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Is this another Chinese SUV on route to Oz?

By Alex Rae, 21 Jun 2019 News

Is this another Chinese SUV on route to Oz?

A mystery vehicle has been spied testing in Melbourne but mums the word on what it is

This might be the newest Chinese SUV to tackle the Australian market, or is it just a major facelift to the second-generation Ssangyong Rexton?

A keen-eyed Wheels reader sent in spy shots of the SUV testing around the outer suburbs of Melbourne; not that it doesn’t stand out with huge lashing of camo cladding.

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But it’s left the Wheels office scratching its head trying to figure out what we’re looking at - the reader thought it might be a new Mazda, given the round blacked-out badge that looks a lot like a Mazda logo, but this is in no way the body language the Japanese brand uses and nothing like the CX-4 we spotted earlier this year or the upcoming CX-30.

The kink from the bonnet to the windscreen suggests it might be a Ssangyong Rexton, but if it is, it’s packing a huge facelift over the recently released second-generation model. And the badge upfront doesn’t really fit.

Wheels has reached out to the local arm of the South Korean maker but is yet to receive any comment.

The round badge, unless a decoy, also rules out MG, which did get back to us and seemed just as puzzled, though the grille and headlights do echo some of the current-gen MG design.

The big hexagonal grille had some thinking it might be a test vehicle from Hyundai’s staple, but again, the design language just doesn’t work out.

So what about that badge?

Read next: Mazda CX-4 spied testing in Australia

It appears it could be a Cowin - a brand that falls under Chinese car brand Chery. The maker, which has been dormant in Australia since it last sold the J11 SUV here in 2014, has registered the Cowin logo trademark in Australia. The left-hand drive test vehicle has a markedly similar badge upfront, too.

Chery had a rough few years when it launched here in 2011, with low ANCAP crash test scores and vehicles that didn’t have electronic stability control so they were not allowed for sale in some states. If importer Ateco, which currently brings in LDV cars from China, thinks that might have tarnished the Chery brand too much, it could be preparing to re-launch with a stronger product lineup than it previously offered and under the Cowin name.

The current Cowin lineup of SUVs - the X3, X5 and X7 - hold some of the styling substance of this new model. But there have been no reports or spy pics of this model testing anywhere - and we haven’t found anything else in the world that might match it. Can you?

We’ve reached out to Ateco but the importer is yet to confirm if it might be considering the Chinese marque.