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FAMILY TIES: Elegant OMODA C5 takes me back to Ruby’s delight! Chinese brands making their mark in SA

Premium OMODA C5 from stylish CHERY label is full of surprises and brings back fond memories for Edwin Naidu, who revisits the past while driving with a snake-catching transporter from Phoenix.

The Chinese motor manufacturers are bucking the trend and making their mark in South Africa. Currently, five Chinese car firms are operating in the country. They are GWM, Geely. Haval, BAIC and Chery.

The elegant OMODA C5 was our small SUV when Uncle Brian and Auntie Vijay visited recently to coincide with a working visit by Sershen, my little brother from another awesome mom.

The eldest son of Brian and Vijay, he also grew up in front of the Naidu, making Grove-End Drive, Phoenix, his second home, annexing the Naidu siblings for better or worse. His recent visit was different. The beautiful folks were around to spend precious time with Sershen before he returned to the dumpsters of Trumpland.

The wonderful Naidoo was fetched in style in a fancy BMW few can afford, so it’s best not to mention it or the adorable driver. But the Naidoo remained in dreamland in the OMODA C5, the elegant car from the CHERY stable, with plenty to rave about. It has a futuristic look, almost like a spaceship. The OMOADA C5 does not look like anything in the CHERY stable, which returned to South Africa in 2021.

Classy & elegant: Uncle Brian Naidoo is getting the smell and feel of the OMODA C5 in Buccleuch.

Typically, one associates premium with the Germans, but they’ve fallen off their perch a bit. Mercedes Benz and Audi seem dated as their PR recruits. It is COP28, so let’s park the hot air. But it’s just a pity that some brands are stuck in the old South Africa where white is right. “If you’re brown, hmm, stick around. If you’re black, get back, get back.” At a high level, Merc and Audi epitomise the racism endemic to South Africa for the past three decades. Pity. Racism is a story that will fly on another day with obvious analysis to support it.

The point is premium cars are not the monopoly of the pithy Germans. Yes, BMW never lost when it comes to premiums. Class is permanent, as they always show. The OMODA C5 oozes premium. It’s the spacious, well-decorated interior; the car has a 1.5-litre engine, kicking out 115 kilowatts of power, with fuel consumption at 6.9 litres per 100, though we averaged 10 litres per 100km. In terms of safety, it has all one needs to keep one safely cocooned from harm should anything go awry.

The OMODA C5 looks stylish. Uncle Brian was impressed. He visualised how he would redesign the car to fit his purpose, saying this OMODA C5 would be transformed into an excellent people mover. Uncle Brian is not a feisty one like Jason Statham. But he, too, is the transporter. Uncle Brian takes one to one’s final resting place. The head of North Coast Funeral Services is an undertaker with a smile.

OMODA C5 oozes premium. It’s the spacious, with well-decorated interior!

 Auntie Vijay will tell you he is a charming man. Sometimes, he charms snakes. Uncle Brian was once featured globally on National Geographic after a snake was dying to keep warm in one of the hearses parked in the garage in Woodview, Phoenix.

Uncle Brian is often the last man standing, the final human face presiding over the farewell to many a loved one. He has a few modest black vehicles, but accesses stretch limousines on demand. The bigger, the better the request from those saying goodbye to the departed. Do people really want to go out in style on the last ride? And we’re not even talking about the cost of the coffin. Should families choose to soothe their conscience because they did nothing when the person was on the planet? Just asking for a friend. Give me an unmarked car without any razzmatazz. That also means don’t invite Fikile Mbalula draped in his horrendous bumblebee outfit. Sorry honey!

Uncle Brian should revamp the OMODA C5 in his grand vision. It should be my final choice of transport even if people snigger; a lukker CHERY took him to his grave. Uncle Brian oversaw the goodbye to the remains of both my parents. I call dibs on him.  

In the OMODA C5, we talked a lot about my mom, Ruby. She used to say give her flowers when she was alive – not dead. I don’t remember buying her any. I didn’t eat the almonds Ruby gave us as brain food. She must have got flowers from my dad or siblings occasionally. My mom appreciated the things I did, that much she told me. As the acting eldest, we shared much and had a deep bond. The beauty is that all siblings would probably say the same. And that’s the mark of a good mom. Thankfully, I had the same with my dad. Yes, I was special, or so I think. Amada! Auntie Vijay reminded me while riding in the OMODA C5 that Amada was a term of endearment.

Family ties…Naidu and Naidoos are sharing a good time over a meal with Sershen Naidoo in front with beaming smile.

The bond with my endearing mom is something one cannot describe. But I never bought her flowers. When she passed on 8 June 2008, her funeral was a flowery cry, with mutton biryani and beautiful speeches. She asked for a sealed coffin. See her when she was alive: you know where she stayed was her mantra. You know where I stay? Have you heard that line before?

It seemed like a cold yesterday when Aldrin and I returned shell-shocked from Denmark along with the fondly missed Simphiwe Piliso to see Ruby Naidu sleeping peacefully in the morgue in Verulam. Uncle Brian and Auntie Vijay were close to my mom and still talk about her all the time. So does Sershen. Children may take their parents for granted until it is too late. Then, we spend the rest of our lives mourning. And celebrating birthdays. It is only when they’re gone that you realise the groovy couple that gave birth to you is no more.

Ruby’s lectures were classic. When I drove the VW Beetle or the Hyundai seemingly fast, my backseat mom would shout “60-80” to adhere to the speed limit. When I sometimes earned money from a freelance gig or received a rare blessing from the tax person, she would say, “Put for God and don’t make dham dhoom”. It simply meant don’t blow it all in one go. Ruby’s Delight, her savoury mince dish, was among the yummiest. I tried cooking it once or twice. The reviews were less memorable than the memory of that fabulous day at Ruby’s. To use another cliché, I saw stars. I would love those days again. If only she knew. She knows. 

My dad left us on 14 January 2010 – in the year of the World Cup, he scored his way to Heaven. In dealing with grief, I didn’t even get to the dearly departed siblings, Morgan and Aldrin. I was blessed that my connection to both amazing parents remained with the now late Auntie Mullie and jovial Uncle Michael on my mom’s side and the last two men standing on my dad’s side Vicky and Vis (Whitey as we called him growing up). Memories of Auntie Mullie on my phone are overwhelming. We had a blast, laughed, talked about my parents or siblings, ate and had a lesson or three. She lived like a rockstar.

One New Year’s Eve, she spent with us in Buccleuch. We had an excellent 10-year KWV brandy, sat outside by the fire, listened to music, and talked. The time flew. At about 4am, she came with two glasses of red wine, saying: “This brandy is not making us drunk; shoot the wine and go to sleep.”

Uncle Brian with Sershen and Auntie Vijay as they say farewell until we meet him (Sersh) again in Florida, USA.

If you were blessed to hear the colourful lingo of Juicy Lucy Auntie Mullie, you would know that the expletives are missing. She took the classic to another level. With all the wonderful people gone, I wonder who will be there when our time’s up.

My uncles Vicky (he used to give us German knocks as children) and Vis are the last two uncles standing. Vicky has the spirit of Mullie inspired by the Holy Spirit. I cannot gaslight my dear Uncle Vis. He is a beautiful blessing, too. Auntie Vijay, with her funky hair, reminds me a lot of my mom. She talks passionately. Always makes sense. Wisdom comes from a lady with funky hair. Just ask Leo, their parrot. Or Uncle Brian, who, having laid both parents to rest, remains my choice of transporter to the end. But only if he kits out the OMODA C5 in the funky manner he dreams, which contains loads of features at a fraction of the price that one would usually pay for those German counterparts.

But don’t wait for Uncle Brian. The tech model OMODA C5 starts at R457,900, topping off at R509,900 for the full-cream Elegance S. For the style-focused buyers looking to make a statement, this might be it.

In a world where anything is up for disruption, provided the styling, safety, ride, and price combine to offer a premium package, one does not have to look beyond the most intelligent vehicle in the CHERY stable. The OMODA C5 will become an elegantly wasted transporter if you pass on its charms. In the words of Dennis Edwards: “Don’t Look Any Further.” Arouse your inner temptation. And keep the transporter in mind, cos OMODA C5 is a beautiful disruptor. Oh Chery Amoire., you have done well, Uncle Brian has never looked happier, China.

*This article forms part of the ‘Family Ties’ series related to veteran journalist Edwin Naidu as he transports readers into the ever vibrant and groovy Naidu’s family and their love for all things motoring.

Edwin Naidu
Edwin Naidu
Jack-of-all-trades journalist Edwin Naidu talks about cars on Capricorn FM during the urban lunch adventure with King Bash on Friday.
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