The Empow R looks raring to face off the Civic Type R

GAC Motor Philippines has been on a roll this year after it was officially relaunched under Astara Philippines earlier this January. Not only has the brand launched a wide array of vehicles like the Empow, GS3 Emzoom, Emkoo, and GS8 (including the 4WD version), but it was also able to reach its 1,000 sales milestone in the first 8 months of 2023 thanks largely to the GS3 Emzoom and GS8.

This serves as a testament to the brand being more aggressive in the market amidst the resurgence of the automotive market after several years of slowed sales. With GAC looking to break the 2,000 mark by year-end, they are now exploring to bring in new models to the country.

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While the automaker has yet to officially state what they plan to bring into the country, we were able to test some of their cars on a recent trip to the PRC. One of the vehicles we wish the brand brings to the country is the Empow R. Launched earlier this year at the 2023 Shanghai International Auto Show, this particular sedan serves as a souped-up version of the regular Empow and gets more than just an engine upgrade.

Starting with its looks, the Civic Type R fighter gets a more aggressive look thanks to a unique body kit. The front fascia gets a huge pair of side intakes that feed more air to the more powerful turbocharged engine. There’s also an R badge on the grille itself to remind everyone this is no ordinary Empow.

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The sides and rear are also busier thanks to a sportier bumper, chunkier side skirts, a rear spoiler that aids to provide more downforce, and stylish 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 5 tires that deliver extra grip. In case you haven’t noticed it too, the Empow R gets a bigger brake kit to shave off speed quicker.

While not officially revealed, it seems GAC was also busy upgrading its suspension as it now sits lower than a standard Empow. There also seems to be a new set of dampers and springs although we’ll have to confirm with GAC if it does have suspension upgrades.

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Inside the Empow R, it gets a redesigned fully digital instrument cluster that’s adorned with a sportier motif complete with black and red highlights/accents. It also gets a pair of sport bucket seats that have chunky side supports and bolstering that keep you planted to the seats. There are also neat touches of faux carbon fiber & metal accents, as well as a unique leather interior that’s different from a standard Empow.

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Under the hood of the Empow R is not a 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder. Instead, this version gets a more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that cranks out 265 PS and 400 Nm of torque. Mated to a sport-tuned 8-speed automatic gearbox driving the front wheels, GAC claims this sports sedan can rocket itself to 100 km/h from a standstill in 5.7 seconds. For an extra sportier driving experience, the transmission supports a sports mode and comes with steering wheel paddle shifters.

For now, there are no exact plans yet if they will be bringing the Empow R to the Philippine market. However, an anonymous source tipped us that if it ever arrives in the country, it will undercut other high-performance vehicles in the segment. While they did not exactly name its closest competitor, we’re fairly certain it’s being aimed at a certain hot hatch being sold by Honda Cars PH that bears the Type R branding.

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The Civic Type R has a price tag of nearly PHP 3.9 million and has a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that cranks out 320 PS and 420 Nm of torque. Don’t expect an automatic transmission on the Type R as it’s only available with a good ol’ 6-speed manual gearbox.

Do you think the Empow R sports sedan has what it takes to face off the Civic Type R despite having marginally less power & torque? And will the GAC be significantly more affordable than the Civic Type R should the company actually bring it here?