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We broke the news of a new Chinese brand in Malaysia last week, distributed by the Tan Chong Group. With a new showroom being set up at TC’s Jalan Ipoh headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, we were told that the GAC Motor brand will be officially announced this year. Yes, this year, even if there are just a few more days left in 2021.

Looks like it’s happening as promised. On Christmas Day, the newly set up GAC Motor Malaysia Facebook page posted up a teaser image proclaiming “3 Days Left”, which points to December 28 as the launch date. The image you see above has the Petronas Twin Towers and the GAC GS3 SUV, which we speculated will be GAC’s debut model here. The TC subsidiary for GAC Motor is WTC Automotif.

The new brand followed that up with a “2 Days Left” sequel teaser yesterday, this time showing the B-segment SUV’s headlamp and Putrajaya. The cut on the inside of the headlamp confirms that we’re getting the facelifted version of the GS3, which has a bold full-height front grille.

In the latter, we see a “single eye” projector and bulb signal lamp, which means that we’re not getting the highest spec headlamps, which sports twin square barrels and LED strip signals.

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.

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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.

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.

The GAC 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.

By the way, this isn’t coming out from nowhere. The Tan Chong-Guangzhou Automobile Group relationship officially started in December 2020, when both parties signed an MoU 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.

This development also 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, and it appears that TC is diversifying from their long-time “bread and butter” brand in Malaysia – Nissan.

Check out the GAC GS3 below – what do you think of this SUV?

GALLERY: GAC Trumpchi GS3 Power in China