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Hello,

I'm a foreigner living in Shanghail, about to buy my first car here. I'm looking for a cheap, small family car with a bit of nip that will be fun to drive whenever I manage to flee the congestion here. Must be manual transmission (I really dislike the feel of automatics).

I've been a bit disappointed with the range of cars on offer here -- I know that China is still a developing market, but I thought that since it was developing so rapidly, there would be more choices than my home country (the UK -- a fairly small market by all accounts).

The fact that each foreign brand has two separate JVs is a little annoying as you have to traipse to two separate dealerships to see their full line of cars.

Even worse, many of the options seem to only be available on the automatic variants, which is disappointing. Also, the base engine sizes seem to be smaller than their overseas counterparts.

I'd like to keep the price below RMB 13,000 or so.

Here is the shortlist we have come up with:

- Chang'an Ford Focus 1.8 Coupe. Fairly basic (sunroof only available on the much more expensive 2.0 model), but well built and solid drive.

- Chang'an Mazda 3. Not sure about this one as supply seems to be a bit limited, and the dealerships are a little odd. I love the 'Mazda look', but seems a bit light and plasticky.

- VW-FAW Bora 1.6T. This seems to be weird -- it doesn't seem to exist overseas. I think it's equivalent to a last-gen Jetta, but I can't find any reference to a 1.6 turbo -- only a 1.8 turbo. I think this would be fun to drive, assuming the 1.6 is not under-powered, and it looks 'ok'.

- Toyota Corolla 1.6. this seems to be very good value for money at around RMB 110k, and seems well-built, but it is less exciting than the other options. Reminds me a bit of the countless Santana taxis, albeit better built. Overseas it seems that the Corolla marque has been replaced by the Auris... is that true?

I'd appreciate any subjective opinions on these, or other options I might not have considered. I'm not sure of the relative quality of customer service between the brands / dealerships here, which Chinese JV partner has the best reputation for quality, or which has the most readily available spare parts. Also no idea on the relative crash safety results, or how those translate to Chinese-produced variants.
 

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Hi Petpirate:
The following JD Power survey results for 2008, although a bit dated, may be of some help.

http://www.jdpower.com/corporate/news/releases/pdf/2008238.pdf

Oddly enough there doesn't yet seem to be a homegrown consumer advocate group that publishes in both Chinese and English. I thought some enterprising and daring Chinese individual might take on the challenge by now. But there's still nothing more than a few bureaucratic offices which oversee the industry in a token way.

As far as foreign partners go, VW probably has the biggest parts and service network in China.
 

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Hey there...........

Welcome to the forum, PetPirate!! I just sent you a private message, so check that out. We both live here in China, so let's just TALK ok?? :thumb:
 

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if u can add a bit more why not consider the Honda Civic m/t? at 1.8l, should be the best in the pack plus the iVTEC at around 5000rpm, is just sweet.

just my 2 cents.
 

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Driving a manual in Shanghai....it would be your nightmare.

I'd say either the Focus or Mazda3 is a good choice, i'd go with either one of them if I were you, with a budget around 130K RMB.

I really don't recommend that fake Bora.
 

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Citroen C2 looks good and costs under 100,000 - it has some punch too capable of 0 - 100 in under 10 secs. The Roewe 550 basic model also just sneaks into your budget - great looking car (poorly designed interior though). Mazda 3 are nice cars. Suzuki SX4 is fun and personally I like the look of the Cruze (and at around 120,000 it's well within your budget - and it's manual). A basic (manual) Epica is also within your range with discounts.

You've really got a huge choice.

Don't forget you are going to have to add on around 10% with tax / insurance etc. as well as maybe RMB35,000 for your number plate. Even cheap cars aren't cheap here.

BTW - I don't see why driving a manual is so bad in Shanghai (yes, having lived here for 12 years I know there is a little bit of traffic) so long as your clutch is not like a stepper in the gym. Thousands of taxi drivers manage it and on every car I've had here (all but one with auto) I've spent more than 75% of my driving time with the car in 'manual' (as it were).
 

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How about VW FAW GTi 6th Gen? I don't live in China, but I think it will be best hit and best resell value to own.

Hope visit China next year near Shanghai area, Beijing, ShanDong area for market research.
 

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Focus is the best I would suggest.

Or just try a local one such as BYD F3 or Chery A3
 

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Hey there...........

Welcome to the forum, PetPirate!! I just sent you a private message, so check that out. We both live here in China, so let's just TALK ok??
 

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See if you can get the brilliance junjie with the 1.8T engine and manual tranny? I worked on the engine parts development so its got some good bits in and the car looks nice, even though I don't know how it drives.

If you are a driving enthusiast, check out the tianma circuit just outside shanghai where you can turn up and run the car on the track for very little money. Then realise why you would kick yourself if you got an automatic transmission. The traffic is heavy but there are some sports driving opportunities here and there if you look for them, especially if you try hard enough.

tianma's website is somethign like stc2002.com although it's mostly in chinese. for the best footage of what it's like to go round, you know where to look - fightingtorque.com or hunt me down on youtube .

I've been in shangers for a couple of days this week. Sure has been some road building going on recently.
 
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