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2019 GAC Motor GS8: Fit for a Reigning Queen

“You’re in luck, sir”, chirped Shane Delgado, the lady PR specialist of Legado Motors, Inc. (LMI), the Philippine distributor of GAC Motor. “The vehicle you’re about to drive was ridden in by the current reigning Miss Universe, Catriona Gray. She was driven around by Mr. James Deakin.” “Ah, yes”, I thought to myself. “A reigning beauty queen gets driven around in a luxury SUV from an up-and-coming automotive brand by a popular influencer, who happens to be a colleague. What a wonderful way to start a test drive story.” And so it is.

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray at the backseat of our GS8. (Photo courtesy of LMI)

The vehicle that Shane was referring to is the 2019 GAC Motor GS8 sport utility vehicle (SUV). Mind you, the external dimensions of the GS8 may be that of a mid-sized SUV but the interior accommodations rival those of a full-size SUV. There are three rows of luxurious white leather seats to comfortably accommodate seven discerning occupants but the second row seats can slide back and provide a generous amount of legroom. As we said, it’s an SUV fit for royalty.

The view from Catriona’s throne, err… seat.

There’s a generous amount of legroom in the second row.

With the 2nd row all the way back, there’s still ample legroom in the 3rd row.

The queen can command her own climate at the backseat.

Cool air comes from above. LED courtesy lights add a touch of class.

There’s still room for some packages at the back.

Folding the 3rd row adds more space to carry royal belongings.

Folding the 2nd row adds even more room to carry the larger royal possessions.

Panoramic sunroof with power shade extends to the back.

Regal Bearing

Speaking of royalty, the Queen of England gets driven around in a Range Rover and the First Lady of the States gets driven in a Cadillac Escalade. Thus, it makes sense that the Queen of the Universe gets driven around in something that possesses similar regal traits. To that end, the GS8 does not disappoint. When we first saw it at its launch, we thought that it was as imposing as a top-of-the-line Toyota Land Cruiser V8 or its Lexus equivalent. Finished in deep glossy Piano Black and contrasted by tasteful chrome bits, the GS8 looks as elegant and as expensive as any Japanese, European and American luxury SUV.

The composite LED headlamps are a thing of beauty and purpose. They draw your eyes towards the imposing grille and the strong muscular front flanks. The headlamps and grille looks integrated, classic yet modern at the same time while the daytime running lights (DRLs) mimic the shape of the grille corners. Viewed from the side, the GS8 seems to stretch its body over the wheelbase to meet the conservatively-finished rear design, which was purposely upright and boxy to provide valuable headroom for the second- and third-row passengers. However, the rear lift gate is power actuated so its upright design is well justified. Overall, it’s fit for a queen to be seen being driven around in.

Power lift gate opens and closes at a touch of a button.

“To the Opera, James…” 

While the queen is enjoying the drive from the comfort of her backseat, the chauffeur (driver) and the body guard (front seat passenger) are likewise treated to the same luxury and opulence. The driver sits in a comfortable and ergonomic leather seat that is 8-way power adjustable with three memory settings. The driver’s seat automatically moves back when the engine is turned off and the driver’s door is opened to assist ingress and egress. A leather-wrapped four-spoke steering wheel, which turns an electric power steering (EPS) system, features multi-function remote controls for the infotainment system, mobile phone connectivity, cruise control, and digital instrument panel.

The driver’s seat is equally imposing.

The cockpit includes a 4-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel and a myriad of switches.

Driver’s seat has 3 memory settings.

The fit-and-finish is rich and elegant.

Soft leather-wrapped center armrest…

… hides a deep storage compartment with 4 drink holders.

The shift lever stirs the computer-controlled 6-speed automatic transmission, which has four 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; W for Winter mode for driving over snow or ice; and E for ECO Drive or economy mode where the shift points are optimized for maximum fuel efficiency. There’s a safety feature where the engine will not be over-revved when the transmission is in Manual mode. Below the shift quadrant is a round knob that controls its intelligent 4-wheel-drive (i4WD) settings – sand, mud, snow, and pavement (normal mode). We bet that not everyone will get to use, let alone appreciate, these features, since this luxury SUV will be used mainly to ferry its occupants on paved roads to luxury destinations.

Round knob selects intelligent 4-wheel-drive (i4WD) settings.

Pictograph display shows selected i4WD setting. Normal mode for everyday driving.

Sand: For driving Queen Nefertiti across the Sahara desert.

Snow: For driving the Ice Queen across frozen thundra.

Mud: For driving Miss Piggy, the queen of Sesame Street.

No Royal Headaches

The GS8 features an Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) system, which has an “Auto Hold” feature that offers additional braking security when the vehicle is in motion, especially during uphill and downhill driving. It augments the safety features of the electronic Hill Start and Hill Descent controls, which aids the driver handle and navigate the GS8 on a steep incline. Of course, the now-standard anti-lock braking system (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD), myriad number of airbags, and other passive and active safety systems ensure that the queen and, ahem, the other occupants of the vehicle, are always safe.

Everything at a touch of a button including Hill Descent and Traction Control.

Tachometer and speedometer flank the LCD information screen…

… that shows speed in digital form…

… the temperature outside…

… the overall performance of the GS8…

… its current performance…

… kilometers to empty…

… as well as the state of the battery.

There’s also the 3-zone electronic climate control system, which allows the driver, front passenger and backseat occupants to tailor-fit the temperature to their desired settings. A vastly entertaining infotainment system does exactly what it is designed to do: entertain the occupants of this luxury SUV. Meanwhile hidden and open cubby holes allow the occupants to store their drinks and valuables. Sadly, there’s no special place for the Queen’s scepter and crown. And speaking of entertainment, the GS8 has a neat party trick: With the transponder key in your pocket, the SUV unlocks its doors, unfolds its side mirrors, and gently sounds its horn as you approach it. And when you alight, it automatically locks the doors, fold the mirrors, and sounds off with a gentle toot as you walk away. No need to fiddle with any button.

The infotainment and aircon controls are intuitive to use.

10-inch touch screen displays the menu and desired function.

You can access AM/FM radio and music…

… or maps and navigation…

… or the 3-zone climate control system.

The screen become the rear camera monitor…

… or front camera monitor to make parking a breeze.

Turn signal activates the side camera that eliminates the blind spot on the left…

… or on the right when you signal to turn right.

Universal Appeal

As we mentioned in our write-up about the GA8 premium luxury sedan, Chinese automobiles are now almost in the same league as their Japanese, American or European counterparts. The GS8 is quite comparable to the Audi Q7, Lexus RX450, and to an extent, the Cadillac Escalade, minus the size, of course. Luxury features like rear overhead aircon vents, longer rear doors, ISOFix child safety anchors and side curtain airbags are no longer exclusive to the luxury brands. If only the Chinese manufacturer can do something about their “GAC Motors/Trumpchi” brand confusion, then the GS8 can be mentioned in the same breath as its exclusive luxury SUV contemporaries.

Turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder produces 320 Nm of torque.

Continental ContiSport Contact 245/55HR-19 tires wrap 15-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels.

“Trumpchi” branding on rear doors…

… and on door sills add some brand confusion.

But, truth be told, the GS8 is really fit to ferry a queen. It looks regal enough, it accelerates powerfully away, it drives comfortably and surefooted, and it pampers its occupants opulently. We appreciate its two-way power sunroof with jam protection, its expansive sky roof, its Smart Key and Start/Stop button, its one-touch power windows with jam-protection, its interior light time delay and automatic turn-off function, and those 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.

Courtesy lights project a “G” logo on the ground nearest the doors.

Since we don’t have a close-up shot of Catriona with the GS8, we asked our regal cat, Coco, to grace the backseat.

While our 2019 GAC Motor GS8 GL i4WD may not have all people gawking at it immediately, it already transported a reigning queen, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray, who’s someone to really gawk at, and it was driven by a chauffeur aptly named “James”, who must have done all the gawking. And once again, for the record: No, it is pronounced as “G.A.C.” not “gak”. It’s like B.M.W. or G.M.C. except that this car company has a vowel between two consonants. And yes, this car company is from China. But the quality is world-class and the appeal is more than global. It’s now universal, as in Miss Universe.

SPECIFICATIONS

Vehicle Type               :           Front-engine, AWD, 5-door SUV

Price                            :           P2,388,000.00

Engine                         :           2.0-liter inline-4 DOHC 16V turbocharged

Transmission               :           6-speed automatic with 3 driving modes and i4WD

Power                          :           [email protected]

Torque                         :           [email protected]

Wheelbase                   :           2800 mm

Length                         :           4810 mm

Width                          :           1910 mm

Height                         :           1770 mm

Curb Weight               :           1990 kg

Fuel Tank Capacity     :           66 liters

Front Suspension        :           Independent, McPherson type

Rear Suspension          :           Independent, Multi-link

Front Brakes               :           Ventilated discs

Rear Brakes                 :           Solid discs

Steering System          :           Electric Power Steering

Emissions Standards   :           Euro 5

Best Fuel Mileage       :           6.1 km/liter (as tested)

Ave. Fuel Mileage       :           5.9 km/liter (recorded)

 

CONTACT DETAILS

Legado Motors, Inc.

1800 Ortigas Avenue, Barangay Ugong, Pasig City, Metro Manila

Tel. No.: (02) 241-7387

Website: www.gacmotorph.com

Social Media: gacmotorph