A 500KM Philippine Road Trip With The 2022 Changan CS35 Plus

A 500KM Philippine Road Trip With The 2022 Changan CS35 Plus

We traversed over 500 kilometers with the 2022 Changan CS35 Plus in a span of just 3 days. Within those days, we’ve driven the crossover over various types of terrain such as asphalt, dirt, and accumulated thunderstorm floodwater while climbing mountain twisties with sharp ascent angles. Here are the reasons why we thoroughly enjoyed our time in its cabin and eventually fell in love with it – going as far as labeling it one of the very best in its segment.

Modern Look Fits In Everywhere

Pulling up to the driveway of the exclusive Anvaya Country Club, the CS35 Plus felt right at home. Its angular front grille and sporty exterior bits (such as a dual-exit exhaust) do give off a bit more road presence than you would expect from its size. Red accents also blend in some personality and aggression to its serious Timber Wolf Grey tone.

Things only get better at night when its aircraft-inspired lights are activated. These light strips give off a futuristic aura, ensuring that you wouldn’t be ashamed of being ferried in one of these units. The wheel design is also the furthest thing from bland and don’t look cheap at all.

Some even got curious enough to approach and find out that the interior is as attractive as the outside. This eventually led to questions of “What car is that?”

Peppy Engine and Transmission Characteristics

Nestled in the 2022 Changan CS35 Plus is a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT). This arrangement makes around 160PS to the crank. Numbers sometimes don’t translate to real-world performance, and the same thing happens here for reasons you may not expect.

The feeling of propulsion in the vehicle goes beyond what the numbers indicate. Stepping on the accelerator of the CS35 for the first time gave us quite a shock. The turbo kicks in extremely early, which means it has EV-esque torque at its disposal. This gets it up to highway speeds rather quickly and gives you enough confidence that overtaking won’t be an issue. You can also hear the turbo spooling during acceleration, which is unexpected and a nice touch for gearheads like ourselves.

Another awesome inclusion is the 7-speed DCT. It’s much better-feeling than any CVT out there and manages to avoid any issues of lower-end DCTs like wonky shifting and difficulties with stop-and-go traffic. Sure, it’s not comparable to a Volkswagen DSG or a Porsche PDK, but we’d go as far as saying that this is one of (if not) the best transmission at this price point right now.

Keep in mind that our experiences also include traversing an uphill mountain road with a full cabin of 4 adults, luggage, and weekend groceries. The Changan CS35 Plus took the additional weight like a champ. Never did we wish we had more power, nor did we ever have to downshift to keep the car within the realms of boost. In both automatic and manual shifting modes, the transmission never felt confused or out of its element. It was a tall task, but we were able to even tail a Land Rover Defender on these curves!

Comfortable Cabin Cruising

The CS35 Plus comes installed with front McPherson Struts and Rear Torsion Beams as its suspension setup. These are obviously attuned towards the softer side, with the brand’s main priority being a pillowy city experience.

On normal city streets and well-paved highway runs, it performs admirably. The crossover glides over the road with minimal noise coming from the engine. The silence is mostly broken by passing air and the road, but they’re only really audible if you are the type to turn off all the music while driving along.

Once we passed the developed areas on our way to our provincial destination, the streets seemed to decrease in quality altogether. Unfinished roads seemed to be the norm, with deep potholes and hideous lumps aplenty. We saw this as another challenge for our steed.

Surprisingly, the vehicle took these bumps with grace. As long as you exercise care with the deeper holes, the suspension is able to handle navigating these imperfections without a sweat. It did bottom out a little when we failed to spot a hole in pitch-black darkness, but it bounced right back up along with the passengers in the rear seats.

This could also be attributed to its ground clearance with nothing hanging from its underbelly, allowing us to soldier on through a thunderstorm that occurred on our way home.

Despite the vehicle’s softness and non-sporting intent, it handled curves and turns splendidly. While the driver did mention that the cushiness of the suspension killed a bit of road feel, the overall body roll was minimal and the crossover felt natural while navigating the sharper corners among the mountain twisties. The confidence it provided gave us the impression that it was a versatile all-rounder.

Practical For The Everyday Lifestyle

One of the most fun parts of every vacation is some spontaneous grocery shopping. When you’re already in high spirits and looking forward to the trip, you tend to put any interesting thing you can find in the shopping cart regardless of quantity or realistic consumption. That is exactly what happened to us – and by the time we realized our overshopping mistake, it was too late to take it all back.

We took the cargo cover off the top and began an intricate game of baggage tetris. After some sweaty strategizing, everything managed to fit and none of the items had to be taken to the second row. As a result, our rear passengers were still as comfortable as ever and the road trip continued without a hitch.

Interior space was also a non-issue. We jokingly placed our 6-footer friend in the rear seats, but no adjustment was required whatsoever from the person in front. Headroom is also generous and teeters on expansive with the sunroof cover hidden beneath the chassis.

The last point for the practicality that some seem to overlook is fuel economy. A test conducted by the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) rates the Changan CS35 Plus at 21.49 kilometers per liter on the highway and 15.25 in the city. We expected much less than that considering our unnatural cabin weight, heavy-footedness, and extreme traffic jams encountered at certain sections.

Despite all these factors coming into play, we only used its full tank of 53 liters and around 8 more for this journey totaling 550km or so. That averages out to approximately 9.01 km/l – noticeably lower than the estimates, but under much rougher conditions. That’s much better than what our personal daily vehicles would do given identical treatment so we were undeniably pleased with this result.

A shot with the @cmdrives.ph Defender.

Intelligent Technology

As a page for the technologically inclined, it is impossible for us not to look at the gadgetry side of things even with our car reviews. It is easy to dismiss this section when you realize the Changan CS35 Plus, unfortunately, doesn’t come equipped with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay; but the disappointment ends there. Bluetooth works wonders anyways.

This crossover is riddled with technology, and you’ll realize it the moment you lay your smartphone in its cubby and the “wireless charging” indicator comes on. A 360-camera button is located just right below the shifter, and toggling it does wonders for beginner drivers and parking. You can access an aerial view of the car as well as a simulation of the vehicle itself with a live stitched-together video of all angles. No more gutter scratches or accidents with this one!

The same can be said about its 10-inch center dashboard display. Speed and RPMs are shown via tiny indicators, but the screen at the center summarizes all your driving activity as well as displays necessary information. You can even configure an assortment of themes to fit the mood, whether it’s a calmer blue or racy red.

The car’s central head unit also acts as the primary information hub in the vehicle. As such, it features respectable screen resolution and brightness with adjustable themes. We suspect this is running on a certain version of Android but Changan has done well to refine the UI enough that it doesn’t feel like just a programmed tablet at all. Admittedly, some glitches found their way into the software but this was an occurrence that happened once or twice in a week of use.

One big surprise we had is the fact that the steering feel can be adjusted via this central display. Setting it in “comfortable” was apparent and made the wheel extremely light and effortless, ideal for senior citizens or beginner drivers. “Sport,” on the other hand, increased steering feel and gave drivers a better feel of the road. We left it in this setting most of the time.

Ideal for use this summer, the panoramic sunroof can be opened to add airiness to the cabin. We do admit that there were times one of our friends stuck his head out to feel the night breeze and emulate a young-adult novel protagonist in the flesh. While this is good fun and resulted in laughs, it also allowed the passengers to breathe in the fresh, cold mountain air. We quickly discovered that the skies are much starrier in the provinces due to the lack of light pollution!

Safety Is A Priority

Our final point but absolutely one of the most important is the safety suite. The Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) works wonders and follows the car in front of you with no issues at all. If the vehicle in front brakes, the CS35 Plus does as well – and the same applies to acceleration. The driver can even adjust the distance, measured in car lengths.

Lane-keep assists, Front Collision Warning, and Emergency Braking all did their jobs splendidly but can also be turned off for experienced drivers. These features do well to keep the car on the road where it should be and could save thousands of lives by preventing accidents. In case contact is unavoidable, the 6-airbag system will do its best to cushion the impact and keep occupants out of harm’s way.

Changan CS35 Plus Price Philippines

The Changan CS35 Plus comes in three variants:

  • Lite: PHP 999,000
  • Hype: PHP 1,149,000
  • Luxe: PHP 1,169,000

Considering everything we’ve said, this is only the middle-range Hype version we have on-hand. As far as we know, the Luxe version receives some special touches like a Black Roof, but we’ll keep you posted if there are other goodies that come with the highest trim model. At its price, it is serious competition that anyone on a budget should consider.

Click here to learn more about this car.


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