Car of the Week AutoDeal GAC Emkoo

It’s been a hot minute since we’ve been thoroughly impressed by GAC. The Empow made a huge impression on us thanks to its sporty handling and its powerful engine. The brand proved in the Empow that it knows how to make cars exciting and fun to drive. The sedan set the benchmark for what we want to see from GAC in its sportier offerings, but with the Emkoo now in the lineup, that excitement appears to be trickling into the more practical body styles in the GAC stable. 

Built on the bones and the know-how of the Empow, the Emkoo is expected to be an exciting crossover to watch and want in our market. The DNA of the Empow can be found in the name alone, but is there more to discover than just a name? Let’s take a closer look at the Emkoo and see what makes it so special by looking at its spec sheets and its styling. 

So what about that title, “The Reclaim to Fame?” In many ways, you can say that the Emkoo and the Empow are both models that are bringing about the renaissance of the GAC brand in the country. These new models are extremely memorable in terms of design and drive, even more so than the first wave of GAC products that entered the market a few years ago. Without a doubt, the brand has come a long way, so let’s dive into the details of the Emkoo and see what’s up. 

GAC’s been knocking out of the park recently with its latest models. Not to bash its older-generation products, but the other crossovers in the lineup felt like they were a bit plain, and frankly a little forgettable in terms of styling. It only took one generational jump, however, for GAC to completely drop our jaws. We just finished picking up our mandibles off the ground after experiencing the Empow, and now that the Emkoo was launched, it’s time for another round of all of that. 

Flush grille designs seem to be all the rage now. Electric cars are coming in designs that are sleeker than ever before, but traditional fuel-powered automobiles seem to still work well with the flush and seamless look. The Emkoo in particular looks amazingly futuristic for a car that is still powered by gasoline. You may say that the design creates a disconnect with the model’s powertrain, but we don’t think it’s a problem. If you can perceive this car as something futuristic and more advanced than its rivals, then the designers have done their job. Quite a number of car buyers were shocked to learn that it was all gas-powered, especially with regard to the turbine-style wheels done in a three-tone color. 

The futuristic theme continues with the color selection that GAC Philippines brought in for the model which are Moonlight Gray, Star Lake Green, Snow White, Elegant Black, and Superstar Silver. Star Lake Green is the standout color in the lineup, and it’s also the launch color that GAC Philippines and Global picked because of its unique hue and how it shows off the lines of the Emkoo, contrasting with the grille in a spectacular and unique fashion. 

If there is one thing that GAC has proven with its new crop of cars, in addition to presenting a driving experience that’s as exciting as ever, it’s that they also know how to produce quality interiors with premium trimmings, features, and amenities. GAC has come a long way in terms of design. This next-generation crossover looks and feels leagues ahead of what the company once provided with its legacy models. The Emkoo’s interior is related to the Empow in many ways, the chief of which is the design language of the interior. We’re getting hints of premium European from the interior, mixed in with some lavish leather and paired with some metallic trimmings that ties in with the futuristic look of the body. On the top-spec trim, there are also hints of playfulness as GAC has opted to go with cyan accents on the dashboard, and on the steering wheel in order to give it a nice pop of color so as to avoid looking so bland. For the less adventurous of us, there's an all-black option that will populate the entry-level variant in the lineup, however, there is also a light-toned interior for some of the saucier car buyers among us. 

With all the design and details, it’s hard to think about just how great the deal that you’re getting is in the Emkoo. See the seven-inch digital instrument cluster, spot the 10.1-inch infotainment screen, access the Apple CarPlay functionality with a cable, hear the sound come from the up to the six-speaker audio system, and finally drive into the sunset or wherever your heart desires. The Emkoo has just enough to satisfy even the techiest of car buyers, and on top of the “advanced basics” that the Emkoo offers, it also has an advanced driver safety assist system, which includes rear parking sensors, a rearview camera system, a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control with integrated cruise assist, traffic sign recognition, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, automatic emergency braking with vulnerable road users protection, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, high beam assist, and traffic jam assist. All of these features add up and turn the Emkoo into something more than just a pretty sight on the road with lavish amenities. In fact, we’ve covered so many of its main features already that we haven’t even gotten into the stuff that makes it go vroom. 

Mega Wave Power, but what is so “Mega” about it? For us, understanding the engine took a bit of a drive. Our first taste of Mega Wave Power was behind the wheel of a GAC Empow. So far, the powertrain is one of the more memorable turbocharged 1.5-liters we’ve tested, and the specs are potent for such a small-displacement motor. The Emkoo shares the same 1.5-liter that the Empow has, and its power and torque figures go as high as 177 hp and 270 Nm of torque, mated to a seven-speed wet dual-clutch transmission (DCT). 

Mega Wave Power is more than just a cool marketing term for GAC’s engines, it’s actually a combination of engine cooling, refinement, and power-efficient technologies coming together to create the high-output and high-efficiency motors that GAC puts in its newest crop of vehicles. In fact, after driving GAC's Mega Wave Power platform hard, and after getting tipped off about how good the cooling system is, we were taken aback by how we were still able to pop the hood and even rest a hand on top of the "Mega Wave Power" logo in the engine bay. Of course, the hotter bits are at the bottom, but the heat that radiated from the bay wasn't as bad as other cars to our surprise. 

2023 GAC Emkoo Engine

What the brand does to its motors is one thing, but what its cars can do with them is something of note. With GAC, sport, eco, and normal modes actually make a difference. Normal and Eco modes are good enough and standard for a lot of cars nowadays, but the sport mode unleashes the beast, so to speak. At least with regard to the pattern of GAC’s sport mode tuning, the Emkoo with the 1.5-liter engine makes a ton of torque, and it may surprise you when you put your foot on the floor. The torque will come in like a strong wave, and the engine pulls freely all the way up to highway speeds without missing a beat if the Empow's experience is similar to the Emkoo's. The difference with the Emkoo is that the engine will have to pull more weight, but we feel that it won't be a problem for the powerful 1.5-liter. 

Handling-wise? There’s more to see. GAC is planning to bring its Empow to the track, and that will reflect on the Emkoo as well. With the local GAC race team going out and proving its reliability and performance on track in an endurance race, no less. So what does that have to do with the Emkoo? Well, if you’re iffy about GAC’s motor, then just wait and see how the turbo will fare in a grueling eight-hour race. The motors in the Emkoo and the Empow are shared, and so are the platforms. Known as GPMA, or the Global Platform Modular Architecture platform, the Emkoo is also based on the same bones as the Empow, which can only mean that the Emkoo will also be carried by what GAC has planned. In essence, GAC will be testing its engineering chops in one of the most challenging environments the country has to offer, on the race track and for several hours straight, hopefully beating out other rivals in the class. We also expect quite a showing from the GAC team, but we're also expecting some of the sportiness from the Empow to be shared with the Emkoo, however possible that is. 

GAC Badge

We don’t want to jump the gun, but we feel that the GAC Emkoo has what it takes to make a dent in the crossover market. GAC is one brand to watch, and we feel that the Emkoo is going to be a hit, especially for those who are looking for a great deal. 

On that note, let’s talk price. With all of its amenities and furnishings, you will be forgiven for thinking that the Emkoo is priced high, but it’s not. In fact, you might get shocked to find out that the Emkoo starts at just P1,298,000 and tops out at P1,498,000. For the power, the performance, and the premium-ness that the Emkoo offers, it’s quite a treat and one car that we wouldn’t mind recommending to discerning buyers on a budget, a rare combination of traits that only a few other models in the country are able to achieve. 

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