|Geely EC8. Remind you of anyything?|
OK, the headline works best if you pronounce this automaker's name with the intended soft "g." But yes, this is a Geely, of Chinese manufacture, meaning that any resemblance to a Cadillac – especially in the shape of the grille and design of the multi-coloured shield badge – is you betcha intentional.
Cadillac, of course, is General Motors' top brand. Correspondingly, this EC8 midsize sedan is from Geely's luxury line, Emgrand. (Its other brands are the mainstream Englon and Geely and my favourite, at least in name, the Gleagle domestic budget line. Oh yes, Geely owns Volvo, too.)
The EC8 debuted in late 2010 as a big sister to the EC7 sedan. Its target, rather than any specific Cadillac, was Toyota's famous Camry. Either way, Geely was aiming high.
It's a good-looking car, with funky "batwing" headlamps to give it some distinction beyond the Cadillac cues. With just a pair of four-cylinder engine options – a 2.0-litre and a 2.4-litre, both from Mitsubishi – it won't be called overpowered, but it does offer a reasonable load of luxury features (even xenon headlamps on the 2.4 Executive model).
The EC8's most notable attribute, however, could be its performance in crash-testing, scoring a five-star rating in China's assessment program and four stars in Europe's more stringent NCAP tests. Geely's CK compact car, in comparison, is infamous for crumpling like aluminum foil in crash tests.
You'll find both the Emgrand EC8 and the Geely CK in Cuban rental fleets. The EC8 will cost a lot more than the CK, and as we know, Cuban rental rates aren't cheap to begin with. But given the crash-test results, the EC8 is by far the safer choice.
Geely. Prounced Jee-lee. Or in Cuba, Heely