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Friday, December 10, 2021

Review: 2022 GAC GS4 1.5T GDI


Chinese carmakers, being the new kids on the block, often rely on a simple playbook: offer lots of razzle-dazzle for not much money. That strategy, far and large, has worked. By equipping their vehicles with tons of tech, they’ve managed to make in-roads especially in segments where mechanical refinement isn’t usually the top-of-mind criteria.

But what if Chinese carmakers go the opposite route? What if, instead of countless doodads, they focused on the essentials of what makes a car good—things like refinement, comfort, and handling. Essentially, what you get is the all-new 2022 GAC GS4—a compact SUV that may be simple in features, but is simply good overall.



The GS4 looks well-proportioned with just the right number of curves and angles. The front and rear ends may come across as generic, but the execution, at least, isn’t over the top. LED is used on pretty much the entire exterior lighting, but designers resisted the temptation to put anything silly like dancing light patterns or sequential turn signals. On that note, the only critique here is the obvious absence of front fog lamps.

As with the GS8, the GS4’s exterior build quality is solid. The paint job is peerless, while the doors open with a nice, weighty feel to them; they also close with the same measure of authority. The tailgate though is hefty, and together with its awkward angle may entail extra effort to close shut for weaker individuals.



Weirdly enough, despite the push-button starter, the GS4 doesn’t have your typical smart keyless entry. By default, it requires its would-be owners to fumble through their pockets for the key fob to lock or unlock it. Going through the on-board menu, it can be programmed to lock and/or unlock automatically when the fob’s detected within a certain radius of the vehicle. But this feature isn’t 100 percent perfect, and could be tempting fate when parked in less-than-savory neighborhoods.

The odd key fob arrangement aside, the GS4’s interior is spot on. In terms of design, the same careful restraint found on the exterior is echoed inside. The predominantly black cabin, with just the right amount of aluminum trim, give it that sporty vibe. Fit and finish are upscale with soft-touch plastics covering just about every touch point. Again, kudos to the designers for foregoing the increasingly common floating tablet screen in favor of one that’s well-integrated into the dashboard. Interestingly, the tweeters aren’t at their usual location—at the base of the A-pillars. Instead, they’re the ones highlighted and surrounded by the bright work with the AC vents “hidden” just below it.



The infotainment screen itself, sized eight inches, is easy to use and navigate with its tile-based menus. That said, accessing the volume knob requires an adjustment to muscle reflexes since it’s a small knurled roller located to the left of the shifter. Back to the infotainment system, thankfully, there’s almost no “Chinglish” here. English is also the default language even after a factory reset. Oh, and yes, it’s got Apple CarPlay too.

Ergonomically, everything is spot on in the GS4. The thick-rimmed steering wheel offers an excellent amount of adjustment, while the jet-inspired shifter and the rest of the controls operate with a nice, crisp feel to it. The front seats, although forgoing any form of electric adjustment, molds the body excellently providing the right amount of support and comfort. A bonus is that the looks are great conversation starters too. Outward visibility at the front and sides can’t be criticized, although the thick quarter panels and small rear window does limit things at the back. Thankfully, rear parking sensors and a reverse camera come standard.



As far as compact SUVs go, the GS4 also scores high in terms of practicality. Not only does it have outstanding front passenger room, but it truly amazes at the back as well. The flat rear floor and generous seat width can easily accommodate three people side-by-side. The seat pinch is alright, but not having an adjustable recline feels like a wasted opportunity here. That omission aside, the rear’s got their own AC vents, charging ports, and adjustable headrests. Meanwhile, when it comes to cargo, the 470-liter hold is wide and deep on its own, but since the rear seats do collapse flat, it forms a whopping 1,560-liter of space.

Providing tractive effort is a tried-and-tested combination found in other Chinese offerings: a turbocharged 1.5-liter mated to an automatic transmission. What it lacks in on-paper differentiation, it makes up for in real-world execution.



Alone, the GS4’s mill produces healthy enough figures—168 horsepower and 265 Nm of torque, but what’s even better is its overall smoothness and refinement. It’s free from lag—a common problem with turbocharged engines. Power comes in steadily and builds up nicely, all while keeping itself whisper quiet. Meanwhile, the gearbox isn’t the usual CVT or dual clutch arrangement—it’s a conventional torque converter 6-speed Aisin unit. This lends it quick, shudder-free responses (it’s a bit too eager with downshifts though), and a surprisingly good 9.90 km/L figure in city traffic (average speed of 16 km/h).

Built on GAC Motor’s new Global Platform Modular Architecture or GPMA. 62 percent of the GS4’s body is built on high-strength steel. The strong shell, coupled with an independent suspension on both ends, gives it an uncanny ability to smoothen out the worst of Manila’s roads. Not only that, but it does so in an eerily quiet manner. Plus, the entire vehicle feels solid and sturdy, and that’s despite having what’s essentially a glass for a roof (there’s a 1.32-square meter panoramic sunroof up there). On the other hand, its relaxed nature doesn’t respond well to any hurried inputs. Despite its strong sense of stability, there’s copious amounts of body roll when pushed, and the brakes could use better bite, especially at the initial pedal stroke.



Previous to the 2022 GS4, critics often point out GAC Motor Philippines rather expensive positioning among its Chinese peers. Well, not this time. Priced at P 1.098-million, this is a compact SUV at conventional sub-compact sedan prices. Of course, something’s got to give, and that give is in the form of spec sheet worthy tech. It does have the basics nailed own such as all power amenities, leather-like (leatherette) steering wheel and seats, dual zone climate control with rear vents, and rear parking sensors with a reverse camera. It’s even got some surprising niceties like the panoramic sunroof, a kick-ass audio system, and cruise control. What it lacks would be things like powered seats, the full gamut of airbags (it only has four), automatic headlights, or even a moderately modern instrument cluster—the multi-function display is so pixel-starved, it feels like a 90’s throwback.

Despite the absence of these seemingly superfluous stuff, the GAC GS4 does manage to put a spotlight on what matters the most: on the engineering. More than anything, it proves that GAC Motor can build a car that’s more than just skin deep or balls deep in features. Instead, it relies on a solid foundation with a world-class powertrain and platform that can please even the most discerning car enthusiasts. Sure, there’s some push-and-pull when it comes to its price vis-à-vis its features, but after all’s said and done, it’s got a solid foundation that puts others on notice.

2022 GAC GS4 1.5T GDI

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Ownership 2022 GAC GS4 1.5T GDI
Year Introduced 2021
Vehicle Classification Compact SUV
Warranty 5 years / 150,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 168 @ 5,000
Nm @ rpm 265 @ 1,700-4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 93~
Transmission 6AT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 9.90 km/L @ 16 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,545
Width (mm) 1,856
Height (mm) 1,668
Wheelbase (mm) 2,680
Curb Weight (kg) 1,540
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Parking Brake Electric w/ Auto Hold
Tires Cooper Evolution CTT SUV 225/60R17 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 4
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Hill Descent Control
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Rear
Auto Lights No
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Tailgate Electric Release
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leatherette
Seating Adjustment (driver) 6-way, Manual
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) 4-way, Manual
Seating Surface Leatherette
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
Sunroof Yes
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Rear View Mirror Day/Night
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Auto, Dual w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
USB
Bluetooth
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes

4 comments:

  1. Sir Uly, I can see that you like the new GS4 (in general terms). I also just watched the AutoPh review in YouTube and the host also like the vehicle. I, in particular, am glad that GAC employed the 6-speed Aisin transmission (instead of CVT or DCT). I think the only impediment to the vehicle in our country is the limited number of dealerships. I guess GAC's current partnership with Toyota in China greatly contributed to its good build quality and driving dynamics.
    - Mark J.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are plans to expand their network soon. But they won't have the same footprint as other Chinese brands like Chery or GAC.

      Having said that, the GAC GS4's overall refinement is excellent. It doesn't handle as sharply as say a CX-5 or even a CR-V, but in terms of comfort and day-to-day use, it matches with the best of them.

      Delete
  2. Wow compact crossover with subcompact pricing (even cheaper than TOTL Coolray).

    Ive driven the GS3 and I liked its driving dynamics better than Coolray. Though tech-wise that Coolray is unbeatable value

    ReplyDelete

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