Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify?

Sanjay · Sep 18, 2022 09:00 AM

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 01

Not too many cars these days are truly bottom barrel, in spite of whatever netizens clack away on their keyboards daily. We've come a long way from cars just purely built to transport – you know those types – but does the 2022 GAC GS3 belong in that category?

     

Overview: GAC GS3 Premium
Price RM 105,800 (OTR with SST, variant as tested)
Segment B-segment SUV
Engine 1.5-litre NA 4-cyl
Transmission 6-speed AT
Power 114 PS @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 150 Nm @ 4,500 rpm
Origin CBU, China

A Chery nor Geely this isn't, we'll say as much. Perhaps it does have something good behind its non-threatening face, but it takes some digging...

Exterior: Plain jane automobile

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 01

If there's a visual representation of the expression "ok lo..." then this GS3 is the dictionary definition. Not the most stunningest thing around, but neither is it a slop of unheated leftover porridge either. It's just...alright.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 02

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 03

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 04

Again, not necessarily a bad thing because it'll have its fans who like thier understated designs. Choice touches – a neat red line on the grille, small trapezoidal metal badges by the side, and distinctive LED lights – all help to liven the simple looks a bit.

Also read: Priced from RM 88k, GAC GS3 is here to challenge the Proton X50, comes with Apple CarPlay

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 05

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 06

China-market GS3 looks upmarket-er

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 07

GAC GS3 as sold in Malaysia. Different headlights and wheels

Ours come facelifted; but we lose the nicer wheels available on its Chinese-market counterpart, and no LED headlights either. Just plain ol' halogens, not too big of an issue as the warmer colours do help with penetration in rainy/foggy weather, even if it looks a little old school.

Interior: Simple, but tough to understand

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 08

Oh dear, we're not sure how or why this has happened but despite the new exterior, our GS3's cabin oddly belongs to the old pre-facelift model.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 09

China-market GS3's interior. Notice the digital bits and air-cond vents

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 10

Our GS3's interior isn't the most attractive

Yes, it's hard to believe, and it took us a few rounds of reading up on Chinese websites too. But it's true, ours – in all its analogue dials and vertical air-cond slats splendour – are entirely dissimilar from the much, much more modern interior of the properly new GS3.

Also read: X50 or Ativa waiting period too long? Here are 16 photos of the GAC GS3 to change your min

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 11

Plenty of leather

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 12

Orange stripes break up the monotony

Quality though is better than aesthetics suggest, with numerous soft padding and leather touchpoints. Where there's hard plastic, they aren't the soft cheapo scratchy kinds. First impressions could be worse...

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 13

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 14

Logical button placements and a nice sunroof further sweeten the deal of the cabin, but get to actually using the digital bits and the relative lack of effort taken in polishing it muddies the lengths they've taken to make the rest of the car.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 15

...what?

You see, this is GAC's first-ever right-hand drive (RHD) model with supposedly over 130 changes made to it, but those obviously didn't include language.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 16

Not sure if angry girlfriend, or the car is trying to tell me something

Sadly it's an 'Oh My English!' moment in here, with all kinds of headscratching English that I personally feel cheapens everything else.

Also read: Review: 2020 Proton X50 - all the pros and flaws about Malaysia's most-hyped SUV!

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 17

The 8-inch headunit is where you find a lot of the car's settings squirrelled away, and though it offers plenty of customisation, performance is really nothing to shout about. The screen is not unlike mid-range aftermarket ones; visual quality is barely acceptable and the screen doesn't feel very nice to touch.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 18

Sound quality remains sub-par whether or not the equaliser looks like the Mariana trench or if GALA is on (whatever that does), but er, at least there's Apple CarPlay. Android users are stuck with plain ol' Bluetooth and remember, changing the player isn't an option because you'll lose access to other functions.

Also read: Pros and Cons: 2022 Perodua Alza - Best sub-RM 100k car, but not without its small niggles

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 19

Slow-witted screen aside, it's nice that air-cond controls are still typical buttons, as they're so much more friendlier to use while driving.

Cabin Space: Plenty of it to go around

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 20

Despite the foibles in ergonomics and general polish, the GS3 notches some points with extra space. It's slightly bigger than the Proton X50 – both with similar pricetags, hoo boy hasn't GAC got to fight for every inch – which might be appealing to some.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 21

It's only 25 mm girthier than the Geely-based SUV (1,825 mm vs 1,820 mm), but it feels like the interior is better packaged, so three-abreast seating here feels marginally better.

Also read: Pros and Cons: Love the 2020 Proton X50's comfortable suspension, hate the seats

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 22

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 23

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 24

Head- and legroom are good, with 2 tennis balls fitting between my noggin and the headliner, and two more between my knees and the front seats. If you're on the better side of 175 cm, you'll be rather comfortable.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 25

Central space is a little tiny; one phone or wallet and little else fits there

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 26

There's a few cupholders around the cabin, though nothing too big that'll swallow your 1.5-litre water bottles whole. Smaller bottles are fine. Parents with small children and all the knick-knacks they entail, be forewarned.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 27

The little box on the centre tunnel is just that, little, and easily filled up with a wallet and your keys.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 28

Boot space is a plainly average 356 litres with the rear seats up, but push the 60:40 split-folding rear seats down and there's 780 litres of room; good enough for a couple days out of the city.

Driving: Not an overperformer

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 29

Look, driving this thing is not bad per se but it all melds into one lukewarm package because nothing is truly outstanding. Note too that it's one of the few rare new SUVs to not get neither a turbo or a hybrid system strapped alongside its engine.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 30

A 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder with 114 PS and 150 Nm is the sole option across both variants here, and just like the numbers suggest, powerful it is not. It's not terrible, it remains a relatively quiet engine with adequate power to not feel ENTIRELY anaemic, but if you're looking for an SUV that's even a smidge fun, this ain't it.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 31

Manual mode is accessed by pressing the D-M-E button

Paired to that is a 6-speed Aisin-sourced torque converter automatic (not a CVT), that's pretty good on its own. Shifts are generally smooth and rather interestingly the 'Manual' mode really is full-manual: you can slam the redline if you so choose.

Also read: We pick the best 2022 Honda HR-V - S, E, V, or RS, VTEC Turbo or Hybrid?

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 32

Acceleration isn't its strong suit, taking a measly 16.2 seconds to hit 100 km/h from a standstill. Slamming the brakes from that speed will stop the car in 46.1 meters, or just 3.4 seconds.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 33

Fuel consumption tests returned an on-the-money 6.8 litres/100 km, exactly as claimed.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 34

As a whole, the powertrain is inoffensive. It does its job, is relatively efficient, and simple. Steering on the other hand, is abysmal.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 35

It just does the basic job of putting you on the road, but in every other aspect it's vague like a mumbly, moody teenager after being told to do the dishes. It's hard to trust where the wheels are pointing, and the 'deadzone' feeling is downright jarring at higher speeds.

Also read: Finally! 2023 Toyota Vios gets telescopic steering (and more), closes gap with Honda City

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 36

You can set the speed alert to ring at 10 km/h. Very fun prank

Don't bother with the synthetic 'drive modes' either: the GAC allows you to choose between Normal, Comfort and Sport steering modes but we couldn't discern anything different between the first latter pair anyway. 'Sport' is a scam; it adds artificial heft to the steering wheel that only serves to make the vague tiller doubly annoying to deal with.

Ride comfort: Generally fine

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 37

Ride comfort in the GAC GS3 is fairly middle-ground, again, nothing that makes us long intensely at another go at the wheel. The chunky tyres do help in absorbing road ruts and imperfections a bit, but overall performance is forgettable. Leao Batman isn't really a trusted name either, so proceed with caution.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 38

Suspension articulation is very old-school and could be made way better. It suffers from the usual China-car syndrome where it's relatively firm (like the Binyue and Jiaji we tested in China back in 2019), and that doesn't translate to Malaysian roads so well.

Also read: Review: Geely Jiaji (Proton V70), the MPV that Proton desperately needs

Verdict: Uncommon isn't always great

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 39

Where to begin? With prices starting from RM 96,800 (Standard variant, which is even more barebones than this) to RM 105,800 (Premium, as tested) the 2022 GAC GS3 Power launches itself in a hotly-contested arena that includes the Proton X50 and Perodua Ativa.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 40

And that's just in its segment; we don't need to remind you what else are there at prices cheaper than this. Cars that come with full ADAS at prices magnitudes lower, while you only get 6 airbags and blind spot monitors (BSM) here. 

Also read: Review: The all-new 2022 Perodua Alza is the best car for under RM 100k, period

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 41

Its five-year, 150,000-kilometre warranty is also easily outdone by rivals, and GAC doesn't have the most extensive aftersales network either. And with a brand as fledgling this to Malaysians, we'd argue this is very important for buyers.

Review: For X50 money, the 2022 GAC GS3 certainly asks a lot from Malaysians, but can it justify? 42

At bestyou get a cabin that's just OK, perhaps an innocuous exterior that's easy to look at, and we're sure the relatively efficient, simple NA engine and torque converter combo will have its fans too.

But that's all, and that's the problem. It's so quickly forgotten.

Sanjay

Senior Writer

With humble beginnings collecting diecast models and spending hours virtually tuning dream cars on the computer, his love of cars has delightfully transformed into a career. Sanjay enjoys how the same passion for cars transcends boundaries and brings people together.

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