There’s another new Chinese auto brand in Malaysia, and it’s GAC Motor. Guangzhou Automobile Group’s local partner is the Tan Chong Group, and we’ve spotted the new brand’s first showroom. Occupying a lot beside Nissan at TC’s Jalan Ipoh headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, the signboard with the GAC Motor name was installed yesterday.

According to a TC rep, the new brand will be officially announced this year. There’s less than two weeks before the end of 2021, which means that it’s going to be very, very soon. This development comes shortly after the Tan Chong Group introduced the JMC (Jiangling Motors Co) brand in Malaysia, along with the Vigus Pro pick-up truck in October.

The relationship officially started in December 2020, when Tan Chong signed an MoU with GAC Motor for the potential sales and assembly of GAC vehicles in Malaysia and Vietnam. Early this year, we spotted camouflaged mules of GAC’s GS3 SUV testing in Malaysia, and this B-segment SUV could very well be the debut model for the brand in Malaysia.

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In China, the GAC GS3 SUV is powered by a 1.5L three-cylinder turbo engine with 163 PS and 235 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm. Drive is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The 163 PS/235 Nm output is between the Proton X50’s two engines – the standard 150 PS/226 Nm and the Flagship’s direct-injected 177 PS/255 Nm.

In its home market, the Trumpchi GS3 can also be had with a 1.5L NA four-cylinder engine (115 PS/150 Nm) and a 1.3L four-cylinder turbo with 137 PS/202 Nm. As such, the 1.5L three-pot turbo would be the best fit for Malaysia, as it’s on par with the Chinese B-SUV that everyone knows.

Size wise, the GS3’s footprint is very similar to the X50’s, but it’s a fair bit (76 mm) taller. At 4,350 mm long and 1,825 mm wide, the GAC is 20 mm longer and 25 mm wider than the Geely-based Proton. As such, it will be significantly larger than the Perodua Ativa, the other local reference SUV.

We should be getting the GS3 in facelifted form, which means a full-height front grille with slim twin-barrel LED headlamps. There’s a bit of X50 at the rearmost pillars, where the windows are visually connected to the rear screen, creating a floating roof effect.

The cabin has minimalist design and employs the Mercedes-Benz-style screen layout, where the infotainment screen is an extension of the instrument panel. The latter is digital, of course. The GS3 can be had with ADAS driver assist systems in China.

If it is indeed the launch model for the GAC Motor brand, the GS3 will be entering a very competitive RM100k to RM150k SUV segment that has the Proton X50 and Proton X70, recent entry Toyota Corolla Cross, the just-updated Subaru XV and the one that started it all, the Honda HR-V, among others. Lower variants of larger SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 are priced below RM150k, too.

It’s crowded to say the least, and price/content will be very important for the GS3. As Tan Chong is an established assembler with ample capacity, GAC vehicles could either be CKD locally assembled or they could use the common method of an initial CBU imported batch, before CKD operations takes over. Check out the GAC GS3 below – what do you think?

GALLERY: GAC Trumpchi GS3 Power in China