Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Jaecoo J7 – is this the coolest hunter?

In November 2023 we heard the news that Jaecoo was to be introduced as part of Omoda and that this new brand was on its way to South Africa. Yes, it’s a weird name but it’s a combination of the German word for hunter, Jäger (Jae), and Cool (Coo) – hence Jaecoo.

The Jaecoo J7 has just been unveiled at St Johns College in Johannesburg and after a short product introduction we headed of in this new model from China. The vehicle is fitted with a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine pushing out 147kW and 290Nm and mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, it’s pretty nippy on the roads.

Styled as a so-called urban off-road SUV marque, Jaecoo is – like Omoda – an upmarket brand with a striking design language and a high level of technology. In fact, Jaecoo is for Chery, what Haval and Tank are for GWM.

Measuring 4 500mm in length, 1 865mm in width and 1 680mm in height (with a 2 650-mm wheelbase) and 200mm of ground clearance, the Jaecoo J7 is boldly styled, to put it mildly.

The model’s exterior design blends blocky old-school off-roader with smooth finishes and rounded edges, along with slick, modern finishes and is said to embody the brand’s slogan of From Classic, Beyond Classic.

The classic aesthetic continues in the cabin with (ahem) battleship-style door handles and straight lines perpendicular to one another, and a gigantic 14.8 inch a portrait-oriented infotainment screen on the fascia – O&J claims it measures 24.6 inches (diagonally). Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is supported and it worked perfectly. The cabin is surprisingly quiet thanks to double layered mute glass for the front windshield and front side windows. Ventilated leather seat will keep you cool in the summer and warm and cosy in the winter. A8 Speaker Sony sound system will ensure you will keep you entertained. The global5 star security standard and the 21 function Intelligent Driver Assistance System (IDAS) will keep you safe and sometimes a bit annoyed if you don’t know how to switch the warning beeps off.

How does it drive?

The engine is nice and responsive the seats are comfy. On-road ride quality is decent and on the coarser roads it faired fairly well, don’t expect to take it 4x4ing, but as a gravel road vehicle or hitting a beach in Mozambique this vehicle will do just fine. We did experience the All-Wheel Drive variant in an off-road game drive setting, and the J7 surprised us with how competent it is in such conditions with its 200mm ground clearance. Off-road comfort is good, but keep in mind it’s not a 4×4.

The J7 is filled with standard features and the full-size spare wheel is a great option for the guys that will be doing loads of gravel driving with it. Standard items include:

  • Wireless 50W charging
  • 10.25-inch LCD driver cluster
  • Front radar
  • Voice Command
  • 360-degree HD camera
  • Power adjustable front seats
  • Driver knee airbag
  • IDAS
  • Child detection
  • Offline navigation
  • Power tailgate

The J7 will be available in three models: the Vortex, the Glacier and the Inferno. It is offered in both front- and all-wheel drive, depending on the model. The all-wheel drive Inferno is endowed with Jaecoo’s proprietary All Road Driving Intelligent System (ARDIS) intelligent off-roading system, with as many as seven drive modes that allow it to adapt to a wide variety of terrains.

The verdict

I don’t know where the Jaecoo J7 fits into the market. It looks like a luxury vehicle, yet it is priced as a mid-range vehicle. For a buyer out there to get the same specs in a similar vehicle, he would need to spend almost R200 000 more. For a vehicle of the same size but with less standard spec, you could probably pay about R150 000 less. The closets rival is perhaps Chery’s Tiggo 7. And then there is the price for what you get, it almost feels as if you are getting more than what you paid for. This is actually a lot of car for not that much money. We will definitely keep an eye on the brand and look forward to the launch of its next model later this year.

Model line-up and pricing

  • Jaecoo J7 Vortex: R549 999
  • Jaecoo J7 Glacier: R599 999
  • Jaecoo J7 Inferno AWD: R679 999

All models come with a 10-year/one-million kilometre engine warranty for the first owner, a standard 5-year/150 000km warranty and a 4-year/ 70 000km service plan.

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