Inspired by the heavy-duty light commercial vehicle, the Nissan NV200 (popularly used as the default taxi for New York and London cities), this is the JAC M3 Refine compact-MPV. The rear-wheel driven JAC M3 actually looks better and has stronger projector headlights compared to the longer wheelbase front-wheel driven Nissan. The M3 Refine is surprisingly very accommodating, offering a lot of capacity for its P895,000.00 price tag supported with a full 5-year factory warranty. The JAC M3’s exterior design is very similar to its larger turbodiesel-powered M4 brother but it has better looking proportions. I wish JAC had named their MPV’s with less confusing monikers though, I’m amazed that BMW hasn’t acted on it.
The M3 Refine’s adult 7-seater capacity is genuine (stitched fabric surfaces) with reasonably good legroom even in the third-row bench while still having more rear trunk storage than expected. The JAC brochure indicates an 8-passenger capacity and does have the proper seatbelts too but for maximum comfort I recommend only two people for the third-row. The second and third-row benches are well-padded and comfortable but do not offer adjustments to slide the benches fore or aft, or recline the backrests but they do fold flat and tumble to increase cargo volume. The second-row has three ISOFIX mounts which is excellent. The third-row is a 50/50 split and can be folded and tumbled independently to increase rear storage capacity further.
The hydraulic steering is nicely weighted but a little sluggish. The 5-speed manual transmission works and engages well with smooth clutch actuation. The standard steel wheels with hub-caps wrapped with Chao Yang Radial RP26 195/65R15 95H tires are very industrial. Upgrading the wheels to nice after-market alloys wrapped with more premium rubber would drastically improve the ride and handling abilities of the M3 Refine. To keep the M3 Refine motivated, I had to deliberately drive a touch more aggressively. The brakes, discs up front and drums at the rear, do have ABS with EBD and do work well but they feel wooden. The suspension needs to be weighted down to get more favorable ride comfort but in doing so also labors the normally-aspirated 118 bhp / 111 lb-ft @ 3500-4500 rpm 1.6-liter engine. I hope JAC Philippines offers the more useful 144 bhp / 155 lb-ft @ 2000-4400 rpm turbocharged 1.5-liter engine in the near future.
Our white test unit did come with standard rear parking sonar but it should have included a rear camera, then again, the single-DIN basic audio system doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity and powers only two front speakers. Thankfully, JAC installed rear panels in the third-row that accommodate two additional speakers, so you can easily upgrade the audio to a proper double-DIN infotainment system that would fit after removing the old system and frame.
I completely appreciate that the Philippine JAC distributor, Triesenburg Auto Corporation, endeavors to sell maximum valued products to their customers which inevitably results in potential packaging compromises. Thankfully the newer models from JAC do have considerably better fit-and-finish as well as packaging, for example, the upcoming all-new S4 compact crossover looks great with tremendous potential.
|Engine||Inline-4, 1590 cc, dohc 16V, Multi-Point Injection, VVT, 5-Speed MT|
|Max Power (bhp @ rpm)||118 bhp @ 6000 rpm|
|Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm)||111 lb-ft @ 3500-4500 rpm|
|Top Speed||168 km/h (105 mph)|
|0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph||13.6 sec.|
Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
|Fuel Milage (km/l)||8.6 L/100 kms. Overall|
|Price as Tested (PHP)||PhP 895,000.00|
|What's Great||Inspired by the Nissan NV200 cabby, comfortable seats, capacity, versatility, strong air conditioner, utilitarian.|
|What's Not So||Needs more pep, steel wheels, needs a better audio system, no front fog lamps, pedestrian interior packaging, leaf-spring rear suspension|
|C! Editors Rating||7.5/10|