GAC Motor Philippines is one of those few Chinese brands that I am able to recommend to those looking for an affordable but still well-engineered car. The brand currently does not have the panache or the presence of Geely, but they still are one of those brands that don’t fall to the typical Chinese car stigma of offering so much value but without any sense of engineering. This is the all-new 2022 GAC GS4, and this is perhaps one of the most well-engineered Chinese cars I’ve ever driven.
From a styling standpoint, the second-generation GS4 doesn’t look too different from the previous model. Still, it looks thoroughly modern and fresh, and as a result, it now has an identity of its own due to its evolutionary redesign. The brand’s so-called ‘Flying Dynamics’ grille is larger than ever, but it’s not ostentatious by any means. This is then flanked by a pair of sleek full LED lights.
At the sides, the floating roof design is clearly evident, thanks to its blacked-out D-pillars. This is also the element that makes it look like a subcompact SUV. In reality, it’s as long, wide, and tall as a Honda CR-V or perhaps similarly-priced Chinese-build compacts like the Geely Azkarra and Ford Territory. If there’s one minor gripe for us, it would be its wheels. Not that they look bad, because they actually look sleek. It’s more of the fact that it looks a wee too small for our tastes.
Lastly, the rear fascia is also strikingly designed with its sleek LED taillights that are connected by a chrome strip on each end of the tailgate. There’s also a rear bumper with a silver skid plate with what looks like twin faux exhausts. Overall, the GAC GS4 looks striking enough and is one of the nicest Chinese crossover SUVs out there.
Step inside the 2022 GAC GS4, and full praises on how well finished the interior is. Apart from the Geely Coolray, the GS4 has one of the nicest interiors of any Chinese vehicle. It hits the fundamentals right, such as having tight panel gaps, solidly-built surfaces, and a generous serving of soft-touch materials. Even the color scheme is nice, plus the choice of materials for the center console buttons are excellent. While there’s a bit of smudge and scratch-prone piano black plastics, the frequently-touched places are finished in a more durable but patterned matte gray plastic.
Features And Infotainment
Priced at P1,098,000, this essentially makes it one of the most affordable compact SUVs out there. For perspective, its price is more in line with subcompact offerings such as the Geely Coolray and MG ZS. While it does have goodies like a panoramic sunroof, electronic parking brake, a smart entry (though it works not through a button or touchpad, but by approaching/leaving the vehicle) and push-button start system, soft and luscious leatherette upholstery, and an 8-inch touch screen, it still doesn’t quite match up to the smaller Geely Coolray’s feature content. Still, what it misses in terms of features more than makes up for fundamentally having one of the highest-quality interiors in any Chinese car.
Speaking of its 8-inch touch screen, it does look small in relation to its bezels, but it works intuitively enough and the graphics are sharp. It punches above the Coolray because of the fact that it’s a high-quality screen, meaning it does not wash out under harsh sunlight. Also, another advantage is the fact that it has Apple CarPlay, though tough luck to Android users as this does not have Android Auto. Amazingly, however, it has a very good sound system despite being the non-brand stuff like Bose or Harman Kardon.
Space And Practicality
Everywhere else, the 2022 GAC GS4 continues to excel. Chinese cars based on my experience tend to have an extremely spacious back seat, and this SUV is no exception. Because this is a size class higher than a similarly-priced Coolray, this practically feels like a limousine next to its Geely rival. There are even rear aircon vents and rear USB ports.
What it offers in terms of outright rear passenger space is the opposite in terms of trunk space. No official numbers have been provided yet, but the previous GS4 offered 450 liters. It’s definitely small for a compact crossover, as this figure is more reminiscent of a smaller Coolray or MG ZS. Still, for its price tag, the GS4’s sheer amount of rear-seat space is hard to ignore versus its similarly-priced subcompact rivals.
Powertrain And How It Drives
Powering the all-new 2022 GAC GS4 is an equally-new 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbo gasoline engine that produces 169 hp and 265 Nm of torque, which is 18 hp more and 30 Nm more than the previous model. This drives the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission manufactured by Japanese company Aisin.
Thanks to its more powerful engine, the GS4 is objectively much faster than its predecessor. Overtakes are done without any effort, and its engine is well-engineered for such a small displacement unit. My previous experience with the GS3 wasn’t all that good. It had plenty of lag when coming from a stop, but this time around, the turbo engine feels responsive, linear, and very tractable.
Not only that, but its 1.5-liter engine on its own isn’t dependent on the turbo’s boost. This means that it doesn’t suffer from the typical on-off switch feeling that small-displacement turbo engines are typically notorious for. In addition, the 6-speed automatic that it’s mated to is smooth, slick, and very responsive. It all means that combined with its supple suspension, rigid chassis, and sheer amount of sound deadening, the GS4 is an excellent long-distance cruiser.
The 2022 GAC GS4 feels stable, refined, and the driving experience is just so well engineered, the vehicle practically fades into the background. There’s a bit of wind whistle coming from the wing mirrors, but that’s about it. On the downside, its comfort-oriented nature means it’s not exactly what you would call sporty. The steering is light but devoid of any feedback, which means you can’t really tell what’s happening with the front wheels. Body roll is present when pushed hard in corners, but it’s nothing too dramatic. The tires, however, aren’t exactly grippy. It’s not that its OEM tires lack grip, but if you plan to treat the GS4 like a Geely Coolray or even a Mazda CX-3, then you’ll easily reach the tire’s limits of grip.
Still, that’s not what the GS4 was meant to do. Instead, it’s a well-engineered and supremely relaxing crossover SUV. When I traveled to Batangas City with this car, I felt relaxed upon arriving at my destination. GAC has done a good job on the car’s driving position and seats, as these are the best in any crossover SUV at its price point. Yes, that includes its more mainstream Japanese, American, and European rivals.
And that’s basically the appeal of the all-new 2022 GAC GS4. Sure, it does not have a long list of high-tech features to brag about, nor the sportiest handling, but there’s no denying that this is one of the best-engineered Chinese cars I’ve ever driven. Normally, I’d mention a few quirks when doing this review, but the GS4 practically has none, and that speaks volumes on how they’re developing their vehicles.
In short, the GAC GS4 does not have the longest list of standard features, but it sure hell drives a lot better than a lot of Chinese cars out there. And isn’t this the most important aspect when choosing a car in the first place? Because while having plenty of tech features is never a bad thing, these will eventually be outdated after just a couple of years. Excellent driving dynamics, on the other hand, don’t age, and that’s what makes the all-new 2022 GAC GS4 an outstanding crossover SUV. It’s not just good for a Chinese car. It’s simply a good car, regardless of what your perspective is.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★★
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★★
Overall: 4.5 out of 5
*Pricing is correct and accurate as of this article’s time of writing.