The GAC GS4 235T: Crossing the Crossover Spectrum

The 235T monicker is the torque rating. Really.

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When the opportunity arose to test the GAC GS4 235T, it was kind of perplexing. I mean who makes a crossover variant just one step up from the GS3. Would anyone know the difference? These questions hounded the author, wondering if the new variant will satisfy our curiosity. We have to see this for ourselves.

Upon gazing at the GS4 235T for the first time, The exterior is similar to the GS3, most notably the wide chrome grille – a trademark of the GAC brand. Styling queues like the roof racks to the “floating D pillar”, makes the GS4 235T more elegant. There are no unwanted chrome trims or plastic cladding; just simple lines that accentuate the length of the body.

Although the chrome slat grille dominates the fascia, the multi-angled shape of the projector headlights adds sharp edges to an otherwise curvy front. The combination of the vertical DRLs and driving lights complete the sporty look.

The rear is equally sporty, with bigger LED taillights that extend to the sides. The lower portion of the bumper features reflectors, and the valance panel has faux skid plate and bezels that simulate dual exhausts. The overall look works.

Inside

It’s the interior that makes the difference. GAC intended the GS4 to be more generous than its smaller sibling. The front seats are comfortable, especially with the leg area. Giving the right amount of support. The rear seats are equally comfy with a more relaxed back angle. The rear seat of the GS4 235T can fit 3 passengers comfortably. The finish of the upholstery and door sidings is a combination of black and brown, not too flashy but pleasant to the eye.

GAC has a fascination with hexagon shaped openings, and it shows with the grille, center AC/entertainment trim, as well as the climate control buttons. The dash width is flowing, with the center angled towards the driver for easy readability and reach.

The shifter console is also driver-centric. The shifter and handbrake buttons are within arms reach. Aluminum trim and leatherette give the shifter a sophisticated flair. Under the AC controls are a pair of charger ports – a much needed option nowadays, although the location is a bit awkward, too deep inside the console.

The cargo hold is also generous, with space for bigger cargo or luggage. With the seat folded down, you could even fit a full-sized bicycle.

Oh, did we mention the power sunroof?

The Powertrain

The GAC GS4 235T has the 235T-1.5liter, turbocharged gas engine (Euro5) with a rating of 150hp and a torque rating of 235Nm.1450-4250rpm –quite impressive for its size. It’s equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission and transfers the power to the front wheels. Rolling stock are 215/55R18 mounted on 10-spoke alloys.

The Drive

While the creature comforts speak for themselves, it’s the performance that blew us away. The powertrain and kerb weight are perfect for each other, resulting in a very spirited performance. The GS4 235T is very responsive, either on acceleration or highway speeds. Although there is turbo lag, (which is acceptable in traffic), beyond 2500 rpm is just fun. The sweep to 4500rpm is very impressive for an engine that diminutive. The best part is the fuel economy. Even at 100kph/1900rpm, it still registered a frugal 14km/liter. The best so far we recorded was 16km/L at a slower but steady 80kph. City driving drops to a still respectable 11km/L.

Verdict

The GAC GS4 235T is actually a logical step up from the smaller GS3, which is ideal for bigger families that usually go on regular weekend trips. GAC designers have the typical Filipino family in mind. The GS4 235T gives that extra room that you need without sacrificing power or practicality. And it also has the oomph you need when you need it.

Another distinct advantage of the GS4 235T over other crossovers in its class is the smaller turning diameter, quite amazing for a Front-Wheel Drive. Those pesky U-turns are now easier to do now.

Driving in the city, especially during traffic, there is noticeable turbo lag, especially when accelerating from a standing start. But this can be practical during slower speeds as it eases off the line slower, great on fuel economy to. One issue that’s very noticeable is the hard disengaging of the electric park brake. There’s a bit of clunking sound.

Parking is made easier with the sensors and rear camera. Ingress/egress in the dark is also a charm, courtesy of the lower door illumination that casts the “G” logo on the pavement when you open the front doors.  One thing though, the side mirrors are not power optioned, so you have to fold them manually.

Sidebar:

Trumpchi (read as “chuanqi”) is an automotive marque owned by the Chinese automaker GAC Group. Trumpchi models have been available in China for since 2010 , and actually means “legend” in Chinese. No relation to the former president, in any case, GAC Group is ready to change the brand as soon as it enters the North American market.

Price as tested: PHP 1,189,000

Safety

  • Dual front and Curtain airbags
  • ABS with EBD
  • Electronic Stability Program
  • Hydraulic Brake Assist System
  • Hill Hold Control
  • ISOFIX

Features

  • Speed-sensing door locks
  • Cruise control
  • Parking Sensors
  • Reverse camera
  • Tire pressure monitoring system
  • Electronic parking brake
  • Brake Hold Function
  • Touchscreen infotainment system/Camera Monitor with Bluetooth, Auxiliary, and iPod connectivity

Legado Motors Inc. is the exclusive distributor of GAC Motor Company

Address: 1800 Ortigas Ave, Pasig, 1604 Metro Manila

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