Sneak preview of Jaecoo’s boxy new J6 SUV, which is coming to South Africa

Published May 11, 2024


“You weren’t supposed to see that yet!” said the South African Jaecoo and Omoda media and PR official when we arrived at our hotel in Wuhu, China.

Too late, she cried, with a handful of glistening new Jaecoo and Omoda products neatly lined up, including the J8 and one that particularly attracted our attention, the boxy looking all-electric J6.

With no flowing lines or enormous grills think Suzuki Jimny, Ford Bronco and even a hint of the old-school Defender.

Jaecoo and Omoda are Chery’s luxury brands, akin to what Lexus is to Toyota and Infiniti to Nissan. Having recently opened an assembly plant in Spain they are for export only and are not available to local Chinese consumers.

They’ve also split them into two very different markets with Omoda aimed more at city slickers and Jaecoo for those that prefer to spend their weekends off the beaten track doing lifestyle things.

And South Africans delight in spending time outdoors which means that the J6 is destined to arrive here. There’s no definite timeline yet but rumour has it possibly some time next year and there’s no word on which derivatives are likely to land.

For now the Jaecoo J6 is sold exclusively with an electric motor.

Currently it’s configured only as an EV with a single motor rear-wheel drive with 135kW and 184Nm and a front and rear motor set-up producing 205kW and 279Nm.

Range is said to be between 400km and 500km, depending on the battery set-up, But realistically, for it to gain significant traction in our local market, Jaecoo would have to look at some kind of ICE alternative which, given their PHEV technology, would seem to make sense.

It’s a proper four seater, standing 1,715mm high, 1,910mm wide and 4,406mm long with a wheelbase of 2,715mm.

We had a brief stint in it and a number of other Jaecoo / Omoda products and initial impressions were favourable given that Chery is trying to get a toe-hold into more European and US markets.

As you would expect from an electric car, the J6 feels brisk on take off in the 100 metres we played around on. Stomping on the brake at 80km/h the pedal felt slightly spongy which is more likely as a result of the car having just come off the production line than something inherently faulty.

A look and feel around the cabin showed decent materials and quality fittings with precise stitching and finishings.

No buttons or dials, just screen, screen and more screen. Picture: Willem van de Putte.

The cabin is dominated by an enormous touch screen which shows crisp graphics. There’s a very clinical look about it with hardly a button in sight and I suspect that everything is managed via the screen.

We didn’t get to play around with it, but I’m hoping that when it arrives here, there are at least temperature controls and audio volume buttons which seem to be finding favour again with some manufacturers.

There’s no door handle on the inside but rather a button that opens it, the gear lever is a stalk on the steering column (think Mercedes-Benz) and the outside door handles are flush, which is no surprise considering their joint venture with Jaguar Land Rover.

It will be interesting to see at what price-point the J6 will land at given that the government adds an additional tax on all NEVs but as we’ve seen with the group’s recent pricing it’s likely to be competitive.

Still, with South Africa’s lacklustre appetite for EVs, here’s hoping that Chery management seriously consider a hybrid version.

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