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Review: JAC T9 4X4 Super Lux

by Media

June 20, 2024
Category: Reviews

REVIEW BY: Carmag.co.za | AUTHOR: Alex Shahini

Original Article Link: https://bit.ly/4aE6s7m

The bakkie segment which was once dominated by two to three marques has seen an influx of unfamiliar offerings from China burst onto the scene. The JAC T9 is one of the latest arrivals that aims to shift the goalposts with an impressive value-for-money proposition – Alex Shahini finds out if it is too good as its pricing and spec suggests.

There seems to be no shortage of Chinese-built models that are finding success in the local market but the Far East nation has now found favour in the bakkie segment by offering impressively competitive products that are brimmed with technology at impressively low prices. Thinking there has to be a catch, a glance at the warranty and service plan document further rebuffs the fact that Chinese reliability isn’t on par with the mainstream competitors which is critical in the segment with durability-conscious buyers.

JAC T9 4X4 Super Lux Fast Facts

  • Price: R659 900
  • Engine: 2.0-litre, turbodiesel, four-cylinder
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Power: 125 kW
  • Torque: 410 N.m
  • Fuel consumption: 7.8 L/100 km
  • Emissions: n/a

What are we driving and why is it significant?

Flying under the radar for some time, JAC has been on offer in South Africa since 2017 with the launch of the X200 single cab commercial bakkie through a 10-dealer-strong network. The Hyundai H-100 and Kia K2700 rival served as the sole offering for little less than a year before the Chinese automaker ushered in the T6 4X2 bakkie and a 3-tonne truck after the dealer network had this point grown by 35 dealerships. The following year saw the arrival of a 6-tonner and a T6 bakkie with a Volkswagen-derived 1.9-litre diesel motor. The German powerhouse had owned a quarter chunk of JAC up until 2020 but then decided to purchase a majority stake tallying to 50% which reportedly cost $245 million. The same year, the JAC T9 was unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show and the local marketing team remains keen on ensuring the link between the familiar German automaker is made unofficially claiming that there is Amarok DNA in their product.

Related: JAC T9 Debuts to Rival Mainstream Bakkies

Thus, the T9 promises to be a masterclass in the segment, perched atop the light-commercial vehicle offerings of the more affordable but less outfitted T6 and T8 bakkies from the firm. Trickling into the country since February, courtesy of a port backlog from 2023, the bakkie aims squarely at the lifestyle bakkie segment where motivators are size, looks, performance, and versatility but at this price point, value too.

What does the JAC T9 4X4 Super Lux cost?

Speaking of value, the Chinese bakkie has arrived with a competitively low price of R659 900 as a flagship model outfitted with pleasantries and niceties expected in rivals that have asking prices north of the 700k mark. This is likely a penetration pricing approach that will increase once the model has achieved some market acceptance into the premium bakkie segment.

  • T9 2.0L CTi 4X2 Lux – R549 900
  • T9 2.0L CTi 4X4 Lux – R609 900
  • T9 2.0L CTi 4X2 Super Lux – R599 900
  • T9 2.0L CTi 4X4 Super Lux – R659 900

What is new on the JAC T9 4X4 Super Lux?

Being a fairly new product introduction to the global market that has only been around for 4 years, the T9 comes with a plethora of modern tech and features. Under the bodywork is a ZF transmission that channels the diesel motor’s torque and power to all four corners via a BorgWarner ESOF electronically-controlled part-time 4WD system, also equipped with low range and a rear diff-lock. Inside the top-tier model are plush finishings and a central display that features phone replication and a high-resolution 360-degree camera. The spec list is brimmed for the Super Lux with all of the niceties and tech expected of Chinese vehicles arriving on our shores – JAC claims that this is the most advanced bakkie they have ever built after all.

What are the JAC T9 4X4 Super Lux’s rivals?

Serving as the benchmark for the segment and the unequivocal market leader, any new bakkie arriving in South Africa will have the intention of dethroning the illustrious Toyota Hilux but Karl-Heinz Göbel, CEO of JAC Motors SA further mentions that the likes of the the established nameplates locally, namely; the Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max, Volkswagen Amarok and Mitsubishi Triton in mid-spec guise are also where the T9 will play. More realistically, Göbel mentioned that the T9 was intended to be the primary choice for buyers shopping in the Chinese bakkie segment which means it hopes to steal prospective P-Series customers, as well as other Chinese entrants set to arrive in the next several months.

Related: JAC Motors T8 2.0L Debuts as Sub R400k Double Cab

In terms of pricing, the 4×4 Super Lux undercuts its rivals by a significant margin however its smaller displaced powertrain, on paper at least, is left wanting.

What is the JAC T9 4X4 Super Lux like to drive?

Despite the fact that it has 125 kW and 410 N.m, the T9 feels composed and capable on the road. Response is almost immediate but the calibration of the throttle and transmission is yet to be optimised, an issue plaguing almost all new Chinese offerings in South Africa. Rivals like the 2.8-litre Hilux would expectedly feel more competent with 150 kW and 500 N.m courtesy of the added displacement but the T9 actually fares impressively, with little to no turbo lag which is prominent on smaller displacement bakkies. Despite a short half-hour stint in the 4×4 and a 15-minute dirt road drive in the 4×2, nothing seemed out of place and fuel consumption on the country roads hovered around 8.0 L/100 km.

Verdict

Killing two birds with one stone by introducing this model to the media on the same day that the Chinese firm celebrated its 60th anniversary, JAC hopes to increase its market share of 5 000 vehicles sold over the past 7 years with the arrival of this more mainstream bakkie offering. Like the highly acclaimed P-Series that has come before it, it has been unable to unsettle the status quo in the segment, despite achieving considerable success however this is arguably the best bakkie to come out of China right now.

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