Underrated: 2023 GAC EMKOO GL – Review

When it comes to mid-size crossovers/SUVs the market is filled to the brim, we have choices from almost all brands. However, when it comes to being affordable only a few of these mid-size tall cars can be had, and one of the more “affordable” options is the GAC EMKOO, which has seen its popularity sort of slip by the wayside.

I borrowed the top-of-the-line EMKOO GL to see if the customers are missing out, or if the shun is warranted.

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This is probably the most unique and polarizing thing about the EMKOO, the looks. It presents itself is quite a stark and shocking futuristic way, with angular lines and sharp edges complimented by some sculpted panels here and there. It really does seem like something designed by “E.T.” but in a good way.

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I won’t say it’s a beauty but it definitely isn’t unsightly, it has a presence that made people ask me what car it is. So if you’re into standing out while you drive then maybe the EMKOO’s looks could be a clincher.

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The futurism continues into the interior of the EMKOO, it has 2 decent-sized screens for the instrument cluster and the infotainment. The system does have Apple CarPlay connectivity but no Android Auto, but overall the features list is quite extensive. It has things like a 360-degree camera, a 6-speaker sound system, a big panoramic sunroof, and cooled plus heated seats.

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Interior quality is also quite good, with numerous soft-touch panels, plus the multi-colored tan, black, and silver panels add to the plushness of the EMKOO GL. Overall the interior is well equipped, very spacious, and built well.

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Engine and Safety

The GAC EMKOO uses the same powertrain system as the sporty EMPOW and EMZOOM. It has a 1.5-liter turbocharged gasoline engine with Megawave Power making 177 HP and 270 Nm of torque. Shifting is done via a 7-speed wet dual-clutch transmission.

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Safety-wise the EMKOO comes with features normally found in cars with higher price tags like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, emergency braking, and much more.

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Driving Impressions

I had the EMKOO for a better part of more than a week, and I have to say it’s during the drive that the GAC EMKOO makes and breaks its case. I found the city driving experience to be a mixed bag, the NVH levels are good, and it feels refined and quiet but the excitement of the powertrain sometimes made the experience jerky and uncomfortable.

I attribute it squarely to the transmission, for a wet-type dual-clutch it is very jerky in stop-and-go traffic. Pair that with an engine that’s eager to get a move on then you have some moments of uncomfortable driving. I must point out though that once the traffic clears the GAC EMKOO settles into a groove and suddenly it makes sense, the brisk pace allows you to keep up in traffic and easily pick up speed if needed without any fuss.

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Where the powertrain shines is the initial pull of speed, once the throttle is mashed. For something this big it really moves at a pretty decent rate of speed. I liked this duality of the car’s personality, it can be comfortable (enough) but also playful at the push of the pedal.

Steering and vehicle dynamics are sharp but somewhat numb, it turns in really well with the slightest of inputs at the wheel but it has almost no feedback regarding the road surface and what the tires are doing. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt something drive sporty but also not sporty at the same time.

Overall though as mentioned, the GAC EMKOO has its moments when it comes to driving, but It is a capable and more than decent daily driver.

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Points of Improvement

As I said earlier, the transmission can be too eager and jerky at times, hopefully in the succeeding models it can be tuned more properly towards comfort given the GAC EMKOO isn’t a performance car.

Fuel economy could be slightly better, in the city it would get 7-8 km/l, and the highway would go up as high as 11-12 km/l, not great for conscious fuel consumption drivers out there.

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Price and Verdict

At PHP 1,498,000 the GAC EMKOO slots in as a very affordable and well-equipped mid-size SUV/Crossover. I honestly could find nothing wrong with the EMKOO, something that would put people off causing the slow sales numbers. It’s got great size, great standard equipment, and a driving experience unmatched by most in its class, so what gives?

I think it has something to do with the segment itself, the EMZOOM is priced much much lower than the EMKOO but is a slightly smaller Crossover. With the EMKOO being more expensive and priced higher people who need the space are more inclined to spend on an MPV like the new M6 PRO because it has 2 additional seats more than the EMKOO.

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The market has left the GAC EMKOO in limbo, offering tremendous value for money but overlooked by the changing desires of the car-buying public.

Pablo Salapantan

Pablo Salapantan

Pablo's first word was probably "Car", and this has developed into a personal passion that has consumed his professional life as well.

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