free hit counter code Intriguing Jaecoo J7 justifies Chery’s decision to divide and rule –

Intriguing Jaecoo J7 justifies Chery’s decision to divide and rule

The rapid rate at which car brands emerge from China these days makes it hard to keep up with the who’s who in the automotive zoo. So before we tell you more about the Jaecoo J7, let’s first take a step back.

After an ill-fated local stint over a decade ago, Chery returned to South Africa in 2021, this time with its full force as the second biggest car exporter in China.

The manufacturer started off building its portfolio with three models under the core Chery brand, the Tiggo 4 Pro, Tiggo 7 Pro and Tiggo 8 Pro.

Last year the C5 became the first local model under the Omoda sub-brand. Where the Tiggo family consists of traditionally-styled SUV products varying in size, the Omoda C5 crossover/SUV is more expressive, sporting futuristic styling and a more luxurious look and feel.

Jaecoo J7 enters fray

The Jaecoo J7 introduces Chery’s second local sub-brand. It differentiates itself by virtue of boxy styling which fits its billing as a more rugged off-roader.

Jaecoo and Omoda will operate under the O&J division as an independent dealership network to Chery. O&J aims to have at least 40 dealerships by year-end.

While the three brands share plenty of hardware, Chery has done a good job of creating an identity for each. There are plenty of new models set to still be introduced under the three monikers, but it seems Chery has decided not to introduce more sub-brands to South Africa.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Chery hits the sweet spot with the Jaecoo J7 (VIDEO)

Jaecoo J7 wheels
The J7 rides on 19-inch alloy wheels. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

After sampling the Jaecoo J7 in numerous conditions, from the Chery headquarters in Wuhu last year to an outing in the Lion and Safari Park and a brief launch drive, a test unit finally arrived for a week-long stay at The Citizen Motoring.

Front-wheel drive Glacier

Our Glacier trim tester was front-wheel drive, the most significant difference between it and the top-spec all-wheel-drive Inferno.

All derivatives are powered by Chery’s familiar four-cylinder 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine which produces 145kW of power and 290Nm of torque and is mated to seven speed dual-clutch transmission.

ALSO READ: PODCAST: Jaecoo J7 has potential to take SA by storm (video)

What we liked about the Jaecoo J7’s exterior styling is the combination of retro and modern touches. The boxy design and prominent upright front grille is flanked by full LED headlights. The latter features a unique block design, which continues inside the taillight cluster.

Puddle lamps under the side mirrors give a fancy display next to the car when unlocked via the keyless remote.

Jaecoo J7 Glacier cabin
The Jaecoo J7’s cabin features a great selection of materials. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

Rugged yet plush

The external rugged theme continues inside with big bolts on the outside of the brushed chrome door handles. But the ruggedness is absorbed in plushness with a good selection of high-quality materials.

A minimalistic layout features a ginormous 14.8-inch portrait-style infotainment screen, probably the biggest we’ve experienced.

In addition to a comprehensive spec list standard on the entry-level Jaecoo J7 Vortex – a fully digital instrument cluster, 50-watt wireless smartphone charger, 360-degree surround-view camera system nine-speaker Sony sound system and electric tailgate – the Glacier gets a panoramic sunroof, head-up display, an integrated dashcam, heated and ventilated front seats and 19-inch alloy wheels.

ALSO READ: Opposition beware? Jaecoo J7 preparing for a fight

Safety features a hindrance

There is plenty of leg and headroom in the rear, while boot space of 412 litres makes light work of school runs and groceries.

Advanced safety systems include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, auto high beam assist, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, traffic jam assist and blind-spot monitoring.

While the Jaecoo J7 is as safe as a house, it has the potential to turn into a madhouse due to all the pings and pongs, ranging from an annoying indicator sound to constant warnings. You can switch them off, but come to live again after the car is turned off.

Jaecoo J7
Just look at the size of that screen. Picture: Jaco van der Merwe

Jaecoo J7 packs a punch

Out on the road, the Jaecoo J7 Glacier is a comfortable ride, maybe a tad on the firm side.

Throttle calibration, which isn’t ideal elsewhere in the Chery stable, seems much improved from other offerings.

The blown mill is quite lively and surprised us with a 0-100km/h time of 8.3 seconds.

Fuel consumption, which is also a contentious issue across all Chinese manufacturers, worked out 10 litres per 100 kilometres over about 500km with little open-road driving.

A pure-bred off-roader, the Jaecoo J7 is not, especially not in front-wheel drive guise, but it should be fine for the occasional dash down a dirt road.


Like all Chery products, Chinese cars for that matter, the price is one of its biggest drawcards. At R599 900 the Jaecoo J7 Glacier offers a lot of spec and a curbside appeal which stands out from its Chery and Omoda siblings. It might just be another winner.

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