Although the Chinese Dongfeng under Bidli Auto didn’t get off to a great start here, it seems that this year’s reboot helped the brand take the right direction. In addition to standard models such as the Fengon 5 or Glory 500, domestic imports also started to import into the Czech Republic a bold T5 EVO SUV that looks like a Chinese Porsche, or a disguised Navara named DF 6.
Even the last quarter was not stingy with news, as one internal combustion player named U-Tour entered the almost dead MPV segment, and the category of affordable cars was enriched by the sedan Aeolus Shine, which we exclusively tested in the form of an approval prototype.
With exterior dimensions of 4,660 x 1,812 x 1,490 mm, this eastern newcomer is similar to Skoda’s Octavia, which boasts dimensions of 4,689 x 1,829 x 1,470 mm in liftback form. The Shine even has a wheelbase of 2,680 mm, while the Škoda has 2,669 mm. However, the relationship with the Mladá Boleslav icon ends there.
You can tell from the design alone that it is a special design. The nose consists practically only of an extra-wide grille, which is followed by a pair of halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights. Between the lamps there is a transparent bar with the inscription Aeolus, where we could imagine, for example, backlighting, but there is nothing like that in this design.
The side silhouette does not need to be described in particular, it is only worth mentioning that the car has an interesting aerodynamic coefficient Cx 0.25 (according to imported materials), which is, for example, better than the fourth Fabia (Cx 0.28), but worse than the fourth Octavia liftback ( C x 0.24). In any case, from the side, the vehicle looks like a liftback body, but only when the trunk lid is raised, covering the volume of 454 liters, will you reveal that you are looking at a sedan.
By the way, the trunk lid can only be opened with a button from the inside or by pressing the selector on the key, otherwise not. Although we don’t really understand this saving and consider it a crime against ergonomics, on the other hand, we have to admit that the fifth Toyota Supra also has such an unfortunate solution.
The back doesn’t look moderate either. Raised lamps visually enlarge the car, which is also helped by the massive rear bumper with decorative exhaust tips. The rear window is then heated as standard, without a rear wiper, as is customary for sedans (except selected Japanese ones).
The overall impression of the car is not bad, but at first glance you can tell that the wild shapes and various folds are just ordinary-looking molded plastics meant to evoke a far more luxurious design than the car actually has. In short, it is a tax at a low price, which is actually understandable.
If you were expecting only plastic inside, we’d be right, but unlike Dacia, the manufacturer didn’t skimp on artificial leather upholstery or colorful decorations. It is true that the combination of black, orange and light white will not suit everyone, especially when some components are decorated with carbon print.
The artificial leather-upholstered seats tuned to the sports hall, i.e. without an adjustable headrest, did not leave a bad impression on us. In general, the artificiality here looks at you from everywhere, however, thanks to the thorough camouflage, the cabin does not seem as “cheap” as the plastic kingdom from Romania (Dacia).
The (something like) foam steering wheel is also specially shaped, which is not at all hard to the touch. When creating it, the manufacturer also thought about ergonomics, so he added two meaningful biceps at the top, which prevent the thumbs from slipping, while the two lower ones are probably just for show.
On the arms of the steering wheel we find the control buttons, while the left part deals with the cruise control, the pictograms of which, except for the activation one, can be found on the instrument panel. The right part increases the volume or switches songs, and the bottom button switches four functions of the on-board computer. There is also one of two airbags and a horn. The steering wheel can’t do more than that.
We also started the instrument panel, to which we will briefly detour. On the one hand, its readability and easy brightness adjustment can be praised, and you can also choose either a blue or red graphic interface. The digital tachometer has its place at the bottom center, and if you’re nearing the limiter, the rpm numbers turn red.
The center of everything is the 13-inch vertically oriented touch screen located below, which, in addition to a few settings, also has a radio, music player, bluetooth connectivity to a mobile phone and a phone mirroring function via the CarbitLink-EasyConnection application.
We know from practice that this app doesn’t work more than it does. And if it works, it will mirror your mobile screen with everything. So you turn the mobile, the display turns. You turn off the mobile screen, the display in the car turns off. The arrow icon located on the left evokes navigation, however it was not available in this basic approval prototype and is not to be found in the official equipment list either.
The lower part of the screen then belongs to the automatic air conditioning, where we scold the manufacturer for not placing the pictogram of heating the rear glass + mirrors on the main area. To activate this function, you must first press the pictogram of the seat and the flow direction, which will take you to the air conditioning sub-menu (golden buttons!).
Here you will have to get used to higher temperatures. That is, in order for the exhausts to emit pleasant lukewarm air suitable for autumn weather, you must set the temperature on the display to 26 degrees Celsius. Europeans and Chinese probably have slightly different thermal perception.
Finally, we will also mention the basic equipment, which is relatively decent and unchanged apart from the additional metalwork. The standard features include keyless entry and start, light sensor, 2x airbags, parking camera, cruise control, electric parking brake, automatic air conditioning, digital instrument panel, central control with remote control, electrically operated windows and mirrors with heating or, for example, alloy wheels and disc brakes on both axles.
You will probably say to yourself that you would replace some elements with heated seats, for example, but believe us, it is much cheaper for manufacturers today to use artificial leather instead of fabric, or a digital instrument panel instead of an analog one. Inside, savings were made in many places, but it is also partly successfully camouflaged.
It’s not just for the city
The driving heart of the model is a newly developed atmospheric four-cylinder 1.5 liter engine, which is structurally based on its turbocharged variant. If you are already happy that it will be a suitable engine for short city routes, we will slow you down a bit. The motorization uses direct fuel injection, which is a modern and economical technology, but not intended for long-term very short trips.
In any case, the engine reaches a maximum output of 86 kW, which is just under 117 horsepower. The torque of 158 Nm then travels exclusively to the front axle via a five-speed manual. The latter uses independent suspension, while the rear is (unexpectedly) trailed.
Since the manufacturer opted for 205/55 R16 tires, there are no low-profile tires, so the Shine does not seem uncomfortable. Neither the bodywork nor the plastics creak, which is a sign that the production process, torsional rigidity of the frame and output control have been mastered by the automaker.
The power steering itself is set to a relatively comfortable mode, so turning the steering wheel even on the spot goes like butter. On the other hand, it means less response from the wheels, but it’s probably nothing to worry about in an affordable sedan. After all, you will only use this car to drive from A to B, rather than racing it or doing other tricks.
Overall, Aeolus Shine cannot be described as lazy, even if the paper values are not spectacular. However, you have to take into account the car’s lower weight of 1.2 tons and also the decently adjusted transmission, which is not primarily adapted to the city. On the contrary, the individual qualities are designed in such a way that it is calculated that you will also drive through districts and here and there on highways with the car. The combined consumption (measured by us) was around seven liters per hundred.
The overall driving impression is generally positive in line with the price, which the whole car actually corresponds to. Although the design may seem kitsch to some, we, on the other hand, see the manufacturer’s effort not to skimp on everything that can be seen at any cost.
In any case, the Dongfeng Aeolus Shine can now be ordered and will cost CZK 419,900 including VAT until the end of this year, while the only possible additional charge from the official price list is metallic paint for CZK 16,490 including tax. The model is then covered by a three-year warranty. Finally, we must mention that we tested the approval prototype, i.e. the finished car, but not yet approved (hence the F-type markings). It is therefore possible that the composition of the equipment may change or be gradually improved in the future.
|Specifications||Dongfeng Aeolus Shine|
|Motor||gasoline inline four-cylinder|
|Displacement volume||1,496 cm3|
|Performance||86 kW (116.9 hp) at 6,000 rpm|
|Torque||158 Nm at 4,500 rpm.|
|Transmission||manual, 5 degrees|
|Standby weight||1 203 kg|
|Maximal speed||175 km/h|
|Consumption (preliminary)||6.0 l/100 km|
|Fuel tank volume||50 l|
|Wheels and tires||205/55 R16|
|Dimensions (length/width/height)||4 660/1 812/1 490 mm|
|Wheelbase||2 680 mm|
|Volume of the luggage compartment||454 l|