The Exeed RX will be rebadged as the Omoda C9 in South Africa

Following their successful arrivals in South Africa, Omoda and Jaecoo have revealed their range expansion plans for the near future.

Chinese automaker Chery has successfully launched its export-only Omoda and Jaecoo brands in the South African market over the past year. The Omoda C5 compact crossover is already becoming a favourite of the value-conscious but trendy set, and the Jaecoo J7 mid-size SUV has been drawing favourable reviews since its arrival midway through April 2024.

Both of these brands are now ready to build on this momentum with the imminent release of their next wave of products through the rest of 2024, and with even more exciting models to arrive further down the line. These are the insights we’ve gathered during our recent visit to Chery International’s head quarters in Wuhu, China.

Shop for a new or pre-owned Omoda C5 or Jaecoo J7 in these great selections on CHANGECARS!

The Exeed RX's rising waistline and coupe-like profile perfectly fits the Omoda design language as well.

Omoda C9

This model is known in its home market as the Exeed RX, but will be renamed as the Omoda C9 when it arrives in South Africa during the third quarter of 2024. It features similar styling cues to the compact C5 we already know, including the pointed nose, sloped tailgate and rising waistline, but its enlarged dimensions helps it wear those styling elements even more gracefully.

Omoda’s C9 has more than just swagger counting in its favour, however, because that swoopy styling cloaks a very impressive mechanical package. Motive power is provided by Chery’s corporate 2.0-litre turbo engine, delivering a staunch 193 kW and 400 Nm in this application. This is sent to all four wheels by way of a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

A sleek profile and commanding stance gives the Omoda C9 real presence.The AWD system itself deserves closer scrutiny, because it is a computer-controlled setup with advanced torque-vectoring capabilities. Developed with GKN (a leading OEM driveline system supplier), this system doesn’t rely on individual brake applications to direct the torque, as is the current norm.

Instead, it features multi-plate clutch packs to distribute the torque, and can send all the torque to one wheel if need be. This AWD system is also used by Jaguar Land Rover, and plays a large part in the Range Rover’s off-road prowess.

The suspension setup is no less advanced, with independent wheel location on each corner and adaptive electromagnetic dampers which control body motions with up to 100 adjustments per second. It actively restricts body roll while cornering, and reduces squat while accelerating and nose dive while braking - all without employing beefy but comfort-destroying anti-roll bars or stiff springs.

Luxury is the name of the game inside the Omoda C9, with a gigantic centre screen and superbly comfortable seats.

Technology is the name of the game inside as well, with the enormous slab of display screen (24.6 inches of it), encompassing the instrument cluster and infotainment system and powered by the lightning-quick Qualcomm Snapdragon 8155 microprocessor. Luxury features abound, and include electric seat adjustment with extending cushion sections, heated and ventilated seats front and rear, leather upholstery, and a 14-speaker audio system.

Related: The Omoda C5 GT proved to be an impressive package in our review, with a premium driving experience and compelling performance for its price.

Mechanically similar to the Omoda C9 but with an even greater emphasis on luxury, the Jaecoo J8 is a compelling executive SUV.

Jaecoo J8

Slotting in above the well-received Jaecoo J7, the J8 targets more-affluent customers who value refinement, performance and luxury, but don’t want to compromise on all-terrain ability or practicality.

Under the skin, it shares the Omoda C9’s mechanical specifications, so it also boasts the clever AWD system, potent 2.0-litre turbo engine, and continuously variable damping suspension. It aims at a higher level of luxury, though, with more cabin space on account of its higher roofline, even if it offers mostly the same creature comfort features as the big Omoda.

The Jaecoo J8 demonstrated remarkable agility and composure during our brief test drive at Chery's headquarters in China.

This is also one of the models we got to test drive while visiting China recently. The test involved a short autocross-type circuit with a short sprinting area, followed by a hairpin and ending off in a slalom.

The J8 immediately impressed with its gutsy pullaway, but the real eye-opener was the way it dealt with the hairpin and slalom. It behaved like a much smaller and lighter car in the twisty bits, and changed direction with alacrity and Teutonic stability.

Only later, during the media briefing, did it transpire that these were the cumulative effects of the clever suspension system and torque-vectoring AWD system. Now we’re eagerly awaiting the Jaecoo J8’s arrival in South Africa in the second half of 2024, to put it to the test on our potholed and speed-humped roads.

Related: Get all the details about the exciting and value-packed Jaecoo J7 in our launch report.

The Omoda E5 looks very similar to its petrol-powered C5 sibling, bar the absence of a front grille.

Omoda E5

This is the electric sibling of the petrol-powered C5 with which the Omoda brand launched in South Africa, and, apart from its grille-less nose and altered wheel design, it looks much like the combustion-engined model. It is also FWD-only, so this compact crossover is really an on-road vehicle with some butched-up styling.

Also expected to arrive in South Africa in the second half of this year, the E5 boasts a 61 kWh battery and electric motor outputs of 150 kW and 340 Nm. This should give it an electric driving range of up to 430 km, and a 0 - 100 km/h sprint in 7.2 seconds. It can accommodate 80 kW direct-current fast charging, and can recharge from 30% to 80% in only 28 minutes when hooked up to such a charger.

However, the E5’s biggest selling point will likely be its ability to provide electricity to its owner’s home when Eskom trips the power. Its vehicle-to-home power output amounts to 3.3 kW, which should be enough to power your microwave and keep a fridge and some lights running during loadshedding.

Related: Compact electric crossovers can be huge fun to drive, as we found in this review of the Volvo XC40 Recharge.

The well-received Jaecoo J7 is mooted to receive a PHEV variant in 2025.

Other upcoming Omoda and Jaecoo models

We also had opportunity to try some other Jaecoo products, which are destined for South Africa but for which the arrival timeline hasn’t been pinned down yet.

The Jaecoo J7 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) features a similar powertrain to the upcoming Chery Tiggo 9, and its 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine and electric motor produce total system outputs of about 175 kW and 385 Nm. This is sent to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission.

This may just be one of the nicest hybrids out there, because its power delivery is smooth and well-calibrated, and it really scooted around the same test track where we sampled the J8 earlier. Once again, its crisp handling impressed, likely because it uses a similarly clever AWD system to that of the petrol-only J7 and J8.

This cutie's name is the Jaecoo J6, and it's an all-electric compact SUV destined to slot below the J7 in our local line-up.Due to slot in below the J7 in the hierarchy is the cute little J6, which looks like the offspring of a new Discovery and a Jimny. This model will only be available as an EV, but we suspect that its appearance alone will be enough to help buyers forget that it’s powered by electrons.

We tried the RWD (single-motor) version with 137 kW, and, while its performance is quite satisfactory, the AWD (twin-motor) version with 208 kW should be whole lot more fun-to-drive. They all have the same 69.8 kWh battery, however, giving a driving range of up to 501 km.

The Jaecoo J8 will launch with only a petrol engine, but a PHEV is scheduled to arrive at a later stage.Jaecoo also announced the J8 PHEV during the 2024 Beijing auto show, and it should be a real treat when it arrives in South Africa (we hope to see it midway through 2025). Combining the already-potent 2.0-litre turbo engine with a 2-motor hybrid setup which sends power into the main gearbox through a three-speed gearbox of its own (phew!), the J8 PHEV has an impressive 280 kW and 605 Nm on tap, which could result in a 0 - 100 km/h sprint in less than 5 seconds.

The Omoda C7 is set to slot between the smaller C5 and C9 in the Omoda hierarchy, and will combine some of the best elements of both.Omoda has something else that’s brand-new and on its way to South Africa, with the C7 mid-range model being revealed during our visit to the Chery headquarters. Details about the C7 are still vague, but we do know that it will be available with the same PHEV power unit as the Jaecoo J7, and that it boasts a similar adaptive suspension setup to that in the J8.

Omoda's C7 continues the sweeping beltline and angled tailgate of its siblings.The Omoda C7 premieres an active noise cancellation system which cuts out up to 90% of all engine- and road noises, and a sliding centre screen which enables the front passenger to watch videos without turning their head. High-tech and fashion-forward, this plug-in hybrid crossover should find plenty of interest, not least because it should run more than 1 200 km between refills and recharges.

Martin Pretorius