Beijing Automobile Industry Corporation (BAIC) has made progress ranging from almost non-existent to steady since arriving in South Africa four years ago, and unveiled its second SUV at the Kyalami Auto Festival in the form of the B80.

Offered in China since 2016, the B80, like the B40 Plus below, is the result of a joint venture between BAIC and, in this case, Mercedes-Benz, which explains the newcomer’s resemblance to the G-Class.

As with the B40 Plus, a model that aesthetically mirrors the Jeep Wrangler, the B80 had to be renamed for South Africa from its Chinese designation of BJ80, the letters that stand for Beijing Jeep, to avoid possible lewd connotations or smirks.

The current vehicle used by the Chinese Armed Forces, the B80 has an overall length of 4,765 mm, a wheelbase of 2,800 mm and a width of 1,890 mm.

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Standing 2,005mm tall, the B80 has a claimed ground clearance of 215mm and a low-range gearbox, but unlike the G-Class it doesn’t have three locking differentials.

Only one derivative will be available for South Africa, with one turbocharged petrol engine, while diesel is not yet under consideration.

Mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, the 2.3-litre unit in question and, like the smaller 2.0-litre mill used in the B40 Plus, comes from Saab’s H family following BAIC’s acquisition of some of the Swedish brand’s technology following the announcement about bankruptcy. and final death in 2016.

Producing 184kW/350Nm, the unit is said to consume 11.2L/100km on unleaded gas and will propel the B80 from 0-100km/h in 10.8 seconds, according to reports from China.

The rear fascia, lights and BAIC branding are almost identical to the G-Class.

By the way, other powertrain options include a 120kW/340Nm 2.8-litre Cummins turbodiesel mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, and from 2020 a 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 delivering 206kW/ 420 Nm to all four corners through a new eight-speed automatic.

Despite the monodrive, the B80 isn’t short on specification, with the only options available being 18- or 20-inch alloy wheels instead of the standard 17-inch five-spoke wheels.

A sporty interior, similar in places to that of the G-Class, the following are standard in the B80 specification;

BAIC BJ80/B80 launched at the Kyalam Auto Festival
The interior has only subtle carryovers from the G-Class.
  • folding and heated mirrors with electric drive;
  • hatch;
  • one press of the up/down button;
  • leather seats with power, heating and ventilation;
  • sound system with six speakers;
  • eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system;
  • 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster;
  • automatic on/off headlights;
  • ambient lighting;
  • LED fog lights;
  • automatic air conditioning with rear windows;
  • push button start

Safety features include six airbags, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, ABS with EDB, reversing camera, automatic door lock/unlock and tire pressure monitor.

Expected to go on sale later this year, pricing for the B80 should start “around 1 million rand,” according to BAIC.

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