre takes time to bring the car up to speed, but sustaining momentum isn’t a problem. The high clutch biting point plus the vague gear shift feel makes low speed manoverability slightly tricky but you will adapt to it after a few minutes. We will report on the six-speed automatic variant when we manage to get our hands on it.
Having tested it from both the front and rear seats, we found out that the Great Wall M4 actually rides quite well. It was fine at absorbing minor road undulations, while being composed when taking corners. The carmaker has also done a great job at giving the steering just the right weight.
Head and leg room at the rear is decent, but it will not be ideal for someone who is around or more than six feet tall. The boot space however is very shallow, due to the placement of the spare wheel.
Should you buy one?
Overall, we were quite impressed with the M4 compact SUV. It may have its weaknesses about it, but all things considered (price), it’s not a bad deal at all. It feels solid and packs similar equipment and safety feature as its price rivals, but offers a high-riding SUV seating position, SUV body style, and with that, a lot more spaciousness.
It’s hard to say for sure, especially with this being an imported unit out of China (CBU), but the signs are good so far. We’ll have to wait a while longer for the CKD unit to arrive before making a more accurate assessment outside of saying that it all looks very good on paper, for now.