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New JAC T9 offers great value

by Media

June 20, 2024
Category: Reviews

REVIEW BY: Sowetan | AUTHOR: Brenwin Naidu

Original Article Link: https://bit.ly/4cHvvI1

Chinese brand on growth path since arriving in 2017

Chances are that Chinese brand JAC Motors is not at the top of your mind when it comes to commercial vehicles in Mzansi.

The Asian manufacturer set up shop here in 2017 and its handlers have described growth in the country as slow but steady.“We are not trying to sell as many cars as possible, as quickly as possible, we want to build a brand,” said CEO Karl-Heinz Göbel at a recent event commemorating the 60th birthday of the company globally.It was said that there are about 5,000 JAC Motors vehicles currently on local roads.

Aside from launching product, part of efforts crucial to establishing the operation was cultivating adequate parts supply, Göbel told media attendees. Though its South African operations centres around commercial products – with trucks ranging in payloads from three to nine tonnes as well as pick-ups – in overseas markets JAC Motors also has extensive passenger car offerings. These could be on the cards for our region in years to come.

According to Göbel, JAC Motors has a target of 3,000 total units for 2024 and is on the path to achieving this, through its dealership network spanning over 70 outlets.The 60th anniversary event also provided an opportunity for us to get behind the wheel of the newest JAC Motors offering, the T9 double-cab.But before that, we opted to glean some reference by driving the older T8 double-cab model, as Sowetan Motoring had not previously sampled any offerings from the brand.

It proved to be a nice surprise, although admittedly, our expectations were not high. It might not win prizes for design, with an inoffensive and largely generic execution, but the T8 gave the impression of a product that is screwed together well.The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged-diesel mill pulled respectably via a six-speed manual. Though the cabin looked a tad out of date, insulation was quite good and road manners seemed fair.Ranging in price from R399,900 to R514,990, the double-cab range is worth a look as a new alternative for what would usually be second-hand money for products from more established marques.The standard-issue JAC Motors warranty and service plan is of a five-year/100,000km duration.

While the T8 exudes the sense of a brand off to a fair start, the T9 signifies a company that is getting into its stride. So considerable is the leap.Based on our first taste, it would not be a stretch to say the JAC T9 feels as if it could at the very least be mentioned in the same breath as rivals with a long-standing rooting.

Of course, that exterior frontal design is what you notice first. The fearsome grille arrangement makes quite a statement. And while it might not scoop a tiara – it will get people talking. A double-cab ought to look tough and aggressive, which certainly applies to the T9. From the rear, the vehicle takes a more expected, conservative stylistic turn.Pricing kicks off at R549,900 for the 4×2 Lux while the range-topping Super Lux 4×4 goes for R659,900. All models use a 2.0-litre, turbocharged-diesel motor with four-cylinders, linked to an eight-speed automatic.At the price, the flagship Super Lux undercuts equivalent top-tier double-cabs by quite a margin. At this stage of the game JAC Motors needs to play on price in order to get customers through the door.The cabin has clearly lifted inspiration from those of other brands. But you have to hand it to them for the quality of execution: all the trappings of a leisure pick-up are very much present.From soft-touch surfaces, to chunky, metallic-trimmed switchgear, diamond-patterned leather upholstery and a slick 10.4-inch touchscreen, the interior gives off a decidedly plush vibe.

Quite a lot to get excited about from a standard kit perspective too; comprising just about everything from a sunroof to a 360-degree camera. Safety equipment includes six airbags, including a centre airbag which the brand described as “world-leading”.

Output from the motor is 125kW and 410Nm. Coupled to the smooth-shifting eight-speed, the T9 is an agreeable companion with a hushed cabin. While ride quality might not be at Ford Ranger levels of polish, the composure of the Chinese model is certainly not to be sneezed at.Overall, the T9 seems like a compelling prospect and a testament to how manufacturers from China are bridging the gap. While the new pick-up is not going to give the national best-sellers sleepless nights, it will certainly give value-minded consumers something to think about. And as we all know, in this economy, just about everyone is seeking the best bang for buck.

 

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