Interior-wise & Driving it

The funkiest item has to be the handbrake lever, which Chery cleverly camouflaged to resemble the flat plastic that’s between the front seats

If Chery wanted the J1 to convey a look of cheeriness, they certainly succeeded with the interior. In a market segment where most interiors are of the monotone theme, the J1 livens things up with a cabin that's clad in two-toned beige/grey upholstery. The plastics used all around may not have the best feel, but considering this car’s price range, this becomes somewhat acceptable.     

Set inside those binnacles are the J1’s blue instrument cluster. It looks good (since the car we tested was also blue), but it somehow also tended to reflect glare. In particular, you can’t really make out the fuel gauge unless you activate the headlights, which in turn, activates the blue backlighting.

The dash’s center console houses an integrated audio unit that plays single CDs.  Considering the car’s lively interior scheme, we wished more could’ve been done over here. The funkiest item has to be the handbrake lever, which Chery cleverly camouflaged to resemble the flat plastic that’s between the front seats. (Wait…didn’t they want us to find it?)

With a wheelbase of 2,390mm, the J1 is better as a four seater, unless your fifth passenger doesn’t mind being the filling in a three-person sandwich. The cab-forward design creates an airy feel up front, which is important in cars like these. The airy feeling in front however, doesn’t exactly extend to the rear - luckily, there’s an optional sunroof that can always brighten things up back here.

City cars should have small engines that are potent enough to zip you from one nearby point to another. Anything overly powerful is wasted, as there’s not enough road for the engine to stretch its legs.

The 1.3 liter Acteco unit is therefore just right. It’s rated for 81bhp at 6,000rpm and a modest 114Nm at 3,800rpm. It does need to be prodded to wring the performance from it, but this is where the fun comes in.

The engine’s power is fed via a 5-speed manual transmission, and boy, this was easily the most satisfying part of our drive. We initially expected something similar to the T11 we tested last month (with its vague clutch and clanky shifter), but we were glad to find the exact opposite here. 


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Engine Capacity 1297cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 81bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 114Nm @ 3800rpm
Power to Weight 77.9 bhp per ton


Acceleration 15s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 156 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 16.7 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 5 -speed Manual
Drive Type FF


Body Type Sedan
(L x W x H)
(3700 x 1578 x 1527) mm
Wheelbase 2390 mm
Kerb Weight 1040 kg


Brakes (Front) Discs
Brakes (Rear) Drums