A couple of disguised vehicles, identified as the GAC Trumpchi GS3 SUV, have been spotted by reader Enche Ariel undergoing road tests in Perak. The GS3, or likely the facelifted GS3 Power in this case, is a B-segment SUV produced by GAC Group and sold under the Trumpchi brand in China.

If you’re wondering what the car is doing here in Malaysia, well, it’s likely part of a feasibility study resulting from the MoU signing between TC Overseas Assets Holdings Labuan (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tan Chong Motor Holdings) and GAC Motor International. The MoU is valid until July 1, 2021, and includes the possibility of assembling and selling GAC models in Malaysia and Vietnam.

The Perak plate also points towards the possibility of the SUV being assembled at Tan Chong Motor Holdings’ new RM500 million automotive hub (on 338 acres of land) in Bagan Datuk. Plans for the hub were announced back in mid-2018, and at the time, the company said its commercial vehicles production line was set to kick off at the location in 2021. While speculative, is the sighting of the SUV a coincidence then?

Now, on to the SUV. The prototype seen here appears to be a right-hand drive unit. If so, that would make it a first for the GS3 model. The GS3 is currently not available in right-hand drive markets, and there exists no RHD version of it as well, not homologated ones at least.

In China, the refreshed, range-topping SUV is powered by a 1,493 cc turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine. The direct-injection mill (Euro 6 emissions-compliant) makes 163 PS at 5,500 rpm and 235 Nm of torque at 1,500 to 4,000 rpm. Drive is sent to the front wheels either through a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, with the top speed reportedly being 165 km/h.

Curiously, there are reports suggesting the existence of an even more powerful 1.5T four-cylinder engine. That unit makes 169 PS and 265 Nm of torque, and all that gets sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automated manual transmission (AMT). At this point, we’d like to remind you that getting information from China websites is always tricky (remember how we all thought the original Boyue had a six-speed DCT last time?), so take these bits with a grain of salt.

In any case, both 1.5T engines in the GS3 Power are more powerful than the non-TGDi Proton X50s. The 1.5T PFI three-potter offers 150 PS at 5,500 rpm and 226 Nm from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm, while the 1.5 TGDi lump churns out 177 PS at 5,500 rpm and 255 Nm from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm.

There are cheaper, non-Power models as well. Those are powered by either a 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine developing 115 PS and 150 Nm of torque, or a 1.3 litre four-cylinder turbo that makes 137 PS and 202 Nm of torque. Transmission options here include a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic, the latter sourced from Aisin.

In terms of dimensions, the GS3 Power measures 4,350 mm in length, 1,825 mm wide, 1,685 mm tall, and has a wheelbase of 2,560 mm. That makes it 20 mm longer, 25 mm wider, and up to 76 mm taller than the X50. However, the GS3 Power’s wheelbase is 40 mm shorter than the X50’s, and weighs between 1,315 kg to 1,380 kg depending on the variant. It’s really close, then.

Other notable features include McPherson struts for the front suspension, torsion beam suspension for the rear, disc brakes on all four corners (front units are ventilated, rears are solid), plus electric power steering. In terms of colours, the older GS3 can be had in five colours, but sportier blue and red hues have been introduced with the arrival of the updated GS3 Power.

Design-wise, the GS3 Power gets a massive front grille, almost in the vein of Lexus’ spindle grille. The headlights have been updated with dual projector LED units, and photos of the SUV in China show new 18-inch aeroblade-style dual-tone wheels. Those appear sportier than the twin-five spoke units seen on the camouflage testers here, but again, nothing is quite set in stone at the moment. The LED combination tail lights are also new.

Based on these photos, the cabin is clearly not to the level of the Geely Binyue/Proton X50. The facelift adds on a Mercedes-esque conjoined twin displays, one for the instrumentation and the other for the 10.25-inch widescreen infotainment system. This sees the centre vents take on the shape of an oblong, while the surrounding trim features a carbon-fibre print in its entirety.

Elsewhere, you’ll find keyless entry with push-start button, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, three rectangular control hubs for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, front and rear USB ports, a six-speaker configuration, plus power adjustable front seats. The rear seats feature a 60:40 split and reclining function, too. Boot space remains unchanged from before at 370 litres, but expands up to 780 litres with the rear seatbacks folded down.

For safety, the standard kit includes three-point seatbelts for all five seats, dual front airbags (top model gets additional side airbags for a total of four), ABS with EBD, electronic stability programme, traction control system, hill-start assist, hill descent control, and Isofix child seat anchor points for the rear seats. Apparently, the GS3 Power is equipped with ADiGO advanced driver assist system, which includes active brake assist, front collision warning system, and lane departure warning.

In China, the GS3 Power is priced at 102,800 yuan, which is roughly RM64k after conversion. The starting price for non-Power models (pre-facelift; these have yet to be updated) starts from 73,800 yuan (RM46k). So, what do you think of this?

GALLERY: GAC Trumpchi GS3 Power spyshots in Perak, Malaysia

GALLERY: GAC Trumpchi GS3 Power in China