JAC T6 offers room and good looks for the price of smaller SUVs: driven and evaluated

One of the best ways to reach the attention of customers is to offer more than the competition for a lower price. In the automotive world, that can be done by selling a larger car for the price of a smaller one. Renault has done so with Logan and Sandero and these cars have placed the French automaker among the biggest companies in Brazil. Now JAC tries to do exactly the same by negotiating a C segment SUV for the price of a B segment model. And the vehicle that attempts to find its way into the hearts and garages of clients is the JAC T6.

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The T6 is also known as the S5. It has styling cues from Audi and Hyundai. While that helps to make it more pleasant to the eyes, it also shows that the Chinese automaker desperately needs a guy like Peter Schreyer to conceive a brand identity and try to print it in all JAC models. If it was not for the badge, you would probably see each of the company’s products as made by an entirely different company. That would present JAC as a more mature manufacturer, but not only that.

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There are things in the T6 that also show there is room for improvement in many areas. Such as the hand brake, which did not stop the car unless you almost rip off the lever. Or the chromed fake side vent, which was rusty in the unit we have tested. But these are details that the 6-year warranty JAC offers can easily solve. It is just a pity that they are not solved before the buyers feel they exist. Good first impressions are important to a brand that is still introducing itself in a market.

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If you forgive these minor problems or is not even aware of them and decide to give the car a chance, the first impact you get is the price. The T6 costs R$ 74,790 in Brazil. That is equivalent to US$ 20,600. A Ford EcoSport, a Fiesta-based SUV, costs R$ 75,690 in its best-selling version, the FreeStyle 1.6, a smaller and less powerful vehicle. A slightly larger competitor, the Renault Duster, costs R$ 71,500 in its Dynamique 1.6 version. The 2.0 engine costs R$ 81,800, much more than the T6 with a similar engine. We don’t even mention the new B segment SUV darlings, such as the Jeep Renegade (R$ 74,990) or the Honda HR-V (R$ 78,700), but they are more expensive. And also smaller than this JAC.

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The T6 is 4.48 m long, 1.84 m wide, 1.67 m tall and it has a wheelbase of 2.65 m. It weighs 1,460 kg and its luggage compartment can carry 610 l of baggage. The 2.0 4-cylinder engine that powers it generates 118 kW at 6,000 rpm and 202 Nm at 4,000. JAC claims its top speed is 186 km/h and that it can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 11.8 s. But how does the car feel behind the wheel?

 

Driving the JAC T6

The T6 is one of the best Chinese cars we have ever driven in what relates to its suspension. It copes well with potholes and other asphalt problems. Perhaps not as well as the Renault Duster Oroch we have evaluated last week, but it is comfortable and, unlikely other cars with supple ride, it does roll too much on curves. It does not torture the passengers on bad tarmac not the driver on twisty roads.

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There is good room for five tall adults in the car and plenty of space for their luggage. The finishing materials, made of hard plastic, present some signs of use and tend to show even more as time goes by. Even if the car ages well in terms of mechanics, as the 90,000 km J3 Turin we have already evaluated has proven, there is a huge chance it looks older than it really is.

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JAC cars seem to have a common engine behavior: above 3,000 rpm they do not respond as well as before. The engine seems to get lazy after that limit, as if it resisted to accelerate. The gear shifting is easy, but somehow loose. JAC vehicles still lack that fit throw that is common in more traditional carmaker products. The instrument panel brings an electronic indication for the best gear to be selected and it reinforces the T6 is a car that likes to use low revolutions to move around. It does not offer an automatic transmission, something seen as a major downside for a vehicle this big, even if it only competes in terms of price with manual transmission SUVs.

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In terms of ergonomics, the steering wheel can only be adjusted in height, not in distance. It should, but that does not affect the good driving position the car offers. The dashboard is not exactly easy to read and the materials that cover them reflect too much light, what makes it even harder to check the information you need sometimes.

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The version we have tested came fully loaded, including the sound system with a 7-inch touchscreen. With all that, the car costs R$ 84,890, still a bargain compared to the closest competitors in terms of price. If this is enough reason for your to give the car a shot, you should. As we have mentioned, it has a 6-year warranty period. Even if it devaluates more than others, what you will initially save may be worth the odds.

 

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.