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MIAS 2024: Astara PH leads JAC reboot in the country

The new distributor previews the brand’s expansive six-model product line

The JS8 Pro is JAC’s flagship crossover. PHOTO BY RED SANTIAGO

A couple of months ago, Astara Philippines announced the addition of Chinese carmaker JAC Motors to its portfolio. The brand does offer a wide range of products, like passenger and commercial vehicles, as well as heavy-duty trucks.

If it rings a bell, that’s because JAC has already been in the market before. First, it was the brand’s light-duty trucks and other CVs. Then, another distributor brought its passenger vehicles into the country some years ago.

While the CVs sold pretty well, the same can’t be said for its passenger vehicles. Now, Astara Philippines wants to change that and has given JAC Motors Philippines a reboot at the ongoing 2024 Manila International Auto Show.

More than having a new logo, seasoned industry veteran Tonette Lee gave us a preview of the brand’s fresh six-vehicle lineup on the opening day of the annual event.

The T8 Pro is a stylish work truck. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

First, let’s talk about its pickups. The T8 Pro, which used to be the brand’s flagship pickup, is now made for fleet owners and businesses. Up front is a huge black hexagonal grille with an equally big JAC emblem.

Overall, the T8 Pro—though it is meant to be a work truck—it does look quite sporty. It comes with a 2.0-liter CTI engine that makes 167hp and 410Nm. The truck has a 210mm minimum ground clearance and a maximum water-wading depth of 1,200mm.

Highlighted features include an Apple CarPlay- and Android Auto-capable infotainment system, rear air vents, multiple charge points, and a power sunroof.

If you think the T8 Pro looks good, wait till you see the T9. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

The other pickup is the brawnier T9, which has an imposing front end, simple yet tough-looking sides, and a truck bed. It’s like the T8 Pro on steroids.

Inside, you’ll find a laser-brushed texture dash and a huge 10.4-inch vertical infotainment screen. Behind the tiller is a seven-inch LCD instrument cluster. There’s also a cooled center console box, a wireless charger, USB charge points, and household-type 220V outlets.

Like the T8 Pro, the T9 is powered by a 167hp 2.0-liter CTI engine, a 210mm minimum ground clearance, and reportedly a 1,200mm maximum flood-wading capability.

The familiar JS4 has been updated to keep up with the times. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

Next, we talk about the crossovers. First is the familiar-looking JS4. We say so because the model was available before as the S4. The crossover got a new face featuring JAC’s “parallel geometric” design. The rear echoes that styling, with a clean-looking tailgate.

No powertrain details have been given, but we won’t be surprised if it’s powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbo engine that could be paired with either a six-speed manual or a CVT.

The JS4 will have automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay- and Android Auto-capable infotainment system, and oodles of space for five adults.

The JS6 is JAC’s classier five-seat crossover. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

Next is the bigger five-seater JS6. Here C-shaped DRLs meet a lightbar that spans the vehicle’s width. Like the smaller JS4, the headlamps are placed lower in the bumper with a neat grille design. The sides have distinct character lines and minimal creases for a simple yet sleek look.

Like the front, the rear taillamp combination has a light strip that stretches on either side, bookended by an inverted 7-shaped lighting element.

Banner features include a push-start system, a 24.6-inch dual-screen display, a 360° camera system, a wireless charger, and leather seats.

The JS6 will be specced with a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine. No other technical features have been shared.

The JS8 Pro is the Chinese brand’s flagship crossover. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

JAC Philippines’ biggest crossover offering is the JS8 Pro. Up front, the “striking star waterfall armor grille”—with chrome inserts, DRLs, and LED headlamps—has a cohesive look. The sides have a clean look, with plastic cladding accentuating the wheel arches where 19-inch wheels can be found.

The rear end also features a taillamp-and-lightbar combo that spans the vehicle’s width. The two-piece bumper looks good, with the black cladding adding some flair to it.

Outstanding features include a 360° skylight panoramic sunroof, plush styling, twin 12.3-inch screens for the instrumentation, and an infotainment system. Under the hood is a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, which JAC Philippines claims offers great performance and fuel efficiency.

The quirkily named Ytterby is JAC’s first new-energy vehicle offering in the country. PHOTOS BY RED SANTIAGO

Finally, JAC brings its first EV to the country. The Ytterby is a cute battery-electric vehicle with an impressive estimated range of 505km.

Despite its size, the Ytterby comes loaded with features including a 12.8-inch infotainment screen, a panoramic sunroof, and a parking assistance system.

The preview, according to Lee, is just “the tip of the iceberg” as Astara aims to bring more JAC vehicles to our market. JAC Philippines plans to start selling its products in August.

Red Santiago

A jack of all trades, Red is passionate about cars, motorcycles and audio. He sometimes drives for a ride-hailing app company—just because he really loves driving.