JAECOO 7 First Drive Impressions

To launch in tandem with the OMODA brand later this year, JAECOO was excited enough to establish contact with AutoDeal and send me to China earlier this year. The trip involved the tour group going to Wuhu, in Anhui province to experience the OMODA and JAECOO brands, two of which are rather new in the world of cars. 

Of the two models that we’re getting first in the Philippines, this one happens to be our favorite for now, the JAECOO 7. It’s a compact crossover with all-wheel-drive, ample seating for five, a huge infotainment display, and looks that I honestly couldn’t get enough of. With the brief introduction out of the way, Let me tell you more about our first drive with the JAECOO 7. 

As the only person to go on the trip from the Philippines, I had the strange luxury of having the cars all to myself, along with other members of the media from the Middle-East, and other Eastern European countries. The two cars that were consistently and constantly with us during the trip were the OMODA 5 and the JAECOO 7, and it’s no secret that the JAECOO 7 got quite a lot more attention, at least compared to the OMODA 5. 

The same can be said about my personal view of the two cars. I found that the JAECOO 7 was the more visually appealing crossover of the two. That is not to say that the OMODA 5 is ugly, but the JAECOO just looked more striking with its boxy yet smooth lines all throughout the body. You could say that it looks like a Land Rover, but since JAECOO’s parent company works with the British brand, it’s not totally copied, more like a few styling techniques were borrowed and executed with a more JAECOO style. Frankly, it doesn’t strike me as a copy, nor does it strike me as a luxury vehicle. In fact, it’s a little quirky with a good amount of approachability. 

All-in-all, I like how it looks. It’s an all-LED affair up-front with a chrome grille, 19-inch wheels with road tires, and red calipers—which was a little bit too extra. We were able to see two colors of this model, one is a bluish-white colorway, and the other is a khaki green that looks really good. It’s a futuristic look in general, and it’s simple yet elegant enough to make it on the high streets. Though, I’m really not a fan of the fake exhaust finishers at the back. 

Stepping inside, we can see that JAECOO has paid attention to the details, and what makes this crossover one of the models to look out for in 2023. While the exterior is classy, the interior is more rugged. Stepping inside, you won’t fail to notice the massive infotainment screen in the middle. JAECOO says that it will come with an eight-speaker sound system from Sony, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The screen will definitely be over 10 inches in diagonal screen size and it will also come with a 540-degree camera, a rather fluid user interface, and also the standard Bluetooth, and USB connectivity features. Oh, and you also get a wireless charger plus a suede-like material under the screen that can fit plus-sized smartphones with no problem whatsoever. 

Finished in leather, the upholstery of the interior feels tough but supple at the same time. It’s a nice balance of a durable yet luxurious feel. We don’t doubt that it is a synthetic material that covers the steering wheel, seats, and parts of the interior panels, but JAECOO’s execution is quite good for a car of this class. JAECOO allowed everyone to get an up close and personal look at the interior in its monotone black form. There is, however, another option that introduces light beige and tan trimmings, which might be a dirt magnet, but it looks extremely elegant. Only time will tell whether or not people will prefer this look in the Philippines, but my money is more on the all-black theme. Things were brightened up in the cabin thanks to the panoramic sunroof which was executed well and extended well into the rear seats' headroom. 

Space at the back is also great, being a five-seat crossover, it should be more than enough for most day-to-day cargo-carrying duties, with the model only suffering a little when several large pieces of luggage are brought in plus up to five passengers. The rear seats can fold down in a 60:40 split just like most crossovers and there are also other storage spaces scattered throughout the cabin, the most cavernous of which lies directly under the center console, under the gear selector. 

Now, onto the question of whether or not it drives well, and it’s actually not that bad even with the added weight of an all-wheel drive system, a larger chassis compared to the OMODA 5, and also 21-inch wheels. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get this car out on a cross-country drive that spans incredibly long distances, instead, we were treated to a slalom course that gave us a feel for what the car would feel like in a more fast-paced city-slicking scenario. A little autocross went a long way, however, since the JAECOO 7 was surprisingly nimble while avoiding cones and doing quick U-turns. The steering felt nice and light, albeit without a ton of steering feel, and the chassis behaved well, even with copious amounts of body roll. 

2024 JAECOO 7 Front

The engine is a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with good amounts of low-end torque and response it has 197 hp and 290 Nm of torque, which is mighty impressive from a 1.6-liter in a crossover. All four wheels are driven by the motor, and it shifts with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. In the short while that I had with the car, the transmission was decent in its response in tandem with the accelerator. It wasn’t sluggish, though more testing is required in less-than-ideal conditions. 

2024 JAECOO 7 Side

Overall, the JAECOO 7 presents a very competent drive even when pushed to its limits. For its class, it's no autocross star, but it’s definitely a decent-handling model that is quite nimble for its size and weight. It would have been nice to test the JAECOO 7's other drive modes, but since I was going through a slalom, the sport mode was engaged. 

Nothing’s finalized as of now, but JAECOO promises that its pricing will be competitive with the market and representative of the quality that the brand offers. There are already a ton of competitors in the compact crossover segment, but perhaps JAECOO could do something with the ‘7’ given that it wants to be an all-wheel-drive system and great for in-city and out-of-city drives. 

We’re excited to try this model out on Philippine roads soon and we feel that it will steal a bit of the spotlight away from the OMODA 5, just like how it did in China. Whether or not it will be a star in the Philippines remains to be seen, but we reckon that it has a shot. Now, it’s all a matter of waiting and seeing whether either JAECOO or OMODA, for that matter, will make a dent in the market with their competent cars. 

JAECOO said that they will be trying their best to bring in the model at a great price for the Philippine market. For now, we're expecting the JAECOO 7 to go over the 1,500,000-million-Philippine-peso mark, but that's still not yet certain as the brand could change its plans as its launch draws near. For what its worth, however, JAECOO also has a hybrid powertrain available for the JAECOO 7. The Philippine market already has good selection of hybrid models, however, so it'll be interesting to see the final lineup for the JAECOO 7 when the time comes. 

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