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Yes, you read that right. Malaysia is set to be the first country in the world to get this new Chery MPV, which has been spotted in the past on the road and at JPJ, and here we bring you an exclusive inside-and-out gallery of the vehicle ahead of its launch, as well as preliminary specs!

Although the vehicle has been sighted in China as early as end-2013 (most recently revealing a Fulwin 8 nameplate), it is not on sale in the People’s Republic yet. So why Malaysia first?

According to sources within Chery Malaysia, the decision was made to complete right-hand drive development first, as MPVs are more popular in our region than in China. The same sources have hinted to us that for our market, the vehicle will be called the Chery Maxime. Very dainty, although we certainly don’t get the French connection.

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We’re also told that, like the Eastar, the vehicle is locally-assembled (CKD) at Oriental Assemblers in Johor, and that there’ll initially be two variants priced around the RM90k mark. The vehicle you see here is a pre-production lower-spec car, but we’re told it shouldn’t differ much from the full-production model. Suffice to say, the higher-spec car should have whatever you see here, and more.

Looking at it, you’d be quick to deem it a heavily-facelifted Eastar – and you wouldn’t be wrong. The 2,800 mm wheelbase is retained, but the new MPV is 68 mm longer at 4,730 mm, while being 1,823 mm wide. Swept-back projector headlamps join an unassuming front grille, while vertical LED DRLs adorn the front bumper.

Penned by Sergio Loureiro (ex-BMW and Mercedes-Benz), James Brian Hope (ex-Daimler-Chrysler) and Hakan Saracoglu (ex-Porsche), the vehicle also features prominent side chrome strips and a wide horizontal LED light cluster reminiscent of the Honda Civic Tourer and Toyota Previa/Estima.

The tailgate spoiler features an integrated third brake lamp, and this lower-spec car rides on 16-inch alloys wrapped in 205/55 Goodyear Eagle NCT 5 tyres (the spied vehicle wore Eastar XT wheels). You can also see three-cell reverse sensors between dual rear fog lamp/reverse lamp clusters.

The eagle-eyed will have noticed the ‘DVVT’ and ‘2.0 CVT’ badges – that’s right, the 2.0 litre ACTECO four-cylinder engine now features intake and exhaust variable valve timing, and is mated to a Chery-developed CVT with seven virtual ratios (Eastar had a four-speed auto).

Output figures are 136 hp at 5,750 rpm and 182 Nm of torque between 4,300 and 4,500 rpm – a negligible 2 hp/2 Nm more than what the Eastar had. Fuel consumption at a constant 90 km/h is a quoted 7.7 litres per 100 km, while tank capacity is 62 litres.

Enter the vehicle to a pretty plush-looking black-beige cabin, the colours of which are echoed by the cloth seats with individual fold-down armrests. The Eastar’s centrally-mounted instrument layout remains, but otherwise, the dash is a drastic departure from before.

Kit on this unit includes single-zone air-con (with classy-looking controls, no less), cruise control, a basic radio with USB, one-touch lane change indicators, eight-way manually-adjustable driver seat and follow-me-home lamps.

This unit features adjustable headrests for all seven seats. The second row seats three, with a lap belt and cupholder armrest in the middle. This row is 60:40-split and can be slid fore and aft, reclined or even folded flat by swinging the seat bases forward.

The third row is 50:50-split and seats two, with three-point seat belts. We couldn’t find a single rear air vent, which is strange – perhaps a pre-production omission. Load capacity is 588 litres with all seats up, 1,342 litres with third row folded and 2,240 litres with second and third rows folded.

Steering is hydraulic power-assisted while suspension is a MacPherson-front, rear torsion beam affair. The safety arsenal comprises four disc brakes, ABS, EBD, dual airbags and a collapsible steering column. The spare tyre sits in a tray underneath the boot.

Bear in mind that these are all preliminary specs – all should be made official very soon, but for now, you like what you see?