The other week, I passed by Lifan Motors Philippines along West Avenue in Quezon City. The line of Philippine Lifan 320s caught my eye because they were arranged so neatly in a row, like a row of Mini-Coopers. That actually was the reason these China-made cars caught my attention.
"Look at that, honey," I said to my wife, "Mini-Coopers!"
"Those aren't Mini-Coopers," she replied.
I took a second look and realized she was right. But they looked so similar, so I told her I wanted to stop the car and go down; she gave in and allowed me to, so I walked into the Quezon City Lifan dealership to inquire about the Lifan 320, which is their Mini-Cooper doppelganger.
I was surprised by how similar the Lifan 320 looked to the Mini-Cooper. Of course, getting a Chinese car that looks precisely like the Mini-Cooper but is not the Mini-Cooper is kinda like buying a fake Rolex and expecting people to believe that it's a genuine Rolex. Several comments in this Philippine car forum make a lot of sense, methinks, noting that Chinese cars have yet to prove their mettle for long-term durability and reliability.
Having said this, though, I have to admit I wasn't taken aback by the Lifan 320; if anything, I was rather impressed. Comparing the car to my Getz, it had smaller leg room in the driver's area, and slightly smaller trunk space. It also had a rather comical looking dashboard that I think has probably earned the car more jeers than cheers. I mean, come on, look at that dashboard! Two round airconditioning vents, a red hazard light, and a radio display in the shape of a semi-circle? It looks like the 1930s Mickey Mouse!
On the plus side, its 1.3 engine means it has more power than my 1.1 Getz does. The Philippine Lifan 320 has ABS, which my Hyundai Getz does not, and four speakers compared to my Hyundai Getz's two. Its engine looked very impressive - of course, I wouldn't know the first thing about engines! There really should be a class! - and, well, let's face it, even if the Lifan 320 is a rip-off of the Mini-Cooper, it still is remarkably cute!
The 1.3 model begins to retail for Php498,000, which was the same price we paid for our 1.1 Hyundai Getz three years ago. I honestly would like to test-drive it, but we're not in the financial place for a second car, so I want to avoid that temptation. (If I do, you'll bet I'll write about it.)
However, I gotta admit, I am believing God for a second car, and my God is a God of miracles, so who knows? Maybe the Lord will pave the way for me to somehow, someday, own a Lifan 320. (Heads up: my dream car is the Volkswagen New Beetle in classic yellow or beautiful bold red. I like small cars.
Lifan 320 Dashboard photo lifted off BigBigCar.com; no copyright infringement intended.
Listening to: Aaron Gillespie We Were Made For You