Tue, 05 September 2023
Chinese automakers have been making a big splash in the Kingdom over the past few years, putting in the hard yards to earn a solid reputation for both quality and cost. One of the cars catching our attention with its recent launch was the GAC Emkoo. It was the size of a compact crossover, but priced far more competitively. The Emkoo’s design also promised a car that had both style and substance. Luckily, Bahrain This Month was granted the keys, so Kristian Harrison took it out for a spin.
GAC’s design language has undergone a revolution in recent years and the brand’s new EMKOO SUV is probably the boldest recipient of its self-proclaimed ‘diamond cut’ philosophy.
Opting for a frameless grille consisting of sharp thin lines assembled into a chevron pattern, the EMKOO carries plenty of outlandish style which is certain to draw eyes on the road. The EMKOO’s abundance of chiselled surfaces and particularly the front detailing, including daytime running lights that cut downwards and sideways and never exceed 2cm in width, is particularly aggressive and sets the tone for the rest of the car.
Looks are subjective and might split opinion, but I rather liked it. It’s bold, daring, and certainly not a car you will lose in a car park, either. I caught a few people casting envious sideways glances while stopped at traffic lights, and that’s all that any car aficionado wants, right?
The interior of the EMKOO SUV feels premium. The soft-touch panels breathe quality and the dashboard itself is an exercise in effective minimalism. There’s not much in the way of buttons, which is a good thing as it reduces clutter and the 14.6-inch infotainment touch screen is simple and informative as a gateway to all the features you’ll ever need.
I did wish, however, that the steering wheel pulled out further than its maximum. To drive comfortably and avoid having to straighten my arms, I had to compromise by sitting close to the wheel and thus cramp my leg room. Coupled with the high windowsills meaning that your left elbow doesn’t rest naturally on it, it could provide comfort issues for those like myself who are above six foot.
Powering the EMKOO is a 1.5-litre turbo engine, providing 177hp and 270Nm of torque. Shifting is courtesy of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Power delivery is smooth, albeit more with a gradual surge than one sudden sharp infusion. However, I did note that the throttle response is a touch on the sharp side, with small inputs translating into big lunges if you’re not careful.
When it comes to handling, the EMKOO excelled. It felt tight and sharp around the bends with not much of the way of roll. It inspired confidence around longer corners, whilst the steering provides strong feel and feedback for the tighter turns of Bahrain’s city roads.
Ultimately, the EMKOO has a lot going for it with those bold looks, a generous spec sheet and a healthy array of tech. Book your test drive at the Tas’heelat Automotive Company’s GAC Motor showroom in Sitra and try it out for yourself.
For more information, call 17 734-008.