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Geely introduced itself to the Philippines in style, with a modern-looking compact SUV, the Coolray. The little SUV enticed with its sleek styling and modern, well-appointed interior, and Geely is set to continue the approach with the all-new Okavango SUV.

Sojitz G Auto Philippines (SGAP) introduced the Geely Okavango 7-seat SUV via an online launch event last Thursday. The Okavango follows the Coolray and the Azkarra sedan in the lineup. Its 4835mm x 1900mm width, on a 2815mm wheelbase, allows for more space for people and cargo. It carries a full set of creature comforts that are usually seen in the premium category, and something unique: a hybrid drivetrain.

Okavango is powered by a 1.5 liter 3-cylinder gasoline engine. Equipped with a turbo and augmented by a 48-volt electric motor, the hybrid system outputs a decent 190hp and 300Nm of torque. It feeds power through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The powertrain was co-developed with Geely subsidiary Volvo. 

The new SUV follows a “Expansive Aesthetic” concept, meaning a broad body accentuated with styling cues to make it look even wider. European-type styling cues include matrix-LED headlamps, and simple LED taillights connected by a chrome strip across the hatch. 

Geely claims a class-leading 69% space utilization for the Okavango, meaning more of its interior volume is available for passengers and cargo rather than for mechanical parts. The versatile interior can be configured in 19 ways, including the conventional seven-seat front-facing layout, with the third row folded, and second row also giving way to long and tall cargo. You can also fold flat the second row to form a 2.2-meter bed, or fold down the second row seatbacks for a conference-style layout. Maximum trunk volume is 2360 liters. 

The instrument panel features a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, with a 10.25-inch touchscreen panel mounted in the center. There’s a double-layer center console, and an additional 42 storage nooks. Triple-zone airconditioning with built in CN95 air filter allows individual temperature settings for the three rows. 

The Okavango rides on 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels as standard, with available 18-inch on the higher-grade Urban variant. The platform uses McPherson struts up front and a torsion beam at the rear, and Geely promises ride comfort similar to that of a passenger car. Brakes are discs at all four corners. 

Active safety features include electronic stability control,  a 360-degree monitor view, hill descent control, hill start assist, and tire pressure monitor. There are six airbags including curtain airbags.

You might mistake “Okavango” for an obscure ’80s band or a brand of perfume, but the name actually comes from a region in Botswana. Called the Okavango Delta, it’s reportedly one of the 7 natural wonders of Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “The Okavango is aptly named after the Okavango River Delta in Africa, a vast and pulsating wetland which converges and diverges with a unique ecosystem and a myriad of species. Our Okavango embodies this energetic spirit with technology, to bring you a cross-over with extended space”, Geely’s Shanghai Design Center General Manager Guy Burgoyne said.  In China, the model is known as the Hao Yue, or “Heroic.”

SGAP President & CEO Mikihisa Takayama said, “Coming from the successful launch of the Coolray and Azkarra, we are confident that the new Geely Okavango will be a game changer in the industry as it combines the best qualities of a multi-purpose vehicle and an SUV, into one exciting 7-seater mid-size crossover. This crossover promises to give you a luxurious, uncompromising, and ‘Wonderfully Distinct’ ride.”

All of the space, design, and hybrid tech comes at a surprising price: P1,208,000 for the Comfort variant and P1,328,000 for the Urban variant. 

“It has been a challenging year for all of us particularly in the automotive businesses. However, I believe that the introduction of our affordable 7-seater crossover just came in the right time, as we expect new vehicle demand to recover in the coming months, particularly on core segments such as sub-compact cars, MPVs, and SUVs.”, Takayama said.

“Geely believes that Filipino car buyers are very conscientious and deserve more than what they are paying for. Our buyers’ needs and expectations are our basis on what vehicles to sell in the market, as we continue to level up our brand on a global scale and to eventually become a significant player in the Philippine automotive industry.”, Takayama added.

The hybrid-drive, affordably-priced Okavango is an interesting new entry in the very popular three-row SUV playing field. 

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