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December 11, 2023

2023 GAC GS3 Emzoom Vs Honda HR-V V Turbo

By now, you’d probably think the Honda HR-V is my favorite punching bag; after all, it was the subject of our first head-to-head comparo I did early in the year against the Hyundai Creta. And it was a comparo that, to say the least, produced an upset with the Creta 1.5 GLS Premium winning over the HR-V 1.5 S. Now, here’s my second comparo of the year, and this time the mid-grade HR-V V Turbo is going against an unlikely rival in the GAC GS3 Emzoom.

I know what you’re thinking: why pit these two against each other? The answer is simple. The HR-V, with its three-prong variant line-up was originally meant to compete in three highly competitive sub-genres of the compact crossover segment. Unfortunately, because of a hefty price increase Honda implemented early in the year, the HR-V V Turbo and the HR-V RS Turbo now occupy the same space with just a P 90,000 spread between them (P 1,649,000 versus P 1,739,000). This puts pressure on Honda for two reasons: one, because HR-V stocks have started to regularize right now and two, because competitors like the GAC GS3 Emzoom pretty much offer the same sort of package for a whole lot less cash (P 1,198,000).

Now, the question is: is it worth to fork out an additional P 451,000 for the Honda or does the GAC deliver the same sort of driving experience for a whole lot less dough? Read on.


The way Honda and GAC Motor approach their designs can’t be more polar opposites. With the HR-V, Honda has opted to pare back as much as they can when it comes to superfluous design elements. The result is a compact crossover that looks smaller visually, but is dimensionally close to its predecessor. The “hidden” rear door handles and hidden easter eggs aside, there’s nothing really arresting about the HR-V’s exterior aesthetic. Instead, it’s all about giving it simple lines and excellent body proportions. It’s a slow burn in terms of design which means you won’t be questioning its longevity any time soon.

On the other hand, the GS3 Emzoom is clearly designed for instant gratification. It’s the compact crossover for fuccbois and the TikTok generation. GAC puts their “Hi-tech Industrial Aesthetic” design to good use here by coming up with something that looks like nothing else on the road. The use of intersecting creases on every surface, be it on the front grille to the doors to the tailgate reduces its visual girth giving it a stance that’s more hot hatch than crossover. Then, add the intricately spoked matte-finished 19-inch wheels, electronically retracting door handles, and an exhaust that exits at the center of an exaggerated rear diffuser. It’s busy, fussy, bordering on the ugly design, but I like it because it takes risks. If only GAC didn’t forget to install a rear wiper…

Winner: GAC GS3 Emzoom


Their respective exterior treatments tell you exactly what do expect with these two compact crossovers the moment you set inside. Visually, the HR-V V Turbo’s interior looks dreary with just the diffuser air vents being the only real talking point. However, it’s built to last. This test drive unit, for example, has already done more than 20,000 kilometers and it feels every bit as solid. There’s some wear-and-tear on the genuine leather seats, but apart from that, there’s zero rattles or creaks here. Moreover, the moment you set your butt down on the driver’s seat, it occurs to you that Honda’s got the ergonomics right. The seating is higher compared to the GS3 Emzoom and this subjectively gives you better visibility heightening the sense of maneuverability and control especially in urban confines. If you have to spend an insane amount of time in traffic every single day, the HR-V is the one to be in.

On paper, the GS3 Emzoom is designed for a younger audience; instead, it ends up as being juvenile. Need to switch drive modes? It’s not done via any physical switch, but through the touchscreen. And once you manage to hit the right area of the laggy screen, it produces whooshing sounds along with a change in the gauge cluster layout and ambient lighting. Heck, you can switch over to a noiser exhaust. Need I say more? As tech-laden as this crossover is, you begin to think that instead of helping or easing the overall operation, it’s just tech done for tech’s sake. The seating position is lower, limiting the front and rear three-quarters visibility, and the pedal box doesn’t align well with the driver’s seat meaning your hips will always be canted to the right as you drive. It’s the little things that rob the GS3 Emzoom here. Build quality is high, but the materials used is mixed. There are some nice, plush plastics and synthetic leather dotting the cabin, but also some cheap bits too on the steering wheel and wiper/light stalks.

Winner: Honda HR-V V Turbo

Space and Practicality

Almost nothing separates the HR-V and GS3 Emzoom when it comes to interior space. There’s a lot of leg and shoulder room on both models, whether in the front or rear quarters. The HR-V does lose out a bit more in terms of head room, but for as long as you move the driver’s seat to the lowest position, I didn’t find any issue with it. However, those taller than my 170 cm height might want to do a fit check if you’re in the market for one. Storage options are solid, but not ground breaking with two open ledges, one on top of each other, in front of the shifter and a decent-sized glove- and arm rest storage boxes. At the back, the HR-V’s cargo room is still the final word in terms of flexibility. Neither crossover can fit a 28-inch (large-sized) suitcase without the rear seats being folded down, but at least on the HR-V, it collapses in a 60/40 split and even flips up when needed. A tonneau cover comes standard too.

The GS3 Emzoom doesn’t offer the same level of cargo flexibility which means it loses out big time on this particular occasion. The cargo hold is certainly enough for doing groceries or even the occasional weekend out-of-town trips, but don’t expect to play friendly for that airport run. Having said that, kudos to GAC for putting in some nice touches like extending a scratch-resistant black plastic lip to the cargo hold’s actual load line and putting in a power tailgate even if opening and closing it requires having to go through layers of menus in the infotainment screen. When it comes to knick-knacks, it may seem like it has the slight edge thanks to its clever two-tier transmission tunnel, among others. Unfortunately, actual usability doesn’t rate too high. It’s also the only one to offer wireless Apple CarPlay (even if it’s iffy) and a USB Type C port purely for charging.

Winner: Honda HR-V V Turbo

Performance and Fuel Economy

On paper, almost nothing separates the HR-V and the GS3 Emzoom. Both use a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with similar outputs: 174 horsepower and 270 Nm for the GAC and 177 horsepower and 240 Nm for the Honda. 0 to 100 km/h is done in 7.5 seconds for the GS3 Emzoom and about 8 seconds for the HR-V. But what these figures don’t tell you is how the Honda beats the GAC when it comes to mechanical polish and refinement.

Although CVTs are typically notorious for being fun-sapping gearboxes, in the case of the HR-V, it’s actually the one to have over the dual clutch automatic. The reason? Shift quality. In the GS3 Emzoom, the gearbox tends to get easily confused in stop-and-go traffic causing the entire vehicle to jerk and lurch especially if you’re not smooth enough on the throttle. Whereas, in the HR-V, the stepless transmission makes for smooth progress. It also helps keep the gearbox locked in peak rpm for the turbo to remain spooled (around 3,000 rpm) making for an effortless charge to highway speeds. The CVT also results in better fuel economy too. At similar average speeds, the Honda does 9.61 km/L while the GAC manages just 7.87 km/L. This is just perfect because the HR-V does have the smaller fuel tank between the two. On the flipside, the Honda L15B requires just 91 octane (Petron Xtra Unleaded’s already fine) to the GAC 1.5 Megawave’s 92 octane minimum. Since 92 octane gas isn’t available locally, you have little choice but to go up to 95 octane such as Petron XCS.

The story’s the same when it comes to suspension tuning. Neither is a beacon of enthusiast-centric handling, but it’s the HR-V that gains an edge when it comes to steering precision. It also feels slightly more secure when being pushed around even if the 17-inch Goodyear tires on the Honda pale in comparison to the grippy 19-inch Michelin tires on the GS3 Emzoom. It’s also the HR-V that remains unperturbed by Manila’s badly pockmarked roads. There’s just more consistency to the way it absorbs cracks and ruts throughout the entirety of the suspension stroke, compared to the GS3 Emzoom which tends to crashy as the shocks start to rebound.

Winner: Honda HR-V V Turbo

Value for Money

Ah. Now here’s the kicker. With a P 451,000 price gap between them, the HR-V already loses out even before you start drilling down on the standard features. Both receive ADAS or advanced driver assist as standard, but the GS3 Emzoom offers much, much more. The HR-V has been dealt by a big blow no matter how you look at it. The GAC has the advantage when it comes to wheels (19s versus 17s), tailgate (powered versus manual), seat adjustment (electronic versus manual, infotainment screen (10.25-inch versus 8-inch), airbags (six versus four), and cameras (360-degree versus rear). The GS3 Emzoom is also the only one of the two to have a panoramic sunroof, rear parking camera, and tire pressure monitoring.

Winner: GAC GS3 Emzoom


The Honda HR-V wins in this comparo, but I’d be placing a big asterisk here. The HR-V wins simply because I personally wouldn’t trade driving refinement and driver comfort over aesthetics and tech toys. But there lies the kicker. The HR-V’s advantage lies mainly in its mechanical refinement and that’s something that only a handful of people would probably appreciate or care about. For the majority, they’d probably look at the price difference between the GS3 Emzoom and the HR-V and immediately conclude that they’d simply put the P 451,000 difference to work elsewhere. This could be put to use in things like maintenance cost, fuel bills, insurance fees, or even additional accessories.

At its P 1,598,000 introductory price tag, the HR-V V Turbo was barely palatable, but now that it’s at the P 1.65-million mark, Honda has just priced themselves out of market. It’s for this very reason that well-priced, well-featured Chinese crossovers like the GS3 Emzoom have proven to be successful. Despite its lack of mechanical polish, its feature-laden approach has made it a purchase consideration to a lot of Filipinos.

Winner: Honda HR-V V Turbo*

2023 GAC GS3 Emzoom vs 2023 Honda HR-V

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Bottom Line 2023 GAC GS3 Emzoom 1.5T R-Style 2023 Honda HR-V 1.5 V Turbo Honda SENSING
Pros Head-turning style, nicely speced for the price. Balanced performance, impeccable cargo flexibility.
Cons Ergonomics, jerky transmission, inconsistent ride/handling. Bland exterior/interior, pricey.
TL;DR A worthy look if you can forgive the lack of mechanical polish. Gets the mechanical bits right, but lacks in overall packaging.
Year Introduced 2023 2022
Warranty 5 years / 150,000 kilometers 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type Compact Crossover Compact Crossover
Seating 5 5
Engine / Drive F/F F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5 1.5
Aspiration Turbocharged Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders Inline-4 Inline-4
BHP @ rpm 174 @ 5,500 177 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 270 @ 1,400-4,500 240 @ 1,700-4,500
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / ~92 Gasoline / ~91
Transmission 7 DCT CVT
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive Yes, Adaptive
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 7.87 km/L @ 15 km/h,
9.52 km/L @ 20 km/h
(fueled with Petron XCS)
9.61 km/L @ 17 km/h
(fueled with Petron XCS)
Fuel Tank Size (L) 47 40
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,446 4,385
Width (mm) 1,850 1,790
Height (mm) 1,600 1,590
Wheelbase (mm) 2,650 2,610
Curb Weight (kg) 1,415 1,363
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Torsion Beam Axle Torsion Beam Axle
Front Brakes Vented Disc Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc Disc
Parking Brake Electric, w/ Auto Hold Electric, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Michelin Pilot Sport 4
235/45 R 19 Y (f & r)
Goodyear Assurance TripleMax 2
215/60 R 17 H (f &r)
Recommended Tire Pressure (PSI) 33 all 32 front / 30 rear
Wheels Alloy Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6 4
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear None
Parking Camera Yes, 360-degree Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelt 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelt 3-pt ELR x 3 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes Yes
Other Safety Features Automatic Emergency Braking
Lane Keep Assist
Lane Departure Warning
Traffic Sign Recognition
Collision Mitigation Braking System
Lane Keeping Assist System
Road Departure Mitigation
Lane Departure Warning
Lead Car Departure Notification
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, w/ High Beam Assist LED, w/ Auto High Beam
Fog Lamps Yes, Rear (LED) Yes, Front (LED)
Light Operation Auto On/Off Auto On/Off
Wiper Operation Rain-sensing Variable Intermittent
Tailgate Power Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather Leather
Seating Surface Synthetic Leather (PVC) Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) 6-way, Power 6-way, Manual
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) 4-way, Manual 4-way, Manual
2nd Row 60/40, Split-Fold, w/ Arm Rest 60/40, Split-Fold, w/ Arm Rest
3rd Row None None
Sunroof Yes None
Multi-Information Display / Size Yes, 7-inch TFT Yes, 7-inch TFT
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes Yes
Power Door Locks Yes Yes
Power Windows Yes Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Day/Night Auto-dimming
Proximity Key Yes Yes
Climate Control Auto, w/ Rear Vents Auto, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
USB Type A
USB Type C
USB Type A
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay (wireless)
Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6 6
Steering Controls Yes Yes


  1. I believe having bigger wheels(rims) may not always be advantageous especially when it comes to fuel efficiency.

    1. Going an inch bigger (HR-V RS) didn't seem to have any adverse effect.

      In fact, if I were getting an HR-V, I'd get the RS.

  2. For me whats matter most are the reliabily/durability of engine and transmission, add to that comfort/refinement. Priced difference would be offset later by the cost of maintenance due to reliability and durability issues, gas savings, and resale value. And finally honda prestige vs gac

  3. This is what I have always thought. The only reason why people are buying Chinese vehicles because they are cheaper. Otherwise, they are still inferior products.

  4. The difference in purchase price will easily be negated by their respective re-sale values. But, I agree the HRV RS is the best buy among the 3 variants.

    1. Resale value are crap.
      You dont buy a car because of resale value. Otherwise youre boxed to a brand you dont like. You buy a car bcoz its what your mind and heart wants..

    2. Dito lang talaga ako nakabasa ng mga tao na puro resale value iniisip sa pagbili ng sasakyan. Kaya nga bumibili sasakyan kasi kailangan or gusto, so gusto niyo bumili para ipagbili?

    3. If you will used your head/mind then im sure you will not buy that china crap.

    4. If youre a person with half the brain, you will understand value for money.

    5. Or waste of money for unreliable, not durable products

    6. People here are mostly gatekeepers with their beliefs stuck in the 1990's
      They still believe that modern Toyota and Honda vehicles on sale today are as reliable as the ones from the 1990's to 2010's but they forgot that CVT transmissions,hybrid batteries and turbocharged engines of modern Toyota and Honda vehicles won't last for 10 to 20 years and those very expensive parts needs to be replaced too.
      Resale value depends on the brand too as Subaru,Nissan and Suzuki vehicles got terrible resale values

    7. ^Agree.
      How sure are the other naysayers above that GAC is unreliable when it has proven itself by beating HONDAS, TOYOTAS, MAZDAS in our local 8 and 12hr endurance races for the past 5 years by being RELIABLE?

  5. GS3 Emzoom for me
    HRV in Turbo variants are overpriced

    1. Buy it and bang your head on the wall later. But its ok, its your money anyway.

    2. In short, you can't afford the HRV.

    3. How sure are you all that GAC is unreliable when it has proven itself by beating HONDAS, TOYOTAS, MAZDAS in our local 8 and 12hr endurance races for the past 5 years by being RELIABLE?

  6. Resale value and badge appeal are also huge things for the socially upward-looking pinoy motorist.

    And there is, of course, reliability, which remains a question even for a company that builds Toyotas and Hondas in China.

    1. Reliability to me is more an issue of ownership rather than the brand. No matter what brand you own if you dont take care of the car it will give you headaches down the road.

  7. My money I'd buy the Honda. For my company car I will choose the GAC because I must return it to the corp in 5 years. I'm scared to own a Chinese car after 5 years with parts and aftersales coming more into play.

  8. I don't really care about the length of the warranty. As typical Chinese cars sold here another company will handle the brand or the dealership will completely dissappear.

  9. Honda did their homework right with their CVT. Stepless shift with holding the engine rpm at its peak power band with the turbo always spooled makes huge difference in performance. Seen this firsthand on an open road with my forester xt.

  10. i saw the Emzoom displayed in a mall, it really is a looker. If this was a Honda or a Toyota, it would be a sure hit, probably with a long waiting list to boot.

    If only GAC has the same appeal as MG and Geely, sales figures would be different.


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