Published on July 21st, 2020 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
GAC GM8 Luxury MPV For Innova Money
Running With An Italian Engine
The GAC GM8 is a brand new attempt by a Chinese vehicle manufacturer to deliver a full sized MPV to rival the unstoppable Vellfire and Alphard in the Asian car market. Hugely popular with all segments, the Alphard and Wellfire starts with the affluent well to do family that can afford a luxury MPV and over the years filters down to a middle class family buying a 10-year-old unit for the same price as a brand new budget class segment car.
This segment has had some rivals like the Maxus G10 MPV and the Hyundai Grand Starex trying to catch the sales success, but they mostly end up with inter state tour operators and private companies looking for vehicle transport for their staff. Even Ford tried to ‘play’ in this segment with their Transit, but it was not luxurious enough to tickle new MPV buyers.
So, now comes the GAC GM8. Can it disrupt the used grey Alphard and Vellfire with its similar looks and luxurious interior appointments? Can it tempt real drivers with its Italian made engine? Well, lets see and let us explain in more detail.
For those unfamiliar with the Chinese auto industry, GAC stands for the Guangzhou Automobile Motor Corporation Limited. Launched in 2017 as the Trumpchi GM8, but is now sold under the GAC name due to political reasons, this Chinese seven seater people mover is an impressive MPV, even without mentioning the price. Impressive enough to even rock the MPV boat helmed by the ever popular Toyota Alphard/Vellfire.
The front end design of this Chinese people mover certainly is distinctive. A large front grille with horizontal chrome bars proudly shows of the logo shaped like a G symbolising GAC. Flanked by matrix LED headlights, the front end of this GM8 looks like a cross between Toyota Alphard and a Mercedes V-Class.
18 inch alloys and a floating roof design breaks up the plain side profile of the GM8. The rear end looks remarkably like the latest iteration of the Kia Grand Carnival, with the large rear light bar that is increasingly common on new cars nowadays. Real twin exhaust tips on a minivan is an interesting design statement though.
Dimension wise, the GAC GM8 is considerably larger than the Alphard. Consisting of the same 2-2-3 layout as in most luxury MPVs, the GM8 benefits from a larger third row and more boot space than it’s Japanese rival.
Second row passengers are treated to captains chairs. Although not as plush as the Japanese rivals, the seats are heated and cooled. A motorised ottoman and even a full body seat massager adds to the luxury ambience for the second row passengers.
Meanwhile up front, the dash design is reminiscent to the current generation Kia Grand Carnival. Leather and wood is prevalent, but that is to be expected in a luxury MPV. The GM8 also contains all the modern amenities that buyers expect from this type of car, like a 10.1 inch touchscreen infotainment display with voice command function, start-stop, a smart key and adjustable interior ambient lighting. Rear passengers are also treated to the dual panoramic sunroofs, twin power sliding doors and independent rear climate control.
Driving the front wheels of the GM8 is an Alfa Romeo sourced 2.0 litre four cylinder, with GAC’s own turbocharging system bolted on to it. Mated to a 6 speed automatic transmission, this 7 seater puts out 198 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. Sufficient power for most buyers in this segment.
The Alfa Romeo engine comes as no surprise, as underneath this minivan is the (extensively) modified underpinnings of an Alfa Romeo 166. And possibly thanks to the Alfa connection, reviews about the ride and handling of this large MPV is said to be above average in its class.
Already being sold in the Philippines and Indonesia for half the price of the Toyota Alphard, the GM8 was also going to be one of the vehicles in GAC’s line up to break into the US market with a partnership from FCA. Mind you, news of this US infiltration broke before the FCA-PSA merger so things may have changed since then.
If it is good enough for the Americans, it may be good enough for Malaysians too. The badge may be an issue though, seeing the tough time the Koreans had breaking into our notoriously conservative market. However, looking past the badge, the GM8 is good enough to tempt buyers away from the recon-king that is the Toyota Alphard/Vellfire.
Research and Text by Joshua Chin