Named after a giant hunter in Greek mythology, the all-new Orion S350 is JMC's best bet against the competitive mid-size SUV market, dominated by the likes of the Montero Sport and Fortuner. Just don't be too hopeful to find anything about it on Google, because it's better known as the JMC Yusheng in its native country.
It's built on a pickup-based ladder frame chassis and seats seven passengers. And because JMC produces Fords in China, they took the liberty of borrowing technology from the blue oval - more specifically a 2.4L JX-series TDCi engine that puts out 138 hp and 285 Nm of torque. Only a five-speed manual transmission is currently on offer, but at least the Orion comes with ABS and EBD as standard.
It's kinda easy to see where the Orion gets its looks. We couldn't help but associate it with Ford, and its sister brand, Mazda. The front sorta resembles the BT-50 and the TDCi badge at the back seems to have been directly lifted off a Focus, while the body is... a mash-up of some other SUVs from both brands. And though the interior may have a distinctive “China plastic” smell, the Orion is well-equipped with electric front seats, leather seats, 2-DIN six-speaker sound system, and a multi-information display. It's also up to par with its closest competitors in terms of safety, packing dual front airbags, door impact beams, and use of high tensile steel in its body structure.
The all-new JMC Orion is a good alternative for an entry-level mid-size SUV. Priced at P1,130,000, it certainly offers more features for less cash.
What is essentially the truck version of the Orion, JMC is also offering the Vigor pickup truck. It's powered by the same 2.4L TDCi engine with a five-speed transmission and two-wheel drive. Although not much has been said about the Vigor, it also shares most of its interior with its SUV brother, except for less luxuries here and there. JMC Philippines is planning to release the Vigor in early 2013 and is expected to be priced within the P900,000 mark.
As a conglomerate of the Star Motors Group, JMC Philippines has the benefit of being able to share facilities with its local sister companies. That's why they opted to locally-assemble the Orion and Vigor at their parent company's plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Aside from these two heavyweights, JMC Philippines also sells an entry-level pickup that goes by the name Hunter, and bigger two to three ton trucks called the Compadre. It's really interesting to see how these Chinese car brands are building a name for themselves here in the Philippines. And with an experienced company backing them up, we're sure that JMC Philippines is here to stay.