The new Ben Ben mini car from Chang’an seems to be bringing cool styling down to the every day man, their latest incarnation of the Ben Ben is single handedly showing the rest of the Chinese car industry that domestic players can make exceptionally well designed cars that are able to compete with the global squad. How have Chang’an pulled off this feat? Well they hired international talent with international ideas, Chang’an were ahead of the curve in this department whilst other local brands are playing catch up.
Development of the latest Ben Ben was handed over to Chang-an’s Japanese development center where they were clearly allowed to throw away predisposed ideas about what Japanese design lines should be, flat like the current Honda and Toyota range, or given a major injection of South Korean inspired design that we would usually see in Kia or Hyundai vehicles. What an odd disposition to be in, it used to be the other way around in the automotive world, but Korean car designs are considered more ‘funky’ than their Japanese rivals. Under the hood a 1.2L or a 1.4L engine is available with the 1.4L already being used in Chang-an’s CX20.
The funky design doesn’t just end with the exterior, on the inside the Ben Ben continues to impress with its sporty, youthful design package. MG led the way into the 21st century by dumping the CD player, Chang-an have done this and gone a step further: They’ve dumped the gearstick! On higher spec Ben Ben’s you will find Chang-an’s new IMT gearbox which is basically an AMT system giving users a Jaguar inspired dial to select gears in automatic mode, but in manual mode users can select gears using the F1 flap pedals located behind the steering wheel. The dashboard is dominated by the large ‘infotainment’ center that as mentioned is without a CD player, CD’s are so 20th century whilst USB’s, iPod connectors and SDcards are the future of music. When was the last time you saw a music shop in China? I cant remember seeing one in recent history.
And how much for this car? No official prices have been revealed as of yet, but we suspect it will be in the 50,000RMB range and rise to 65-70,000RMB for the highest spec models with the IMT system. Personally speaking, if this had a Ford, Kia, or Chevrolet badge no doubt it would be a major seller in which ever market it went into.