Good but can be better
When I first heard about Jetour Auto coming to the Philippines, I had no idea what to expect. At the time, all I knew was that it was a new brand coming from China and it has its sights set on the crossover market, as well as in the mini EV segment.
But after learning that Jetour Auto is a sub-brand of Chery Holdings, I became curious about what the brand has to offer. While Chery may have had a rough history in the Philippines, it's actually now one of the top-performing auto brands from the PRC. With vehicles like the Tiggo 5X, Tiggo 7 Pro, and Tiggo 8 Pro becoming a normal sight on our roads, will Jetour Auto be able to get the same success?
When the automaker officially made its presence felt at the 2023 Manila International Auto Show, one of the vehicles that quickly got my attention was the X70 Plus. Since it serves as the brand's sole 7-seater crossover SUV, will its sleek looks, massive size, and wide range of features be enough to attract buyers looking for a three-row vehicle?
First things first, let’s talk about its stylish exterior. Since the X70 Plus is the biggest (and most expensive) vehicle in Jetour’s lineup, it has to look sporty yet also elegant. Immediately greeting you is the massive front grille and the sleek headlights that are accompanied by the eye-catching vertical LED daytime running lights (DRLs). Flick the turn signals or hazard lights and you’ll also be mesmerized by the sequential LED lights.
Move to the side and you’ll be surprised to see it rolls on massive 20-inch alloy wheels. Combined with the X70 Plus’ huge size, distinct beltline, and generous use of chrome trim pieces on the windows, grille, and doors, the crossover shows off its imposing presence indeed. Did I mention it also has a nice set of L-shaped LED taillights that also come with sequential LED turn signals?
What I'm not a fan of, however, are the quad exhaust pipes. Sure, they may be nice to look at but they're not exactly the real Mccoy. They're actually fake exhaust tips as the real exhaust pipe can be found below. I wish Jetour actually decided to just show the exhaust instead of having to resort to using faux tips.
Hop inside and the X70 Plus greets you with a high-class-looking cabin. While it may not be a full-blown luxury SUV, I have to hand it to Jetour for making the X70 Plus look posh despite selling only for PHP 1.5 million. From the diamond-quilted carpets, power-adjustable front seats, full-leather upholstery, high center armrest, cooled center glovebox, and generous use of gloss black finishes, the cabin of the X70 Plus is a nice place to be whether you're the driver or passenger.
In case you haven't noticed it yet, there's a huge panoramic sunroof that lets more light into the cabin. I'm not exactly the biggest fan of sunroofs but after spending a good time with the X70 Plus, I grew to like it. The automatic climate control always does its job of keeping the cabin cool. So much so, that sometimes I find myself turning it off just to keep myself from freezing no matter how high I adjust the temperature. However, I do wish the controls for the climate control made use of dials and buttons as I'm not too fond of the X70 Plus' use of a touch-sensitive panel.
Like most modern cars today, the X70 Plus has a pair of screens – one serves as the digital instrument panel while the other is the touchscreen infotainment system. The graphics on both screens are crisp and provide a clear view of the necessary information. Not bad, but I do wish it came with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay instead of just Bluetooth. While it does have CarbitLink which can project a smartphone's screen onto the infotainment system, it's not as intuitive to use and it tends to be buggy at times.
The interior is posh and comes with plenty of toys to play with. However, I did notice it lacked certain amenities. For starters, it doesn’t come with a rear center armrest for the second row. This is an odd omission since most vehicles in this segment come with a center armrest for the rear passengers. Heck, some smaller vehicles like sedans and hatchbacks already have them as standard equipment.
If you happen to be seated in the third row and it’s a hot day outside, you might want to bring a portable fan with you. That’s because there are no aircon vents for those seated at the very back. In addition, the legroom in the third row is best suited for kids or shorter adults due to the limited space even when you move the second-row seats forward for that extra bit of cabin space.
There are also no charging ports to be found unless you count the 12V socket near the cargo area. If you’re okay with that, better hope you’ve brought a 12V socket charger and a long cable to keep you company. At least there are a pair of cupholders to accommodate your drinks or your smartphones.
Under the hood, a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder serves as the beating heart of the X70 Plus. It makes a respectable 156 PS at 5500 rpm along with a humble 230 Nm of torque between 1750 to 4000 rpm. Power is then sent to the front wheels via a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that drives the front wheels.
I can already sense that furrow in your eyebrows after mentioning that it only has a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine. Can this tiny engine actually pull this 7-seater midsize SUV? After spending a good week behind the wheel (and behind the driver’s seat), I have to say it’s more than capable of pulling the X70 Plus.
With torque readily available at 1750 rpm, pulling power comes in early which helps give the 7-seater the motivation it needs to move. Bury your foot even further and the turbocharged engine is more than eager to give the X70 Plus some extra get-up and go. I was able to test this with four additional passengers, as well as some light cargo at the back. And if that’s not enough, you can set the transmission to Sport Mode which sharpens acceleration. It’s not much but it does the job.
The mere mention of the words “dual-clutch transmission” may send most buyers running for the hills. This is not surprising given that previous attempts from other automakers did not really sit quite well in terms of reliability and smoothness. But unlike the dry dual-clutch system offered before, the Jetour X70 Plus has a “wet” dual-clutch system.
In simple terms, this means the gearbox has transmission fluid that keeps the cogs lubricated while also minimizing wear which helps it last longer. More importantly, the lubrication ensures the gear changes are smoother compared to a dry dual-clutch system. On the X70 Plus, the 6-speed wet dual-clutch actually delivered on that. However, I wish the DCT was more refined when moving from a standstill.
Don’t get me wrong, it can switch between cogs seamlessly from second gear all the way to sixth gear. But from a standstill at first gear, the transmission tends to deliver some shift shock when it switches to the next cog, much like a driver who just learned how to release the clutch in a manual without stalling. In addition, it tends to hold on to the revs (around 2.5K rpm) before actually switching to second gear which might surprise newer drivers.
As far as fuel consumption is concerned, the X70 Plus was able to return around 9.5 to 10 km/L in light city driving at an average speed between 25 to 30 km/h. Out on the highway, the 7-seater was able to average 15 km/L at best. While these are acceptable figures, I believe Jetour could have used a 7-speed or 8-speed dual-clutch instead in order to maximize its fuel economy. If the Chery Tiggo 8 Pro can make use of a 7-speed DCT, perhaps the X70 Plus can also get that transmission in a future update.
So the powertrain is good although it could be better. But what about its ride and handling? For starters, riding comfort is perhaps one of its best traits. Even with massive 20-inch alloy wheels, the 7-seater delivered a comfy ride, particularly in the second row. It was able to absorb the harshest of bumps while still delivering a pliant ride. When seated at the front, however, the ride is slightly bumpier but not too harsh that it will deliver a jarring ride.
Handling-wise, I’m happy to report that it’s easy to maneuver despite its relatively huge size. It may not be exactly geared to deliver sharp handling, but it’s able to handle itself well in tight turns, mild corners, and narrow side streets. And combined with a 360-degree camera, it makes navigating the narrowest of roads a cinch. In fact, the 360-degree camera automatically turns on when you’re making turns to ensure you have all-around visibility. You can turn it off in the settings and manually turn it on via a switch on the center console if that is more to your liking.
The Jetour X70 Plus surely impressed us with its stylish looks, upscale-looking cabin, high-tech amenities, turbocharged powertrain, and soft ride. It also provides extra peace of mind to occupants thanks to intelligent driver aids that come in the form of blind-spot monitoring, tire pressure monitoring, lane-departure warning, and dynamic emergency braking.
However, I do feel that Jetour could have at least improved its packaging as well as parts of its cabin. The turbocharged engine performed well including the wet dual-clutch transmission although a bit more refinement wouldn’t hurt to make it more refined. Last but certainly not least, more standard amenities will help justify its PHP 1.499 million price tag. I was actually surprised to see that the X70 Plus only comes with halogen headlights, as well as a regular rearview mirror instead of the auto-dimming kind.
On the other hand, the sticker price does already include a 6-year unlimited bumper-to-bumper warranty and the 10-year powertrain warranty. Perhaps the only thing it’s missing is a comprehensive 3-year service plan in order to attract more buyers to the Jetour brand.
The X70 Plus has the makings of a spacious, comfortable, and capable 7-seater midsize crossover SUV. But with certain features missing, customers might go for something else. After all, it's them who proved it was possible to get a lot of features for less.