Omoda & Jaecoo may have a winner with this boxy EV

Omoda & Jaecoo has yet to sell cars in the Philippines, yet the company has already sent four batches of delegates to China to experience and critique its upcoming cars. On my second trip with the company, one that left an impression was the Jaecoo J6. This boxy electric vehicle is the smallest in the Jaecoo lineup – perfect for my adoration for small cars. 

But the Jaecoo J6’s mettle goes beyond its size. Its design isn’t over-the-top; its boxy shape emanates an obvious charm. It’s like a battery-powered Jeep Renegade that’s more high-tech and isn’t apologetic for being too boxy. It’s like a mini Land Rover Defender with a touch of Suzuki Jimny 5-door flavor.

The Jaecoo J6, known as the iCar 03 in China (another Chery subsidiary), is an all-electric SUV with distinctive styling and premium features. It comes with a 501 km range on a single charge, optional solar panels on the roof for additional charging, and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) provided by DJI.

The J6 has dimensions slightly smaller than the also PH-bound J7, measuring 4,406 mm long, 1,910 mm wide, and 1,715 mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,715 mm.

Inside, the J6 offers a plush interior with a large center display and a horizontal dash layout. It has a push-button door opening like Tesla and grab handles inspired by the Defender. 

But what made the J6 a winner in our books was when we test-drove it in Wuhu, China. In an open parking lot prepped with cones like an autocross course, we were given the green light to push the J6 to its limits so it could prove its mettle.

Thanks to its electric motors, it performed quite well, starting with the instantaneous acceleration. It didn’t feel heavy at all, even when tackling corners at speeds, and the brakes, while somewhat felt mushy, had a good bite to it that inspired confidence even when coming to a wall of cones at full blast. 

Even better, despite the heft of being an EV, the J6 handled corners well. The anti-roll sway bar worked extensively to keep the SUV planted. The only limit during our short test was the tires, which struggled to employ a grip and transfer the instant torque from the electric motors.

If there’s anything that should be improved with the J6, that would be the steering feel. It felt too light – perfect for comfy in-city maneuvers but a bit numb for mountain roads. Then again, it wasn’t hard to get used to.

We talked to top Omoda & Jaecoo officials, who told us they will bring the J6 by September of this year. Pricing has yet to be revealed, but we expect a price tag below P2 million. However, with lots of Chinese EVs in the market today, we hope it will be sold at P1.5 million. That’s wishful thinking on our end, but with some Filipino car buyers opening up on EVs, an attainable price tag should help sell this charming electric SUV.

Other Omoda & Jaecoo Models

We also had a go at other Omoda and Jaecoo models in the prepared course. We went behind the wheel of the Jaecoo J7 PHEV and the Omoda E5 – both upcoming cars in the Philippines, with the latter previewed at the 2024 Manila International Auto Show. We also rode shotgun in the Jaecoo J8 PHEV while doing off-road stints. I won’t go through the specs of each car in detail, but I will share my impressions and what can be improved on each.

The Jaecoo J7 PHEV was spritely from a standstill, thanks to the electric motors. Despite being close to the dimensions of a Honda CR-V, it didn’t feel like a big vehicle and was a cinch to maneuver in tight spaces. The steering feel was too light, though, and could use a little tightening for added feedback.

The Omoda E5 was a joy to drive on straights, with its tires struggling to find grip. But once it hooked, it was quick to centenary. Its downfall, however, was its instability at full throttle, which can be attributed to its light steering feel. Its driving aids need to be calibrated to prevent high-speed instability. Cabin controls are cumbersome, too, with mundane functions like adjusting the side mirrors buried deep into the menus of the massive touchscreen infotainment system.

Lastly, the Jaecoo J8 PHEV was a capable off-roader despite looking like a competitor to the Mazda CX series. The driver assigned to us during the muddy off-road stint was probably a rally driver, and the J8 PHEV complied with flying colors. The SUV felt luxurious inside, too, primarily because of the premium materials used and the captain seats on the second row.

Most Popular


More Articles Like This