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Omoda and Jaecoo's design languages reveal who they are for

Mikko David · Sep 10, 2023 01:05 PM

Omoda and Jaecoo will soon land on Philippine shores with their eye-catching designs. Are they enough to lure you into their fold?

Omoda and Jaecoo will soon land on Philippine shores with their eye-catching designs. Are they enough to lure you into their fold?

Disclosure: Omoda and Jaecoo Philippines invited AutoFun Philippines to a 5-day, all-expense paid business trip to China as part of the press introduction activities for both brands. 

One of the first things that would catch the eye of a car buyer is the vehicle’s design. Manufacturers put much time and effort into creating a design language highlighting a model’s strengths and purpose. 

Frankly, this wasn’t always the case with Chinese cars. If you’re old enough to remember their car design cloning practice only a little over a decade ago, you’ll likely dismiss anything coming from the mainland as a copycat of another brand’s efforts.

Today, however, there’s a new wave of Chinese cars that are confident enough with their designs to go global. In some ways, Chinese car brands have even created an identity for themselves. Let’s take Omoda and Jaecoo, two upcoming Mainland marques. 

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Omoda 5 and Jaecoo 7

A  test drive activity dedicated to Philippine journalists. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID 

In a recent trip to Anhui province in China, where the Chery manufacturing facility is located, the Philippine motoring press was invited to see first-hand the soon-to-be-released Omoda 5 and the Jaecoo 7 and 8 crossovers. The two new marques belong to the Chery Holdings lineup of brands, along with Chery and Exceed. 

While we’ve already seen press photos and videos of both models online, there’s still a different feel to actually seeing every nook and cranny of a car in person. 

Omoda 5: Bold, daring and unabashedly Chinese 

Omoda 5

The Omoda 5 is banking on modern styling cues to appeal to younger buyers. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID

From the outside, it’s easy to identify the Omoda 5 as a Chinese car. The front bumpers, with their cut-out grille styling, are a dead giveaway. 

The Omoda 5's head and tail lamp assemblies are also well integrated into the design. Both pieces blend well with the curves of the bumper and body. The DRLs lie flush just under the hood line, and their jagged edges make for a futuristic finish that may appeal to the younger set.

Omoda 5 grille

Cut-out bumper grilles are a trademark Chinese design trend. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID

Omoda 5 taillight

The Omoda 5 piano-key-like tail lamps should stand out at night when you're following one on the road. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID

While the whole profile and silhouette of the Omoda 5 is more akin to a fastback’s, its tall ride height and choice of 18-inch wheels and tires suggest a more rugged crossover use case. 20-inch alloys would have blended better with the modern styling. But that's something your friendly neighborhood wheel shop in Evangelista or Banawe can fix.

Omoda 5 sideview

The Omoda 5's wheel arches are just begging for larger wheels. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID

As with current styling trends nowadays, colored trims have replaced chrome as the go-to highlighting pieces. Having said that, red accents are aplenty, even down to the wheels. Ask any Zennial, and they'll say chrome is for their uncles and grampas. Ouch.

Omoda 5 red accents

Just one of the many red accents the Omoda 5 will have. A for effort here. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID

On-road driving was fine with the Omoda 5 by any modern standard. But adding a bit of off-road ability was welcome. On the third day of our visit, a test course with steel ramps and steel road rails, which simulated pothole-ridden roads, was provided for us to drive the Omoda 5 through. 

Omoda 5 departure angle

Is your parking building's ramp like this? PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID

In scenarios like these, the Omoda 5’s  SUV-ish approach and departure angles and decent ground clearance of 145mm made sense.  It’s not designed for serious off-roading, and it doesn’t have four-wheel drive, but there’s still some redeeming value to having a car that’s able to drive up off-spec ramps and over giant humps without scraping the front end or its underbelly. 

The back will remind you of a Lexus with its sharp and edgy angles. A two-piece rear wing adds a bit more flair to the floating roof concept, too. What does bother me are the fake exhaust trims on the rear diffuser. Sure, they look nice from afar, but actual functional exhaust ports would have made the Omoda 5's design more authentic and truly functional.

Omoda 5 rear view

The Omoda 5's back looks like a Lexus', doesn't it? PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID


Omoda 5 rear wing

Double-wing design seems to be en vogue nowadays. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID

Omoda and Jaecoo's design languages reveal who they are for 10

Omoda isn't the only car brand with faux exhausts. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID

The Omoda 5 is anything but utilitarian, though. It is clearly an urban cruiser by virtue of its futuristic styling. Catering to a younger audience, think of the Omoda 5 as a more affordable Changan Uni-T or Uni-K as Omoda and Jaecoo Philippines intend to price it below the 1.5-million peso mark. 

Jaecoo 7 and 8: Classic proportions for the mature crowd

Jaecoo 7

The Jaecoo 7 projects a more subdued and formal design language. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID

It’s no secret that Chery and Land Rover have a 50:50 joint venture in China. With Jaecoo introducing itself as a more upscale brand in the Chery Holdings lineup, it’s no wonder it takes design inspiration from the Land Rover Discovery and even the Evoque, at least to our eyes.

Both Jaecoo models we saw and drove featured a more boxy profile than the Omoda. Despite this direction, Jaecoo designers were able to soften the edges and give them back urban credentials. The gentle transitions between the body panels and the arches suggest a muscular metrosexual vibe rather than a utilitarian off-roader. More Evoque than Defender, if that makes more sense to you.

Jaecoo 7 rear

Pronounced wheel arches and faux rear vents give the Jaecoo 7 a more contemporary vibe. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID

There is a touch of modernity, though, on both of the Jaecoo models. Retracting door handles make for a neat party trick when you're trying to impress your officemates. At least these can be grabbed like normal door handles, unlike those that only protrude out on one side and require finger gymnastics to operate.

Omoda and Jaecoo's design languages reveal who they are for 13

But there's one design piece that literally stands out on both the Jaecoo 7 and 8. Yeah, you guessed it, the grille. Humungous might be an understatement here, but they sure give the car an unmistakable identity. The Jaecoo branding on the grille also takes some "pogi points" away from the otherwise head-turning styling. A well-designed logo would have sufficed. But since Jaecoo is still in the process of introducing itself, it might as well make use of the large real estate up front.

Jaecoo 8 grille

Unmistakably Jaecoo. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID

The Jaecoo lineup had a more familiar and, therefore, appealing flavor. They’re not as out of this world as the Omoda 5. The design language suggests that the Jaecoo 7 and 8 are going after a more mature target market. Stylish enough to deserve a second look but not too outrageous that only those with ADHD would appreciate. 

Jaecoo 8

The Jaecoo 8 has the road presence to tango with premium models. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID

Even the interiors of the Jaecoo 8 showed a more classy, even though subdued, finish. A decent mix of textured materials, white leatherette for the seats and center console, as well as tan leather on the higher variant, and chrome finishes accentuated the dashboard and doors. It screams premium without being over the top. 

Jaecoo 8

Premium enough for you? Jaecoo isn't the only car brand that uses white seats and tan surfaces. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID 

As a near-50-year-old, the Jaecoo models appealed to me more with their visuals. Both communicated a luxurious vibe right out of the parking lot. And more so when I drove the Jaecoo 8 on the Chery test track, where I got to experience the Jaecoo 8’s harmonious meld of design and function. But that's for another story.

Jaecoo 8

The Jaecoo 8 is a design revelation. PHOTO BY MIKKO DAVID

Omoda and Jaecoo Philippines (yes, this will be the subsidiary's company name), is still sorting out its pricing for its Jaecoo lineup. Its current 1.6-liter mill-equipped models break out of the tax break that 1.5-liter engine-equipped Chinese cars currently enjoy. 

The Philippine subsidiary is currently working on sourcing the Jaecoo models from an overseas Chery manufacturing facility that will allow the brand some pricing leeway to be more competitive once it comes out on sale early next year.

Are they worth the wait? Considering how much effort the mother company is putting in to get both Omoda and Jaecoo to start on the right foot, they should be. 


Mikko David


With an automotive career spanning 27 years as a former touring car racer turned automotive journalist and photographer, Mikko also handled marketing and PR for two major Japanese car brands before finding peace and purpose in sharing his views about cars, driving, and mobility.

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