Armoured Mobility’s OEM-approved Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max, with the firm’s signature “Discreet” B4-rated armouring package, serves as a lower entry point, in terms of price and specification, into the armoured vehicle market. Ryan de Villiers got to sample the Chinese SUV which can withstand armed assaults.
Since 2019, the South Africa Police Service has recorded a year-on-year increase in reported carjackings, among other crimes. In the wake of worsening public road safety fueled by a rise in criminal activity, preventative measures such as armoured vehicles have become a commodity for many motorists, subsequently aiding in the growth of the local armoured vehicle industry.
Armoured Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max 390T Executive Fast Facts
- Price: R1 299 900
- Engine: 2.0-litre, turbocharged petrol, four-cylinder
- Power: 187 kW @ 5 500 r/min
- Torque: 390 N.m from 1 750 r/min to 4 000 r/min
- Transmission: seven-speed automated dual-clutch
- Driven wheels: Front
What are we driving?
The Chery brand’s reputation has been bolstered as the firm continued expanding its local lineup, with its entry-level Tiggo 4 drawing significant interest from the local consumer base, ultimately outperforming its closest rivals in sales. While the Tiggo 4 is an entry point into the Chery brand, the much larger and more luxurious Tiggo 8 Pro Max oversees the Chinese firm’s local stables in price and specification.
Armoured Mobility volunteered their latest project to spawn from the Sandton-based factory, an armour-clad Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max 2.0TDI 390T Executive. The Pro Max derivative is distinguished from the Pro Executive model by its upgraded luxury and safety features. In the words of Chery South Africa’s Executive Deputy General Manager, Tony Liu, “The Tiggo 8 Pro MAX is the perfect birthday gift to our fans. It offers more power, more safety, and more features than ever before and, as such, it is the perfect personification of the Chery value promise”.
When it debuted, the Tiggo 8 with the “Pro Max” suffix cost R629 900, and since then has increased to R669 900, which is R60 000 more than the Tiggo 8 Pro model. Compared to its rivals, the Chinese five-door SUV has outperformed some of its segment rivals, such as the Hyundai Grand Creta and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, in terms of sales.
What’s new on the Armoured Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max 390T Executive?
Armoured Mobility’s Chery Tiggo 8 has undergone the firm’s armouring process and is now laden with a medley of B4-rated bullet-resistant materials such as Kevlar, Dyneema, and ballistic glass. The B4 armour protects vehicle occupants against projectiles from most handguns, including 9mm to .357 magnum. Armouring on B4 vehicles is more conservative in comparison to the B6-rated vehicles. Stripped down to a bare chassis, a customer’s Tiggo 8 Pro Max will receive a medley of ballistic elements to construct an armoured capsule capable of affording occupants 360 degrees of protection.
The A, B, C, and D pillars are armoured along with the roof, front/rear doors, and the cargo area. Additional components introduced to the Tiggo 8 include run-flat steel band tyres and a push-to-talk intercom system. Armoured Mobility claims that its B4 armouring package adds 140 kg, making it one of the lighter B4-armoured vehicles within its segment.
Why is the Armoured Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max 390T Executive significant?
Armoured Mobility’s Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max is significant for three reasons. Firstly, aside from likely being the only armoured Chery Tiggo in South Africa, the Armoured Mobility Tiggo 8 Pro Max is OEM-approved. Chery SA’s stamp of approval allows consumers to retain their factory warranty and invest in vehicle armouring.
Secondly, armoured vehicles are a costly commodity which has remained financially unattainable for many motorists, while the need for these vehicles has increased. From April 2023 to June 2023, SAPS recorded that of the total 5 488 carjackings, 1 582 were bakkies while 2 591, which represented the majority of the types of vehicles that were involved in the reported carjackings, were sedans, hatchbacks and coupes. Of the 5 488 carjackings recorded, 2 735 of those reported cases happened in Gauteng. Armoured Mobility’s offering establishes a lower entry point into the armoured vehicle market, previously populated almost exclusively by high-income consumers.
Finally, a key aspect of the armoured Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max is its “Discreet” armouring package, which recognises the appeal and necessity of imbuing vehicles with bullet-resistant capabilities without highlighting any added armour. This specific offering is purposed to provide customers with better protection against crimes such as hijackings, robberies, and smash-and-grab attempts.
What is the Armoured Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max 390T Executive like to drive?
The bustling Sandton streets were the testing ground for our stint in the armoured Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max.
It’s important to note that during the armouring process, a vehicle is stripped down to a bare chassis and then outfitted with the B4 or B6 armour, whereafter the car is put back together. This is important because the fit and finish of the armoured vehicle have to match that of the manufacturer. That said, the cabin of the armoured Chery appeared undisturbed. What was noticeable was the thicker bullet-resistant glass. A caveat that comes as a product of the armoured glass is the comprise of being unable to fully roll down the driver and passenger windows (an issue the firm has stated it intends to solve).
The restricted movement of the windows becomes a slight annoyance when entering parking garages or any toll booth and requires you to exit the vehicle to operate. Additionally, the sunroof glass has been omitted in favour of an armoured plate. The 140 kg added weight isn’t a discernable detraction from the driving experience or a hindrance to the performance of the 187 kW/390 N.m powerplant. Consider it akin to driving with two fully grown passengers in the cabin.
A noteworthy element of the driving experience, which applies to most armoured vehicles, is the added sense of security. Acknowledging that you, as a driver, are protected from most encounters that could occur on public roads results in an added sense of security, ultimately resulting in a less stressful driving experience.
Armoured vehicles are a useful tool that any motorist would benefit from, given their purpose to provide protection that suits the needs of the average motorist, but they are still costly investments that many consumers can’t afford. Armoured Mobility has its Chery Tiggo 8 Pro Max listed on their website for R1.3 million, double the price of a regular Tiggo 8 Pro Max. The option of an armoured vehicle priced below R1.5 million is a welcomed sight, compared to the +R2 million armoured bakkies and premium SUVs.