ANSWER: When it’s a Yema F16 SUV…
Believe it or not, beneath the SUV-style exterior of this somewhat utilitarian-looking vehicle lurks the heart and soul of the Austin Maestro…
The rights to the Maestro/Montego platform were passed to Yema in 2008 by FAW, which had been building a Montego-nosed Maestro van and various spin-off models under licence. The new owners went on to develop a Subaru Forester-esque SUV body around the Maestro underpinnings which, with Chinese-built engines made under licence from Toyota, have been in production for the past five years and are primarily seen in the Southern provinces of China.
Recently, Yema Auto has again come up with another way of extending the Maestro’s underpinnings, following on from the 2012 F12 SUV and F16 hatchbacks.
The F16 SUV is, apparently, an extension of the F12 model line extensively covered by Keith Adams at its launch in 2012, which you can read about here. Effectively a facelift of a facelift of a facelift of a facelift, the F16 shares part of its name with Yema’s Maestro-based Audi clone, the F16 hatchback. Appearance wise, it retains the rear end styling of a mid-2000s Subaru Forester, but with frontal styling reminiscent of the current Mitsubishi Outlander.
Based on the same 2,515mm wheelbase as the other F-Series SUVs, the F16 takes the range further, apparently, by adding a 1.8-litre engine developing 131bhp, alongside the existing 1.5-litre manual and 1.6-litre CVT models, all based on pensioned-off Toyota units.
Two trim levels are available – standard and ‘Luxurious’, which adds air conditioning and a smattering of fake wood – but, sadly, no Nicolette Mackenzie-voiced speech synthesiser.
As yet, no prices have been confirmed despite the model making its debut at the Chengdu Auto Show in the final quarter of 2014, though its predecessor sold for 70,000 Yuan (approx £7,400).