February 12, 2021 By Paolo de Borja Photos by Nicolas Calanoc

Review: 2021 Geely Okavango Urban Plus

Geely listened, and they delivered

No longer are our options limited to what the sometimes-overpriced models of what established brands have to offer. Aside from wider selections, people carriers such as Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPV) have come a long way from its purely utility roots. Convenience features such as infotainments systems, faux leather seats, and driver assistance technology have come into play in recent years. All this while distinguishing themselves from crossovers and SUVs with a more affordable price tag. With its recent launch of the Okavango 7-Seater, Geely Philippines looks to take a lead in such criteria. At a price ranging from PhP 1.2 million to just below PhP 1.5 million, the Okavango slots in at an interesting area as it touches both crossovers and the top variants of a number of MPVs.  Now, Geely Philippines has labeled the Okavango as a mid-sized crossover but it could also be argued as an MPV. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Geely has had a remarkable presence in the local market since its arrival not too long ago. The Coolray has catapulted itself atop the compact crossover segment with regards to sales and appeal to the general consumer. It’s one of the few China-branded cars that Filipinos have learned to appreciate. And for good reason, it’s a car that they are willing to bet on. The stylish exterior along with the pleasant and European-like interior truly captures the attention of most. This was followed by the release of the Azkarra in early 2020 – providing a capable rival to heritage models such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and the Subaru Forester to name a few. The Okavango is no different and strategically slots in in-between the two commendable models. And it’s interesting that they added a new variant in the Urban Plus roughly just three months after the model was introduced in the Philippines. But we’ll get more to
that later.

Under the hood of the Geely Okavango is still a 1.5-liter inline-3 turbocharged gasoline engine that’ connected to a 7-speed wet dual-clutch transmission. Yes, a 1.5-liter motor powers this 1,590 kg significantly-sized MPV. It’s of course worth mentioning that the engine is assisted by a 48-volt mild hybrid system. The gasoline engine alone makes around 170 bhp but total output is bumped up to 190 bhp when coupled with the mild hybrid system. The predictability of the power in quite commendable even in lower speeds. It does not suffer from lags. That’s the mild hybrid system at work. Personally, I’ve had some reservations with dual- clutch transmissions on regular cars, crossovers, or MPVs such as this after testing. However, the 7-speed on the Okavango strays away from this observation as it was smooth and didn’t suffer from jerkiness even when rolling from a full stop or while crawling in heavy traffic. Overall, the Okavango is a positive surprise when it comes to the way it drives considering the small motor. The marriage of the engine (with the mild hybrid) and the gearbox is something to look forward to.

Outside, this new Urban Plus variant flaunts slightly updated LED headlamps. The daytime running lights have been moved from the bottom to the middle of the front lamps. Looking very similar to headlamp designs of the Volvos. This new grade of the Okavango also adds new Active LED headlights wherein the front lights follow the direction of the steering wheel. Such a feature that can be seen in more premium models and definitely speak of how Geely promises a well-integrated, complete package. Aside from this, nothing has changed compared to previous variants. The exterior still has that shape that will always leave you thinking whether to classify it as an MPV or crossover. It also has an interestingly designed roof rail that is subtle and goes well with the shape of the vehicle. It did not at all hamper the aerodynamics or compromise NVH levels inside the car at higher speeds.

The most significant selling point of the Okavango is its value-for-money. A top-of-mind direct competitor for this one would be the fully-loaded Toyota Innova V. And equipment-wise on the interior, the Okavango definitely comes out on top in many aspects. It’s equipped with the 360-degree panoramic cameras that people adore about Geely Philippines’ lineup. The crisp and accurate resolution is arguably one of the best in the market to date. The tri-zone climate control system is also something worth noting here. On safety features, this new Urban Plus variant has the same number of airbags as the Urban with six throughout the cabin.

The faux leather seats, appealing construction of the dashboard with soft-touch material, silver accents, and 10.3-inch infotainment with QD Link also remain on the Urban Plus. But look up and you’d notice the addition of a moonroof for the Urban Plus. The addition of this feature after only four months since the model launch speaks of Geely Philippines’ proactive efforts in listening to what the market wants. It simply made sense to include a moonroof considering the empty and lengthy ceiling the Okavango had prior to this new variant. It’s also equipped with the 8-speaker set-up similar to what the Urban variant and Azkarra have. What’s also surprisingly new on the Urban Plus’ interior is the new layout for the fully-digital instrument cluster. In our previous drive with the Urban variant, we mentioned how the aesthetics on the speedometer could have benefited from an actual needle – even on a digital cluster. The crispness of the display is similar to what some European models offer. For those who still yearn for some analog, the Okavango’s rival in the Maxus G50 offers an opulent mix of physical details with the digital screen.

One of the more interesting things on the Okavango is on the configuration of the second-row seats. Usually, crossovers and SUVs utilize a 60:40 split on the second row. On the Okavango, however, it has adapted a “33-33-33” setting as there are three separate seats for the three occupants. This leads to wider configuration options. It’s definitely much easier to slide and fold one seat to enter the third row of the vehicle. The lever on the top of the seat allows the either side of the second-row seats to slide without folding. Each seat can be slid to allow more space for the third-row occupants. Speaking of third-row seating, the Okavango offers one of the most impressive legroom and headroom in the market. The non-sloping roof design of the vehicle definitely benefits interior space and comfort. Third row passengers can also enjoy their own air-conditioning vents, cupholders, and actual use
cubby holes for their smartphones or small objects.

At a price of PhP 1,478,000, the Geely Okavango Urban Plus is a fully-equipped, well-balanced, and strategically priced vehicle that deserves the attention of those in the market for an MPV or a crossover who value practicality but also place importance on equipment and drive. The PhP 150,000 price difference from the Urban is thinly justifiable with the addition of Active LED headlights, moonroof, and an updated instrument cluster layout. The moonroof alone may cost around PhP 50,000 in the aftermarket scene. The Geely Okavango Urban Plus indeed strives to become a new role model in a competitive and growing segment that even established rivals will have to watch out for.

Specifications

Engine

Engine Inline-3
Location Front, Transverse
Displacement 1477 cc
Cylinder Block Aluminum
Cylinder Head Aluminum, dohc 12V, 4 valves per cylinder, Atkinson-Cycle, 48-Volt Electric Motor Synergy, Dual-VVT
Fuel Injector Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 190 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 221 lb-ft @ 1500-4000 rpm
Drag Coefficient (cd) 0.32
Transmission 7-Speed Wet Dual-Clutch

Engine

Suspension System Front: Independent MacPherson Strut, Rear: Torsion Beam
Brakes Front: Ventilated Discs, Rear: Solid Discs
Wheels 18" x 7J Alloy
Tires 225/55R18 95V Continental UltraContact UC6

Weight and dimensions

Length 4,385 mm
Width 1,900 mm
Height 1,780 mm
Wheelbase (mm) 2,815 mm
Curb Weight 1,385 kg (3053 lbs.)

Performance

Top Speed 200 km/h (125 mph) Governed
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 9.4 sec

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Capacity 52 liters (13.7 gallons)
Fuel Milage (km/l) 15.9 km/L Overall

Ratings

Price as Tested (PHP) PhP 1,478,000.00
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