Yes, there’s a hybrid variant of the GAC available in the PRC

Despite the unwavering popularity of crossovers, SUVs, and pickups in the Philippines, sedans still have a place in the Philippine market. Then there are sports sedans like the all-new Honda Civic and the GAC Empow that bring back the fun of driving compact cars in the 21st century.

With their 1.5-liter turbocharged engines, sleek and sporty styling, along with their agile handling, these types of sedans are proof that automakers can still make affordable and fun-to-drive four-doors. But with electrification becoming the norm, the sporty sedan also has to evolve with the world.

Could the GAC Empow Hybrid sell well in PH? image

On our recent trip to the PRC, we visited a local GAC dealership in Guangzhou. There, we were able to learn that that particular dealership sells around 2,000 units annually and has several models on offer. One of their most popular vehicles is the Empow. But unlike what the Philippine market gets, the Empow we saw there was a hybrid.

That’s right, there’s an electrified version of the Empow sports sedan on sale in China, and it’s actually more popular than the turbocharged version the PH market gets. According to a sales agent we talked to, the hybrid variant outsells the turbo version thanks to the tax breaks and benefits that come with buying an electrified vehicle. It's also quite popular with younger buyers, particularly those between early to mid-20s.

As for the vehicle itself, it does not have a 1.5-liter turbo under the hood. Instead, the Empow Hybrid gets a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle naturally-aspirated engine that’s assisted by a battery-powered electric motor.

Could the GAC Empow Hybrid sell well in PH? image

The engine alone makes a humble 140 PS with 180 Nm of torque. But with the electric motor providing additional power, the Empow Hybrid actually makes a total system output of 238 PS and 300 Nm of torque. Compared to the turbocharged Empow, the hybrid version generates 68 PS more along with 30 Nm of extra torque. Power is then sent to the front wheels via an e-CVT.

Even more impressive is the Empow’s ability to sprint from 0 - 100 km/h. According to GAC, the Empow Hybrid can reach 100 km/h from a standstill in just 3.4 seconds. In comparison, the turbocharged Empow can go from 0 - 100 km/h in 6.95 seconds.

Could the GAC Empow Hybrid sell well in PH? image

Despite having a hybrid powertrain, the Empow Hybrid comes with an almost similar level of features and cabin design as the turbocharged model. That means it gets the same dual-monitor layout on the dashboard which consists of a fully digital instrument panel and a touchscreen infotainment system. It also gets the same sporty leather steering wheel, faux carbon fiber trim pieces, contrast stitching, and leather upholstery.

Now for the important question, could this particular Empow actually work in the Philippines? An executive from GAC Motor asked us this question while we were in Guangzhou. With hybrids and EVs growing in popularity, the Empow Hybrid might make sense in the Philippines. However, since its engine is bigger than 1499cc, it will not meet the China-AFTA free trade which means it will be more expensive than the turbocharged version.

Should Astara Philippines decide to bring it here and be able to price it competitively, could the hybrid version of the Empow co-exist with the turbocharged model? Let us know in the comments.