The Chery J1 is Australia's most affordable car. With a $1000 cashback deal recently announced, the little hatch has a $1000 advantage over Proton's S16 and a nearly $1500 advantage over the Suzuki Alto.
This week, a new round of crash testing by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program has seen the J1 given a 3-Star crash safety rating - an 'award' it now shares with the Proton S16. Both fall short of the Alto's 4-Star rating.
Compared to the engineering and passive safety standards of most global brands outside of China, the J1's crash test results may worry some buyers.
Both the front offset test and side impact testing demonstrated poor protection from serious chest injuries for the driver.
Describing the frontal offset crash test, the ANCAP report reads: "[The Chery J1] lost structural integrity in the frontal offset crash test at 64km/h, which would result in considerable injury risk for the occupants."
"We were concerned over the lack of head-protecting side airbags and electronic stability control on this model. These life-saving features are available on competing models from other manufacturers – many of which have a 5-star ANCAP rating," the report reads.
Engineers from Chery's home offices in China attended the testing, and improved safety features are understood to be in development for future updates.
Currently, the J1 offers only dual front airbags, without the option for additional airbags. Front seatbelt tensioners are standard, along with ABS and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution.
Electronic Stability Control is not offered with the J1, making it illegal for sale in Victoria, where ESC became mandatory on all new cars from January 1 this year.
ESC is expected to be fitted to the J1 ahead of the federal deadline in November. Once fitted, the J1 will then also be available in Victoria.