The global economy is experiencing significant turbulence, and this is clearly mirrored in the automotive market. A decade ago, the idea of buying a Mercedes-Benz C-Class for a quarter of a million dirhams would have seemed absurd, yet here we are. This trend isn't limited to German manufacturers; even the traditionally affordable Japanese brands have pushed their prices to almost unrecognizable levels. Just when we thought potential car buyers might be overwhelmed by the inability to afford new vehicles with current salaries, the 'Chinese car' emerged as a savior, offering a range of affordable options. However, this solution comes with its own set of challenges. Chinese manufacturers have saturated the market with similar-looking compacts and mid-size crossovers and SUVs, often sharing parts. Yet, among these, there are a few models that stand out with unique visual identities. If you're considering a Chinese vehicle but desire something distinctive, take a look at these three handpicked options. While they may share some similarities with other SUVs, they each have their own unique features.

For those enamored with the Nissan Patrol's looks, capabilities, and heritage but deterred by its high price, the TANK 500 offers a viable Chinese alternative. This massive vehicle, measuring over 5 meters in length and nearly 2 meters tall, boasts a striking chrome grille and a commanding presence. With tinted windows and a white paint job, it closely mimics the Nissan Patrol. The interior is more elegant than Nissan's flagship, featuring a 14.6-inch infotainment screen, nappa leather upholstery, and massage seats. The TANK 500 is powered by a potent 3.0-litre twin-turbo engine that delivers 348 PS and 500 Nm of torque, accelerating from 0 to 100 in just 7.3 seconds. Alternatively, a hybrid version with a 2.0-litre turbo engine and a 9-speed transmission is available, producing 346 PS and 648 Nm of torque. Equipped with features like Tank Turn and electronic differential locks, it has the potential to be a decent off-roader. The starting price is surprisingly affordable at approximately Dh175,000.

If you're interested in off-roading and admire the new Land Rover Defender, the Jetour T2 is worth considering. This mid-size SUV, inspired by the Defender, is set to rival the Wrangler. Its raised ride height, elegantly sculpted boxy surfaces, and available matt grey finish make it a standout. The cabin is equally impressive, featuring a unique octagonal steering wheel and a 15.6-inch infotainment screen. The Jetour T2 is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that delivers 390 Nm of torque through a 7-speed DCT transmission and a BorgWarner 6th generation 4-wheel drive system, making it a promising off-roader. Additionally, it comes with a 10-year/1-million-kilometre warranty and a three-year service contract.

MG has successfully established itself as a prominent Chinese brand with a range of attractive vehicles targeting the economy segments. Among its offerings, the Whale stands out as particularly unique. Named after the largest living organism, the Whale features a radical Coupe SUV silhouette with a raked rear roofline and several design elements inspired by its namesake, including baleen-like slits in the front grille, 'Whale-fin' outside mirrors, and a 'Whale-tail' rear roof spoiler. Priced at around Dh90,000, the Whale is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine paired with an 8-speed transmission, delivering 231 PS of power and 370 Nm of torque. It also boasts high-end luxury features like a 9-speaker BOSE sound system, 256-colour ambient lighting, and a dual 12.3-inch curved panoramic screen. The Whale comes with a commendable six-year/200,000 km warranty.