By Ruben D. Manahan 4th Reporter

The JMC Orion proposes Chinese cars can be surprisingly good

THE only word that best describes my experience with the JMC Orion is “surprising.” You see, that’s because the thing with this sport-ute is that it dispels most of the myths surrounding Chinese vehicles.

This might be Dreamco Automobile Co.’s—exclusive manufacturer and distributor of JMC—way of letting the Philippine car market know that it has what it takes to compete locally.

I must admit that, initially, the Orion wasn’t much of an eye candy, considering that it and all other SUVs look similar to me when I saw the vehicle at the Philippine International Motor Show last year. But when I got the chance to drive it recently, this seven-seat sport-ute got my attention.

Although there are some unusual noises when revving the engine, the Orion provides good numbers in terms of power and mileage. This is due to its Dura-Torque 2.4-liter TDCi diesel engine that has a variable-geometry turbo-charger—the same engine, according to Dreamco, used by Ford, Land Rover and several other European cars. It delivers 117 horsepower at 3,400rpm and 290 Newton-meter of torque from a low rev range between 1,600rpm to 3,200rpm. So on drives around the Metro as I run some surprise errands, as well as other trips, the Orion proved it isn’t a gas-guzzler at all.

Also, this midsize SUV can compete in terms of comfort and safety with other known brands in the market. The Orion is mounted on a ladder-frame chassis, with a double wishbone and coil spring suspension in front, and a five-link and coil spring with lateral-thrust pole setup in the rear. Giving an extra security blanket for its occupants are dual airbags and ABS with EBD, which when combined with the high-strength cabin construction provide ample safety. ELR seatbelts and lap belts extend all the way to the third-row seats, too.

Dreamco is set to deliver the first units of the Orion within the month. It sells the vehicle for P1.130 million—a little less than what popular SUVs in the market cost.

Despite having some minor issues, I’m sure the Orion can take a slice of the midsize SUV segment in a few year’s time.


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