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GAC GS4 at the Detroit Motor Show: The unknown SUV from China

Thom Cannell
GAC GS4 at the Detroit Motor Show
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A at the Detroit Motor Show 2015 stand apart the big manufacturer right next to the entrance to Cobo Hall three cars with a label that is not a shame, even for car fans, although the company produced 1.2 million vehicles in 2014. The company is called Ghuangzhou Automobile Group Co. Ltd. (GAC), their world premiere for the fair is called GS4.

The cars cannot yet be bought in the USA or Europe. But the Chinese manufacturer has joint ventures with major partners such as Honda, Toyota and the Fiat Chrysler Group (FAC) and is therefore quite routine when it comes to building cars.

Since 2010, they have also been building vehicles under their own label. According to the somewhat awkward company video, GAC employs 60,000 people worldwide, 4,000 of them in its own research and development department.

A car with an aquarium

It also has a concept car for the Detroit Motor Show put on its wheels, which at least comes up with the most unusual extra at the whole fair: an aquarium is installed between the back seats. According to an employee at the stand, it should illustrate that the Witstar, the name of the gullwing with swiveling seats, practically floats over the streets.

The fish are colorful, but not real. 'Of course they are made of plastic. Real ones would certainly not survive if the trade fair visitors fed them,' explains a GAC ​​employee with a laugh. And what is the round plate for on the roof? 'Radar,' explains the friendly man from the Middle Kingdom. 'About autonomous driving, eh?' I try to be funny too. 'Yes, yes!' says the employee, visibly glad that I know the English word for 'autonomous'. 'There are two cameras on the roof and one on the bumper.' Yes, of course, and I'm the emperor of ... But next door, another GAC employee is clarifying the problems with digitizing the Chinese road network.

GAC GS4 is somewhere between Kia Soul and Yeti

Maybe technological progress in China is more realistic than an aquarium in a car. The latest series GAC next door called GS4 makes a confidence-inspiring impression, even if it looks pretty good next to the Witstar. The GS4 is not out of the ordinary in terms of design. Well, matt gold metallic is not for everyone, but the question of whether you can get into the car is willingly answered in the affirmative.

The door handlesfeel suspiciously light and the smell in the interior is noticeably reminiscent of sharp glue. But the interior design and workmanship seem routine and the powerful selector lever is supposed to operate a contemporary dual clutch transmission with seven gears, assure the two GAC employees, who are now both standing in the opening of the driver's door and carefully following the interior inspection. The question 'How do you like it?' seems international for car people. At least it is written on both of their faces. Both answer questions: Mr. Zhang Kai translates. 'My English not good', says his boss apologetically.

GAC GS4 with turbo engines and 7-speed dual clutch transmission

Functions in the cockpit or electrical adjustment of the leather seats can of course not be tested - no electricity. And whether the promised turbo gasoline engines with direct injection and 1.3 or 1.5 liter displacement are located under the hood cannot be checked.

Performance data are missing on the data sheet, but the EU5 names it as an emissions standard. The units should either drive the front wheels or all four. GAC promises a multi-link construction on the rear axle and electric power steering for the front.

With the GS4 model, GAC wants to venture into export. If all goes well, it should start in 2015 after Russia, Europe and the USA should follow. What are the chances of success that are difficult to assess from the exhibition stand. Especially since all price forecasts are pure speculation. But the brand definitely has the potential for surprises. It doesn't have to be an autonomously driving aquarium at the market launch.

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