Jetour X70 in Dali.
After reporting on my rental Peugeot 301 and Hyundai Celesta, it is now time to relate my visits to Chinese dealerships and all the quick test drives that resulted. From 5 in 2018, the number of new Chinese cars I was able to get my hands on leaps up to 9 this year. We’ll start with the Jetour X70 I tried in Dali, Yunnan province. You can also consult my Shanghai Auto Show 2019 interview of the Jetour’s General Manager detailing the reasons behind the brand’s formidable initial success.
The new Jetour Dali dealership and a very low Odo.
After insisting to the point of begging, the Jetour staff in the shining new Dali dealership reluctantly accepts to let me drive the model on display, whose odo shows only 32 km. Next to the showroom are two sofas with a sign saying “Sofa negotiation”. Selling cars is no joke at Jetour!
Jetour X70 exterior
The model I’m driving is the 240T variant priced at 111.900 yuan or 14.450€/US$16.300 which is starting to be quite significant in China, especially for a Chinese brand and a very new one at that. The driving position sits very high on the road with the bonnet also seemingly extremely high, but in a good way reminiscent of the Haval H9 I drove two years ago. My first impression: it’s a very large vehicle, much larger than I anticipated, both in, with ample leg room for the back passengers and out, with its imposing silhouette and high ground clearance (a Chinese specificity), especially looking from the rear.
Jetour X70 interior snaps
Inside, it’s a lot less impressive. Granted, there are some really nice touches such as a very generous sunroof, classy toggles on the sporty steering wheel a la Peugeot 3008 and USB port galore even in the back. But the overall impression is of old-fashion, try-hard plastics that are either too hard or too shiny, something Chery (Jetour’s owner) has got used to over the years. If the car was priced say 25,000 yuan less it would be ok, but not at 100k+ yuan.
The Jetour X70 imposes a very long lag before power kicks in.
But interior and exterior details are easily checked at an Auto Show, and what I’m really here for is to actually drive the car. And this is where the penny drops. When pressing the accelerator, there is an excruciatingly long lag – the longest of all the Chinese vehicles I tested this year – before power kicks in. It’s so long that by the time power is finally here, chances are you don’t need to accelerate anymore. Note that once gone, it’s actually quite powerful.
This is very disappointing for a car that has been so successful to date with an average of 10.000 wholesales per month over the first 6 months, and also given the “Tourism, family travel” positioning of the brand. I wouldn’t want to drive long distances in such a sluggish car. But perhaps most significantly, it also says a lot about the priorities of Tier 2, 3 and 4 Chinese buyers who, judging by the stunning success of the X70 so far, seem to prefer an imposing, big-looking car over dynamic handling.
Why is it successful? High-ride, dominant position on the road, spacious vehicle and novelty effect of a new brand.