News Detail

The Changan UNI-V Might Be The Best-Looking Chinese Sedan Ever

Issuing time:2022-06-13 15:50

What is it?

The Changan UNI-V represents a category that we certainly hope to see continue to grow, the compact sports sedan. This segment was reignited earlier this year with the debut of the GAC Trumpchi Empow, which didn’t blow us away with its performance, but did offer a good balance of capability and affordability.On paper, the UNI-V should be able to do even better.

Changan UNI-V.jpg

Undeniable Good Looks

The UNI sub brand arguably has one of the strongest design languages available from a Chinese automaker. The brand’s distinctive design helped its first model, the UNI-T coupe SUV, to separate from the crowd, and the same can certainly be said for the UNI-V. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is possibly the best-looking Chinese sedan available today, and it certainly outclasses the guppy-faced look of the Empow.

Key to this accomplishment, in addition to that dramatic front-end design, is a sleek, liftback roofline. But unlike so many vehicles we review (particularly EVs), this doesn’t just look like a liftback, it IS a liftback. Beyond offering good looks, it also results in 51-liters of cargo space vs. the 47 of the GAC Empow and its traditional trunk.


The exterior design of the UNI-V was penned in Changan’s design studio in Turin, Italy, and it must be said that the liftback roofline has undeniable similarities to certain Audi models. Something else it shares with Audi’s is a retractable rear spoiler, making it the cheapest car we’ve ever seen to feature this tech. Changan says that it offers an extra 25 kg of downforce at high speeds. Not very useful on your daily commute, but it certainly looks cool.

Like a Budget Lambo

Considering its low price point, the UNI-V is quite well-equipped. Our top of the range model came with automatic parking, adaptive cruise control, heated and cooled driver’s seat, and a suite of safety features like automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and a built-in dash camera.

The interior design looks like it might be home on some kind of high-end sports car, all sharp angles and bright colors. The screen layout includes a 10.3-inch infotainment screen and a matching your instrument cluster. The instrument cluster is augmented by two smaller screens either side that provide additional information, like your fuel gauge, outside temp, etc. It’s a nice setup that allows vital information to be more easily discerned. DSC01911.jpg

There are some pretty hard plastics throughout, but the kind that you would expect for a car that runs from 16,500 USD to about 20,000 USD. The ergonomics are good in some areas, bad in others. In the good column you have the row of buttons just forward of the transmission lever, which fall to hand quite easily, though, they are difficult to read in certain lighting conditions. There’s also the “Super Race” button, but we’ll get to that later.

The bad should be pretty obvious; that strange, oblong steering wheel left us at a loss as to what advantages it brings over a traditional round wheel. It doesn’t make the car undriveable, but it seems like a case of being different simply because they can, rather than because it improves the driving experience. DSC01912.jpg

In the back, rear headroom is slightly compromised by the design, but still decent for a car in this class. The seating position, including the height and the length of the seats, is actually quite comfortable, especially when compared to the Empow.

Not Much Fizz to be Found

Under the hood of the UNI-V is a 1.5 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 138 kilowatts and 300 Nm of torque (185 hp and 222 pound-feet) and backed by a 7-speed DCT. The 1.5T is currently the only engine available, but there will be a 2.0-liter option later this year and an extended-range EV powertrain sometime next year. DSC01907.jpg

The engine is obviously a major component of what separates a sports sedan from its more pedestrian brethren, and it’s also where the UNI-V starts to show its true colors. To put it simply, the 1.5T and 7-speed DCT in the UNI-V aren’t a particularly characterful combination.

The engine makes max power at 5500 RPM, and max torque is available from 1500 to 4000 RPM. The latter number is more important in daily driving, as it means that you spend most of your time in the meat of the torque band. Thing is, that’s true of nearly every modern, small-displacement turbocharged engine.

The GAC Empow has a 1.5T that puts down slightly lower numbers than the UNI-V, but it actually feel faster than the UNI-V on the road. The first reason is that the Empow seems to have more aggressive throttle tuning, giving you a more significant sense of thrust with just a touch of the pedal. DSC01848.jpg

The other reason is a little bit more subjective, and that has to do with the exhaust note. The The UNI-V’s exhaust simply isn’t as loud or aggressive as the Empow, affecting your subjective sense of speed. Once you get moving, though, the 7-speed in the UNI-V is superior to that of the Empow in both the speed and smoothness of its shifts.

Despite the addition of a strut tower brace up front, the UNI-V doesn't have an especially stiff suspension. That's not all bad, as it results in a very comfortable ride over speed bumps and other imperfections. The trade-off comes in the form of body roll, which rears its ugly head the second you throw the UNI-V into a corner with any sporting purpose. For most people, it’s a reasonable compromise to make, as it makes the UNI-V a more ideal commuter than the more stiffly sprung Empow.DSC01870.jpg

As for that “Super Race” button on the dash, it’s probably writing checks that the UNI-V cannot cash. Pressing it activates the car’s sportiest driving mode, and opens a special menu on the center screen. The menu gives you the option to raise or lower the wing, turn the ESC completely off (something you can’t do in the Empow), and allows you to activate launch mode. The launch mode is a pretty undramatic affair, keeping the revs at around 1800 RPM. A gret deal of fanfare then, but not a great deal of substance.


Changan’s UNI sub brand is increasingly known for offering a lot of style for a little bit of money, and the UNI-V is no different. This time, however, it's backed up by driving dynamics that, while they don't match up to a true sports sedan, could certainly make your daily commute just a little bit more fun.

Login by:
My Profile
leave a message
back to the top