August 02, 2019 By Kevin C. Limjoco Photos by Andréas N. Delos Reyes

2019 JAC M4 1.9 CTI Refine

The reasonable school bus

If the all-new JAC M4 van somehow resembles a Hyundai Starex, there is a good reason for that. JAC and Hyundai had a joint venture building rebadged 1st generation Starex’s under license from 2002 to 2015. JAC builds on the robust long wheelbase Hyundai chassis for their new 1st generation M4 since 2016.

Aside from the similar overall size and appearance, JAC employs their own drivetrain and everything else. It is not a bad looking mini-van at all, it would in fact look quite good and handle much better with larger and more pleasing redesigned alloys on better tires which JAC has on the facelifted model. The NVH is good, better than most of its genre costing much more.

The interior configuration and design are straightforward and is actually better than similarly packaged Hyundai Starex’s until its 2nd generation 2018 facelift. The first two bench row seats recline with adjustable headrests, and have rigid jump seats which altogether accommodates three people per row, while the three-seat third row with adjustable headrests can be folded and removed to increase load capacity. You would need to as well as when the third row is upright you can only load limited soft bags in the trunk. The front seats thankfully are separated individually not just for driver and passenger comfort but for better visibility for the second- row passengers. Having the traditional small seat in the front bench is not just unsafe but uncomfortable. They even included an additional USB power outlet between the third and fourth row seats.

I am happy to see that JAC was thorough with its standard safety equipment, from the front airbags to the multiple ABS-supported active nannies. Every occupant has either a lap-belt or full three-point seatbelt. ISOFIX mounts for child seats are also standard. The rear climate controls combined with the front are so strong that even with our test unit not having window tint, the cabin would get quite frosty. The single-DIN audio head unit streams Bluetooth audio and telephony through a decent sounding 6-speaker system. The M4 is quite a long van so its good that it also comes with standard rear parking sensors.

The instrument cluster is good too though I hope JAC Philippines can update the firmware to translate the Chinese characters into the English alphabet. The single sliding door is alright for cost management and better cabin rigidity; besides, passengers should enter and exit from the right curbside under almost every situation anyhow. The steering wheel and steering were much better than expected. The 6-speed manual was very easy to modulate as well.

The turbocharged 1.9-liter diesel engine drives the rear wheels with more energy than previous model Toyota HiAce’s and Innova’s. The very compliant ride is very good in the city, but beyond 90 km/h on the highway, the M4 begins to ride like you are on pogo sticks. The M4 rides on hard 205/70R15 100S WANLI S-1023 XL tires which could be a factor.

There is certainly quite a lot of obvious cost-saving measures throughout the M4, however JAC can be credited for maximizing the balance nonetheless to create a very useful, affordable and comfortable people mover.



Engine Inline-4, 1947 cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection Turbodiesel, VVT, 6-speed MT
Max Power (bhp @ rpm) 124 bhp @ 4000 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm) 210 lb-ft @ 2200-2600 rpm


Top Speed 172 km/h (107 mph)
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph 13.2 sec.

Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions

Fuel Milage (km/l) 13.9 km/L overall


Price as Tested (PHP) PhP 1,220,000.00
What's Great 11-seat capacity, very strong air-conditioner, rear-drive, good visibility, spacious, good seating management, frugal, good in-town ride, affordability.
What's Not So Choppy ride at motorway speeds, unattractive standard alloy design, needs a better infotainment system, fit and finish, industrial, better with the 5-speed automatic, halogen headlights, drum rear brakes, new facelift coming soon improves the aesthetics and makes more power (139 bhp / 229 lb-ft).
C! Editors Rating 8/10
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