This is the first time that GAC has come to test with us, so it’s worth getting to know this brand better. Despite the fact that outside the Celestial Empire it is not as well known as, say, Geely or GWM, in its homeland, GAK occupies a very good position. And the point here is not even that this company is state-owned, but that GAC has many joint projects with world-famous automakers such as Honda, Toyota, FCA, Mitsubishi, as well as several joint ventures with large Chinese brands. In the domestic market, by the way, the concern’s cars are sold under the Trumpchi brand, but after 2017 this name was changed in foreign markets. For what reasons – it’s easy to guess …
The company has complicated relations with the Russian market. Back in 2015, it was planned to launch the production of sedans and crossovers of the brand. However, a year later the idea was transformed into an attempt to launch the assembly of light commercial vehicles in the Leningrad Region, but things did not go beyond the plans. In 2019, the GAC seemed to be serious about entering our market. At the St. Petersburg International Motor Show, the company signed a memorandum of intent with eight major dealers. It was planned to attract a new audience, compete in Russia with the Haval brand and sell 50 thousand cars annually! Only four years later, Khaveil has a large plant in Tula and is one of the leaders in our market, and GAK is still in the same place where it started.
But with such a model range as in 2019, the GAC could quite easily become quite competitive in our market: the GS5 mid-size SUV would certainly be the locomotive of sales, the GS8 flagship crossover would resist the larger Koreans, and the GN8 minivan could easily finish off with Toyota Alphard due to half the price. And – yes, oddly enough, we still have in our hands the same version of the GS8 that was at that very exhibition and which was born seven years ago.
It would seem that looking at a large crossover from the mid-2010s should give a feeling of antiquity, but the details of the GS8 are so unusual that it detracts from its middle-aged appearance as a whole. The headlights that “float” onto the hood can hardly be called more functional than the standard ones, but they look so impressive that in the end they start to like it. The rear lights are visually enlarged so much that they seem like a bus. In general, formally the GS8 may be old, but the language does not turn to call its appearance boring. For this, by the way, we must thank the Chinese designer GAC, who worked for many years at Daimler Corporation.
In the cabin, at first it starts to ripple in the eyes from the abundance of buttons, but you quickly get used to their location and purpose
Once inside the crossover, retrogrades will experience real euphoria. If you (as, in fact, I) began to join the automotive culture since the cars of the 90s and “zero”, then, no doubt, you will feel a sense of pleasant nostalgia. Especially against the background of modern “Chinese”, in the salons of which there are almost no buttons and switches, and all control is sewn into a huge “tablet”. But if earlier it was a sign of manufacturability, now it’s just a banal economy, because analog controls are more expensive than the universal tablet interface.
GAC GS8 is not like that at all. At first, the interior starts to ripple in the eyes from the abundance of buttons, but you quickly get used to their location. In addition, as befits a modern car, the GS8 has a large “tablet” multimedia system. Something similar in interior was offered by premium German crossovers from the “zero”.
And, of course, massiveness blows from everything. In modern cars, they try to make the steering wheel smaller, lighter and thinner, and some manufacturers (for example, the French) even began to replace it with a small “saucer”. The GS8 defies trends with a chunky, button-laden steering wheel wrapped in rough but pleasant-to-the-touch leather. By the way, you really need a lot of buttons, since the crossover has a very rich equipment: there is a heated steering wheel and windshield, and a panoramic roof, and cruise control, and heated seats, and three-zone climate control, and a surround view system, and wireless charging (with a separate power button), and much more.
The all-wheel drive control system visually almost repeats the famous Terrain Response from Land Rover
The creators of the GS8 did not forget about safety either. In addition to front airbags, side airbags plus front and rear airbags are also offered, and in the “top” version, knee airbags for the driver and passenger are also offered. Pretty good equipment for a seven-year-old crossover! ..
The image from the all-round cameras is displayed on the screen of the multimedia system. If we consider its work from a practical point of view, then there are no complaints: the system copes with its duties quite well, there is even dynamic markup, but the picture quality leaves much to be desired.
Where most cars have a travel release button on the gear selector, the GS8 has a manual shift button.
The rear “sofa”, as befits a flagship, is very spacious and soft. Passengers did not receive special privileges, but acquired a separate climate control zone. But the third row in a car with a length of 4836 mm is by no means so favorable to riders. Only teenagers will be comfortable here, but for a relatively short trip, places on the “gallery” are quite suitable for adult passengers of non-grenadier height.
With the third row installed, there will be enough space in the trunk for a maximum of several packages from the store, but in the five-seat layout, the manufacturer promises 860 liters of free space. And if you fold all the chairs, you get a large compartment with a flat floor, which will please the most inveterate summer resident. Only a very slowly working electric drive of the tailgate will upset, the speed of which can strain, it seems, even a typical phlegmatic person.
The GAC GS8 is powered by a 2.0-liter petrol turbo engine, paired with the classic 6-speed Aisin automatic, which was born back in the mid-2000s and has been used on a huge number of cars from a wide variety of manufacturers. The engine with a dual variable valve timing system has been derated for Russia up to 190 hp. With. and 300 Nm. At home, the motor is capable of delivering 252 “horses”. But here, thanks to the distributed injection, it is able to work on inexpensive “92” gasoline. Which is doubly good, since we did not manage to achieve a “passport” consumption of 7 liters per 100 km – in fact, the GS8 did not consume less than 10 liters per “hundred” during the test.
The power pair chosen by the manufacturer allows the crossover to gain momentum without problems, but it is difficult to call it dynamic. Declared 9.4 seconds to “hundreds”, but in reality it is difficult to get out of 10 seconds. In part, this is hindered by a slight inhibition in the operation of the box. From the spot, from the move, pressing the pedal to the floor is always accompanied by a pause before the machine nevertheless executes the command. But it is convenient to manage the crossover. Despite the size and mannerisms of a large car, the GS8 steers predictably and well, allowing you to take corners at good speed.
Four-wheel drive was no less surprising, although in the initial versions of the GAC GS8 it can be front-wheel drive. Traction to the rear axle is fed through a BorgWarner multi-plate clutch. The weather allowed us to evaluate the operation of the system in snow and on ice, and here the four-wheel drive pleased with its speed, throwing the moment back almost without a pause and not allowing the car to dig into the snow; icy climbs are also given to her without problems. This is partly the merit of a well-tuned ESP, but this system also revealed a special look at what situations need to help the driver. For example, every time a speed bump passed, the ESP punctually signaled the operation…
What is the bottom line?
The GAC GS8 certainly has a strong point. In the people, this is called “a lot of cars for the invested ruble.” The manufacturer will offer the buyer a large roomy crossover with units from trusted manufacturers and very good equipment. For comparable money, you can choose, though more modern, but smaller and worse equipped “Chinese”. So those who are looking for a big car and are guided solely by pricing will definitely pay attention to the flagship GAC crossover.
It should be noted, however, that the GS8 is clearly aimed at conservatives complaining about modern machines with ubiquitous LCDs, touchpads and gesture controls. It is for them that the crossover can become an analog outlet in the world of the same type of digital interfaces. There are still many such consumers in Russia. And while they are, cars such as the GAC GS8 will be in demand.
We would like to thank the Stark-Auto Center (St. Petersburg, Kamchatskaya st., 7), the official dealer of GAC Motor, for the car provided for the test.