What would you do if your heart says “Long Wheelbase Premium Luxury Sedan” (like the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS or Mercedes-Benz S-Class) but your wallet says “Premium Sedan” (like the Honda Accord, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima, or Toyota Camry)? What would you do if you want the luxury of a spacious backseat but your bank account won’t allow it? Would you compromise your dream to fit your budget?
Well, thankfully, now you don’t have to. That is, if you have an open mind.
Please allow us to show you around the new GA8 premium luxury sedan from GAC Motor of China. No, it is not pronounced as “gak”. It’s simply “G.A.C.”, like you would say B.M.W. or G.M.C. It just so happens that their company name has a vowel between two consonants. And yes, this car company is from China. But the quality is world-class and the appeal is global.
Rear Seat Love
Let’s start with the aforementioned long wheelbase: The GA8 has a 2,907-millimeter wheelbase. That’s longer than the Audi A4 (2820mm), BMW 3 Series (2811mm) or Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2832mm). The longer wheelbase minimizes the chassis vibration between the front and rear wheels as the car drives on undulated road surfaces. In the GA8, the longer wheelbase works in conjunction with the double wishbone independent front suspension, the five-link beam rear independent suspension, and meaty 225/55R17 Michelin Primacy 3 tires to produce a smooth, comfortable and refined ride. It’s like riding in a premium luxury sedan that costs four to five times more.
The longer wheelbase allows for more spacious rear legroom with increased seat padding, with creamy full-grain NAPPA leather seating surfaces in the case of the GA8, for improved comfort, as well as room for additional conveniences like rear air-conditioning vents, manual privacy curtains, and longer rear doors for easier ingress and egress. It also allows for a myriad list of safety features such as increased chassis rigidity, ISOFix child safety anchors, and side curtain airbags. And as you noticed, some of the European premium sedans that the GA8 was compared to offer similar features at higher prices. That’s not something to simply sneeze at.
Meant To Be Driven
The driver and front seat passenger are likewise treated to the same sumptuous creamy leather opulence as those in the backseat. In fact, the front occupants can adjust their bolstered power seats to their comfort with a flick of a switch and without compromising the legroom of the backseat passengers. Again, this is the advantage, and the luxury, of having a longer wheelbase.
However, the driver’s seat is the best place to be seated in, especially if driving is your passion. You sit in a comfortable and ergonomic leather seat with just the right amount of firmness and just the right size of side bolsters that will embrace you while cornering aggressively but will not hinder your entry or exit from the vehicle. The driver’s power seat is not only electronically adjustable in 8 ways including fore-and-aft, recline, seat height, and lumbar support, but the adjustments can also be stored in three memory settings, along with the side mirrors. The seat also automatically moves back and reclines a little when the engine is turned off and the driver’s door is opened to provide more space when entering or exiting the GA8. That’s a lot of luxury and convenience just in the driver’s seat alone.
Once seated, you face an ergonomically designed cockpit with all the controls within easy reach. You grip a nicely padded four-spoke steering wheel wrapped in soft leather with remote controls for the infotainment system, mobile phone connectivity, cruise control, and digital instrument panel. The steering wheel turns an electric power steering (EPS) system that features variable feedback and assistance at different speeds to provide better steering feel. At the center of the steering wheel is a Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) airbag that works with the pre-tensioned and “Limit Stress” seatbelts. Moreover, a soft chime and light reminds front passengers to buckle their seatbelts. Indeed, the engineers at GAC Motor designed the cockpit with the driver’s comfort, convenience and safety in mind.
Center of Convenience
The GA8’s center console houses several important controls and convenience features. The Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) system works like a manual parking brake when the vehicle is parked with the added convenience and ease of electronic engagement. The EPB system’s “Auto Hold” feature offers additional braking security when the vehicle is in motion, especially during uphill and downhill driving. The inconvenience of “hanging” while driving on a steep slope is now a thing of the past.
The ergonomic shift lever stirs the computer-controlled 6-speed automatic transmission, which has three driving modes: D for Drive mode or automatic shifting; M for Manual mode, if you want to shift the 6-speed A/T by yourself; and E for ECO Drive or economy mode where the shift points are optimized for maximum fuel efficiency. A safety feature ensures that the engine will not be overrevved when the transmission is in Manual mode. We preferred to use the ECO Drive mode when driving around traffic-choked Metro Manila, which gave us our best as-tested fuel mileage of 8.1 kilometers per liter.
Between the shifter and the controls for the 3-zone electronic climate control system is a neat convenience port covered by a spring-loaded simulated wood panel. Besides Bluetooth phone connectivity, there’s an HDMI port to plug in your device to the 10-inch touch-screen color display; a USB port and an AUX jack to play your music through the infotainment system and its 10-speaker system (4 mid-range speakers, 4 tweeters, and 2 rear speakers); and a 12-volt power socket to charge your devices.
Behind the shifter quadrant is another spring-loaded wood panel cover that opens up to reveal two cupholders that mimic the ones at the folding center armrest of the back seats. Meanwhile, underneath the front center armrest is a storage bin that is cooled by the A/C system. Very convenient for those who always love a sip of a cold drink while driving. We just hope that your favorite drink is non-alcoholic. Such attention-to-detail are hallmarks of a premium luxury brand.
Informative Features and Display
The large 10-inch touch-screen color display does more than inform the occupants of the functions of the infotainment system, which has AM/FM radio with preset stations, MP5 music player, mobile phone connectivity with hands-free communication, AVN dual navigation, and speed-sensing volume control. It also offers the convenience of viewing the surroundings through a wide angle 180-degree rear camera, a wide-angle front camera, and a 360-degree “Surround View” parking system. It’s such a nifty feature that it generates fun conversations among the first-time passengers of the GA8. Questions like “Where are all those cameras mounted?”, “How does it do that?”, and “Why isn’t my luxury car equipped with these features?” come into view. Overall, this feature makes parking the 5-meter long and 1.9-meter wide GA8 easier.
Sculptured and Powerful
Driving the GA8 around makes people do a double-take and some to squint their eyes. It fuels a lot of questions from passersby and other drivers: “What car is that?”, “Is that a new Audi or Lexus?”, and the common “How expensive is that thing you’re driving?” Surprisingly, despite being unrecognizable as a car brand, folks immediately recognize the GA8 as a luxury car. Perhaps, its Audi-like shape and its Lexus-like countenance provide some clues to its stellar identity. Similarly, the GA8’s quiet road manners, impressive acceleration and surprising gobs of torque hint on its agenda as a premium luxury sedan.
If we sound like we are smitten by the GA8, then you’re right. We are impressed with this Chinese-made long-wheelbase premium luxury sedan. Our only criticism revolves around GAC Motor’s global branding strategy, specifically the “Trumpchi” branding on the rear aircon vents and on the door scuff plates. We learned that GAC Motor is being marketed as Trumpchi in some European countries. We just find the name a bit funny especially when US President Donald Trump is coincidentally squeezing China for more tariffs. Perhaps, this is China’s way of getting back at Trump.
But make no mistake. We like the 2019 GAC Motor GA8. We like the way it looks, the way it accelerates, the way it drives, and the way it pampers its occupants. We even like its nifty touches like the two-way power sunroof with jam protection, the Smart Key and Start/Stop button, one-touch power windows with jam-protection, the interior light time delay and automatic turn-off function, and the four-wheel disc brakes. We particularly like the neat courtesy light that projects the stylized “G” logo on the ground to illuminate the area near the car’s front doors. It provides some form of entertainment when people try to guess where the light comes from. It is also a great conversation starter.
And if people start to talk to you about your car, then you can consider that as a luxury, which several hyper-expensive premium sedans do not provide due to their high-price snobbery. In today’s world, open-minded conversations are now fast becoming rare commodities.
Vehicle Type : Front-engine, FWD, 4-door sedan
Price : P2,288,000.00
Engine : 2.0-liter inline-4 DOHC 16V turbocharged
Transmission : 6-speed automatic with 3 driving modes
Power : 195hp@5200rpm
Torque : 300Nm@1600-4500rpm
Wheelbase : 2907 mm
Length : 5003 mm
Width : 1910 mm
Height : 1508 mm
Curb Weight : 1810 kg
Trunk Capacity : 500 liters
Fuel Tank Capacity : 70 liters
Front Suspension : Independent, double wishbone
Rear Suspension : Independent, five-link beam
Front Brakes : Ventilated discs
Rear Brakes : Solid discs
Steering System : Electric Power Steering
Emissions Standards : Euro 5
Best Fuel Mileage : 8.1 km/liter (as tested)
Ave. Fuel Mileage : 6.1 km/liter (recorded)
Legado Motors, Inc.
Metrowalk Commercial Complex, Meralco Avenue, Barangay Ugong, Pasig City, Metro Manila
Tel. No.: (02) 241-7387
Social Media: gacmotorph