First Drive Review: GAC GS3 Emzoom, bringing the fight to Proton X50 next year, CKD
Shaun · Nov 15, 2023 10:42 AM
WTC Automotif (WTCA), the official distributor of GAC models in Malaysia, is reloading its ammo in the B-segment SUV competition with the all-new second-generation GAC GS3 (named GS3 Emzoom in some markets).
We were given the opportunity sample the GS3 Emzoom in China, courtesy of EWTCA and GAC Motor, but more on that shortly.
First, a refresh of the GAC GS3 Emzoom. Built from the ground up on GAC's latest GPMA (GAC Global Platform Modular Architecture) platform, the GS3 Emzoom promises substantial improvements across its exterior, cabin, and powertrain.
In terms of exterior design, GAC has taken a bold approach, giving the GS3 Emzoom a striking and aggressive appearance. The front grille boasts sharp creases and vertical slats, complemented by new LED headlights with a angular design.
The rear of the vehicle is equally distinctive, featuring dual centrally-mounted muffler tips and an eye-catching diffuser with vertical slats. It also features flush door handles.
Inside the cabin, the GS3 Emzoom incorporates a dual digital screen setup along with colour-coded air vents and dashboard trim. There’s also a crystal knob for the shift-by-wire system, and a mix of USB-A and USB-C ports.
Ahead of the driver lies a 7-inch digital instrument cluster, while the infotainment screen size goes up to 12.3 inches, depending on the variant. Powering the GS3 Emzoom is a turbocharged 1.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine delivering 177 PS and 270 Nm, coupled with a wet-type dual-clutch transmission (DCT).
Interior aesthetics are leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor, while material quality is par for the course in its segment - a splatter of leather across middle sections of the cabin and hard plastics in areas rarely touched.
The dual-widescreen displays are crisp with snappy response time. As far as initial impressions of the interior go, it’s quite positive based on the brief session behind the wheel of the GAC GS3 Emzoom.
Onto the drive, GAC Motor had arranged an obstacle course for their cars, which included an acceleration and braking test, slaloms, and figure 8s. Based on the course, the GS3 Emzoom revealed its matured characteristics that goes in contrast to how it looks.
Acceleration from the 1.5-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is strong, though there is a bit of a delay before the boost kicks in. Once it does, the DCT does its job to keep it on boil. Shifts are on the smoother side rather than snappy, unlike some other performance-biased DCTs.
Steering is light and feedback is virtually non-existent, and the ratio itself is rather slow. On an obstacle course with slaloms and figure 8s, these characteristics manifest themselves rather noticeably. Body roll is quite apparent as well, though it’s kept in check and doesn’t become unwieldy.
However, the softly sprung setup does give the GS3 Emzoom a good level of pliancy over uneven surfaces. Noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) is impressive as powertrain and tyre noise are kept low, complementing the pliant ride.
And that’s about it from the brief test drive session. Based on what we were told, our Malaysian-spec GAC GS3 Emzoom will have identical setup in terms of suspension or powertrain tuning.
The only difference is in the ADAS department, where local testing will be done to suit the conditions as well as to comply with the regulations here.
WTCA CEO Tan Keng Meng has said that CKD production is slated to commence in April 2024, with sales expected to kick off in mid-2024.
Does it stand a chance in the highly competitive segment? As always, it ultimately comes down to price. The Chery Omoda 5 starts from RM 108k to RM 118k, while the Proton X50 Flagship and Honda HR-V Turbo go for RM 113k and RM 135k respectively.
Should the 2024 GAC GS3 Emzoom position itself at the lower end of the above spectrum, it could prove to be a competitive offering for WTCA.
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