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June 27, 2024

The GAC M6 Pro Changed The MPV Formula And It Worked (Kinda)

What comes into mind when you think of an MPV? For sure it will be a 7-seater, modern amenities for the front occupants, cabin comfort, and of course - a nice price. But when every offering in the segment has checked those boxes already, how else will you differentiate yourself?

The GAC M6 Pro approached the segment with a different take. It has a 1.5-liter turbo engine, captain seats as standard on the second row, Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) is available, and van-esque cargo space capability. But how does it all add up on the road?

GAC Philippines invited me over to take the M6 Pro from their showroom in Manila Bay to Pampanga and back in a single day. That’s not all. In R33 Drift Track in Pampanga, there will be a series of activities to test the MPV’s technical capability.

Driving the M6 Pro felt like I was driving a crossover. It has a smaller turning radius, nimble on the curves, almost no play on the steering wheel, and doesn’t have a problem hauling its big body (and four occupants, five if we consider my weight) thanks to its turbo engine that puts out 174 horsepower  and 270 Nm. The 7-speed DCT makes light work of sending all that power to the front wheels. The response especially during overtakes really hides the MPV aspect of this car and makes it seem like something else.

The drive part is further enhanced by the execution of the Advanced Driver Assist System. Its Adaptive Cruise Control is gentle on the recovery, unless you’re resuming your 100 km/h cruise from 60, in which case, it can get aggressive. It’s gentler on the recovery when the speed is only 10 to 15 km/h apart. There’s also the Lane Keeping System that isn’t as intrusive as the others; only there to guide you and not order you around. Best of all, the Automatic Emergency Braking seems to have been adapted to our country’s traffic situations. It’s not endlessly beeping from our bumper to bumper traffic and will only brake briefly (not full brake) when kamote riders cut us but are immediately gone.

As modern as the front section of the cabin is, GAC never overlooked the basics. The digital instrument cluster and infotainment touchscreen were housed under the dashboard to help lessen the glare during daytime (especially at noon). Tactile buttons were retained for the air controls, electronic parking brake, and drive mode; while the shifter is newbie-proof despite the high-tech design.

The real gem of this cabin though is its cushioning. The front seats felt like a couch, and more so the captain seats at the second row. It has just a thick base that even obese me didn’t have a sore rear-end after a long drive. There are also butterfly headrests for the captain seats so your head is in place even if you doze off. The same base was also done on the third row making it more comfortable than others in its class. You’ll never feel like an afterthought in the third row of the M6 Pro. Sure, it has a flat backrest but that’s the compromise to make it fold flat.

Speaking of flat, the M6 Pro can have a flat cargo area once you fold the third row. If the third row is up, you still have a sizable space that can fit two standard full-sized suitcases. It also helps that it has a low loading height to make loading things easier.

Once at the R33 Drift Track, a series of technical trials were thrown the M6 Pro’s way. There was a short course for handling, sprint and braking, navigation with the camera, wet linoleum test and even a moose test or changing lanes at the last second without braking.

As mentioned earlier, the GAC M6 Pro proved nimble for its size so it’s not surprising that it aced the handling test easily. What’s really surprising is GAC’s prowess in programming this MPV’s stability control. Usually a car spins out when you panic brake while doing a turn but in the M6 Pro, it just stopped as if it’s braking in a straight line. It was also great during the wet linoleum test where one side of the car is on the wet surface, the other on the dry road. The car didn’t panic one bit despite the different traction conditions, and  stopped like it would on a totally dry surface. It also limited the wheel spin even when you floor the throttle during on that wet linoleum.

What’s surprising is the moose test. It simulates panic steering as the instructor will have you speed up to 60 km/h and then steer on his command without braking. It simulates a condition where someone (or something) immediately stops in front of you, and you have to get out of the way at the last second. The M6 Pro was textbook perfect in handling it thanks again to the quick adjustments done by the stability control system. What’s more, it was just as good during wet conditions. Of note, results may vary depending on the real world road condition.

Despite its driving and technical capability, I always go back to the comfort in the M6 Pro. Not just creature comfort but basic, no-fatigue, long-drive-ready comfort of the seats. It’s seldom that an MPV can truly take me to places without me having body pains once I step out of the cabin. What’s more rare is that I slept on our way back to Manila Bay. Imagine sleeping from San Fernando Exit in NLEX, to the lengthy Skyway Stage 3, and waking up in GAC Manila Bay as if you’re just starting your day. It’s how comfortable I was in the M6 Pro.

I can’t give it any flowers yet since it remains to be seen if it’s truly fuel efficient. Although it must be noted that our highway run with some overtakes gave it a 15 km/L figure. Hopefully it’s just as good in the city even during rush hour traffic.

The GAC M6 Pro looked like a trying hard MPV when it was launched thanks to its turbocharged engine and captain seats even for the base model. Driving it though proved otherwise. Its feature set is no fluke, especially the comfort you’ll have with its seats and its technical capability in emergency situations. It certainly changed my perception of what MPVs can provide that I’m not going to be surprised if the GAC M6 Pro ends up as the next hit after the Emzoom.

Words and Photos by Vincent Villa.

1 comment:

  1. How does it go head to head with the Innova and Zenix?


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