REVIEW: GAC GS3 Emzoom – 1.5L turbo B-SUV priced from RM119k OTR in Malaysia; we try it out in China

REVIEW: GAC GS3 Emzoom – 1.5L turbo B-SUV priced from RM119k OTR in Malaysia; we try it out in China

The official arrival of GAC Motor in Malaysia brought with it the GAC GS3 B-segment SUV in 2021, though the intervening three years has brought its successor, the second-generation GAC GS3 Emzoom into the Malaysian market, having been made available for booking in Malaysia in January, to be priced below RM130,000 and offered in two variants – Exclusive and Premium-R.

The 2024 GAC GS3 Emzoom has been officially launched in Malaysia in these two variants, priced from RM118,900 for the Exclusive, up to RM128,900 for the Premium-R.

Being a B-segment SUV, the GS3 Emzoom is an entrant in a hotly contested segment in Malaysia occupied by the likes of the Chery Omoda 5Honda HR-V and Proton X50, which is some formidable competition that the GS3 Emzoom is pitched against.

Before doing so, GAC vehicle importer and distributor Warisan Tan Chong Automotif (WTCA) invited publications to Guangzhou, China to briefly sample the B-segment SUV as a taster before the GS3 Emzoom’s arrival on Malaysian shores. How did the B-segment crossover fare in the brief overseas sampling?

First, the exterior of the GS3 Emzoom is immediately apparent as a thoroughly restyled model relative to its predecessor, where the new car’s more pronounced use of straight lines and sharp creases visually signify the generational change.

To these eyes it’s a striking aesthetic, with the GS3 Emzoom’s headlamps and tail lamps, exterior mirrors as well as front and rear bumper styling in particular being distinct visual cues that give the firm’s B-segment crossover entry a unique identity.

Ditto the wheels, which also sport acute angles and straight lines in their design. In R-Style guise in the brand’s native Chinese market (Premium-R as revealed for Malaysia), the variant brings a sportier look courtesy of extensions on the front bumper and a diffuser-like setup on the rear bumper, with contrasting orange highlights.

The interior of the latest GS3 Emzoom also represents a significant step change in styling, where its predecessor’s cowled analogue instrumentation and infotainment unit are succeeded in the new model by a set of digital displays for drive instrumentation as well as infotainment, both situated on the dashboard fascia in a more open manner.

While the centre console and infotainment screen are angled slightly towards the driver, the dashboard offers a more open, spacious feeling rather than an ensconced, wrap-around sensation despite the relatively high-set central console, which offers a secondary space for oddments on the tier beneath the transmission selector and the pair of cupholders.

From the driver’s seat, the three-spoke multi-function steering wheel is sporty in its appearance and reasonably pleasing to hold, with the implied sportiness again surfacing in elements including the perforated leather in the left- and right-hand regions of the wheel rim.

REVIEW: GAC GS3 Emzoom – 1.5L turbo B-SUV priced from RM119k OTR in Malaysia; we try it out in China

Before turning a wheel in the left-hand-drive example, sitting stationary in the driver’s seat of the GS3 Emzoom offers touch points of a perceived quality that would appear to be par for the segment course, with leather, robust metal-look trim and soft-touch panels where immediately visible, and harder-feeling plastics in more concealed areas of the cabin.

Briefly sampling the infotainment menus of the native Chinese-market units on offer demonstrated sufficiently crisp responses, and the displays are clear to the view.

Our drive time with the GS3 Emzoom in Guangzhou, China was held within the confines of a temporary course that consisted of a straight-line acceleration and braking zone, slalom and figure-of-eight sections, offering a brief, if limited hands-on experience of the brand’s latest B-segment SUV entry.

REVIEW: GAC GS3 Emzoom – 1.5L turbo B-SUV priced from RM119k OTR in Malaysia; we try it out in China

Beginning our drive time in the GS3 Emzoom with the straight-line acceleration and braking test segment summons the 177 PS/270 Nm 1.5 litre turbocharged inline-four cylinder petrol engine, which is sufficiently zesty in its responses. Its exhaust note is as expected of the commonly used configuration, though much more subdued than the car’s exterior would have one expect at first.

While no timed runs were exercised, its claimed 7.5 seconds in the 0-100 km/h sprint feels believable. Serving as the link to the driven front wheels, the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is one that leans towards the more relaxed end of the spectrum for its type, as there are snappier-shifting dual-clutch examples on the market.

Taking to the slalom and figure-of-eight sections of the test course, the GS3 Emzoom continues to demonstrate a more relaxed demeanour than its rather extroverted exterior styling would have one believe, instead revealing a chassis that is more obliging, rather than engaging of a keen driver who wants to press on.

The steering is light, even for a B-segment vehicle, and is bereft of any real feedback, as the helm does not load up in weight even when plenty is asked of the front tyres when the GS3 Emzoom is put through its paces in the confines of the course. The setup feels to be of a relatively slow ratio, too, with a considerable amount of wheel twirling required.

The GS3 Emzoom chassis appears to be one that is set up for comfort, with considerable lean experienced even for a crossover, from what feels like relatively low spring rate. Conversely, the trade-off for the very audible protests of the tyres in the handling section, is a commendable level of compliance over moderately sharp ridges as demonstrated when traversing joints in the slabs of concrete on the test grounds. As for primary ride, a more definitive finding will have to be reserved for a later sampling on our local roads.

An unexpectedly relaxed device the GS3 Emzoom is, then, in contrast to its overtly sporty exterior styling. Should the brand’s Malaysian-market GS3 Emzoom carry over its native Chinese market chassis calibration, this may yet prove to be pliant enough for the challenges of our local road surfaces, particularly in the Klang Valley.

Considered in isolation, the GS3 Emzoom majors on sharp styling, and as claimed by GAC, segment-best engine torque output with 270 Nm on tap, and while the new entrant from GAC is physically larger in its exterior compared to its competitors, whether or not that advantage translates to interior space will require further exploring.

Elsewhere as an ownership proposition, the brand is being built up by distributor WTCA who is setting out to have more than 20 showrooms and service centres nationwide by the third quarter of this year, with 15 dealerships in the country to date. This should bode well for the brand, considering its relative youth in the Malaysian market.

2024 GAC GS3 Emzoom Premium R in Malaysia

2024 GAC GS3 Emzoom Exclusive in Malaysia

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Mick Chan

Open roads and closed circuits hold great allure for Mick Chan. Driving heaven to him is exercising a playful chassis on twisty paths; prizes ergonomics and involvement over gadgetry. Spent three years at a motoring newspaper and short stint with a magazine prior to joining this website.

 

Comments

  • Clean King on Apr 19, 2024 at 5:21 pm

    Wow this car look so smart. Habis lah kereta Jepun. Japanese days are really numbered if this car is priced well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 11
    • Not really. There are people who still loves toyota, honda or mazda, not only just this car. But of course, anything better than p2

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1
      • Clean King on Apr 25, 2024 at 9:26 am

        With the high inflation and collapse of Japanese economy, it is very very very expensive to build or manufacture anything in Japan. Same like Europe. Consumers know this and they also know if you buy Japanese made today, you’ll never get the same price and quality of what Japan use to make just a decade ago. Japanese cars today are like Milo tin can. Even their plactic feels so cheap. China on the other had has lower manufacturing cost today compared to a decade ago because Africa, Middle east and Russia seels all their commodities at a cheaper price to China in bulk and in non-US dollar. Everyone is scared to deal with USA as their assets can be stolen or sanctioned by Washington anytime. Safer to deal with China. Jpan and Europe is finito. Habis

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
    • Hairy on Apr 21, 2024 at 8:44 pm

      It’s all about drivability and not on styling and electronic gadgets only. We are talking about cars and it should be based on how it performs how well it drives, etc…and not only talk about 0-100 in seconds. In my opinion Japs are still miles ahead in this engineering .

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3
      • Have you test drive between GAC GS3? You wouldn’t know that GAC GS3 can be better and more comfortable than other rivals

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  • Lets See on Apr 19, 2024 at 5:50 pm

    But why do it in China? Their road and LHD car handling is totally different than here

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2
    • Pro-Palestine on Apr 20, 2024 at 9:07 am

      So stupid. RHD and LHD also a problem? Then why European cars? most are LHD there. You have low IQ. The suspension, brakes and chasis are all the same and that is the main thing that affects handling, not where the steering wheel is located. Perg bodoh

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3
    • opmanmy on Apr 20, 2024 at 3:57 pm

      Ya lo. Their roads are different. Malaysian roads are the “best” to test the car handling, suspension. Ekekeke.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
      • Have you seen how quality are their roads lately? They are putting Pakatan to shame in properly managing the country.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • hazri on Apr 19, 2024 at 9:25 pm

    the 3rd brake light…seriously? thats smaller than my viva

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2
  • Nice car

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • Azmie on Apr 20, 2024 at 4:18 am

    Price wrong. Too high.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • Note Pen on Apr 20, 2024 at 12:04 pm

    GAC-Toyota lagi best

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  • pengguna ploton kecewa on Apr 20, 2024 at 1:15 pm

    looks good. i guess the engine is way better in NVH in comparison witj Gelly’s 3 Cylinder. The looks is way better than Omoda’s looks. this can sell well if the after service can be trusted

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  • apa nama on Apr 20, 2024 at 2:37 pm

    why here selling so expensive while philippine sell much cheaper….kalo tak suka sini, pigi sana ?….haha

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  • Kinda looks like a Seat Cupra R.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Test driven GS3 Emzoom. But good power and more comfortable than those rivals

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • Rober Khoo on Apr 22, 2024 at 3:07 pm

    Good car buy wrong entering price in Malaysia market plus no marketing at all… just expecting people to make themselves know about this brand

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
    • Pro-Palestine on Apr 25, 2024 at 9:29 am

      Actually most car kaki know how bigh this GAC brand is and how good their cars are. No need marketting. Their target market are car fanatics and not noobs like you. Car fanatics are the best free marketing just by word of mouth when the car is out.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3
  • Yourmomgreen on Apr 26, 2024 at 9:18 pm

    Anyone, like normal citizen has test driven this? it seems like its reported lower drivetrain and 4cyl is better for nvh and handling. since its not tuned like x50, how does it fare on our roads?

    also if servicing is reliable, might as well change to this

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
 

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