News : When is a Maestro not a Maestro?

Craig Cheetham


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…

It's hard to believe that beneath all this lurks the infrastructure of an Austin Maestro...
It’s hard to believe that beneath all this lurks the infrastructure of an 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.

FAW's Monstrovan....
FAW’s Monstrovan….

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.

Yema's F16 hatchback - even a Maestro can look like an Audi.
Yema’s F16 hatchback – even a Maestro can look like an Audi.

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).

Craig Cheetham


  1. When you look at the Yemas I think there’s possibly more Montego estate than Maestro in them. However, what’s really odd is how they make so few vehicles, eg the Subaru “clones”, but can carry on – the tooling costs must be horrendous in comparison – maybe there’s a lot of state subsidy relatively hidden in the Chinese car industry

    • You have probably hit the nail on the head re state support. The only way these fly-by-night organisations could possibly fund all these low volume models and get away with such blatant rip-offs. Its interesting that the likes of Audi and Land Rover only seem mildly irritated by these copyright infringements. I suspect they understand that todays Chinese consumers are as sophisticated and informed as you will find anywhere and would not be seen dead driving a Maestro based Audi knock off!

  2. How much Maestro is left after reworking a reworked version of a reworked rework?

    Must be a “Trigger’s Broom” by now?

  3. China used to make a copy of the Mercedes 190 in the eighties, I think this was their first mass produced car as in the Mao era, cars were extremely rare.

  4. Does the F16 hatchback speed, tailgate and get driven by people with anger management/ aggression issues like a real Audi?

  5. You know, no matter what ever else happens in the world, we can still love the cars that came from our beloved Longbridge, cars that became unloved and unwanted here, are finding homes elsewhere, whether they are in India, as Taxi’s, the cars above, or the Rover 75 in China as various other brands, the brands might have died here, but elsewhere, they continue to light the way to a new brighter MG future, and you never know, if rumblings are correct, an all new joint venture brand with JLR and Chery, which has been seen before……..

  6. Somehow I suspect that the outer glitz will not be reflected in performance, driveability or safety. Although I have a grudging respect for the old Maestro, surely the poor old thing deserves to die in peace! What the Chinese are doing is worse than a Hindustan Ambassador or Khodo Paykan (Iranian Hillman Hunter for those who don’t remember).

    • Please don’t knock the beloved Hindustan Ambassador.

      I remember 25 years ago being piloted up to Srinigar by an absolute maniac who clearly believed in reincarnation, isuzu turbo diesel engine thrumming away, treadless cross ply tires squealing as we tested the outer limits of the winding mountain passes, with the beautiful Kashmir valley stretching out thousands of feet below the non existent guard rails. Most comfortable rear seat I’ve ever nearly died of fear in. Aah happy days.

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