What we experienced with the GAC Empow at BRC
When we got our first glimpse of the Empow back at the 2022 Manila International Auto Show, we knew GAC had a very interesting vehicle in its lineup.
Because as crossovers evolved and grew more popular, the sport compacts like the Empow had to keep up with the times. They grew in size, and they had more features, but unfortunately, some have lost that essence of sportiness that made them such fun cars to drive.
GAC wants to make an exception to that. They are out to show that there's nothing like driving a sport compact out on a track, and they did it by taking the Empow to the Batangas Racing Circuit.
There are not a lot of vehicles out there that come out of the showroom looking ready to pull up to the next car meet and attract lots of attention. That's what the Empow and its striking design are going for, especially with its Matte Fighter Green paint job and the contrasting yellow accents around the car.
The long and wide stance, along with the fastback silhouette gives off the impression that the Empow is raring to go out and perform. To top it all off, the quad exhaust tips provide the soundtrack you need to gun those hot laps on the track with a grin on your face, particularly when you activate “Loud” mode.
Inside the Empow, GAC has likewise given a striking motif with the light gray, piano black, and yellow trim pieces found on the seats, the steering wheel, and the seatbelts. They masterfully executed the cabin's sporty appeal along with plenty of interior features to boot.
The Empow has crisp graphics on its 7-inch instrument panel and its 10.25-inch infotainment monitor that transforms into a combined display of gauges showing the car's important engine stats when switched to Sport+ mode. Things like the turbo pressure, engine oil temps, oil pressure, water temps, and intake air temps are worth keeping an eye on when doing extended stints on the track, and the GAC Empow has got it covered.
Punchy power pack
The GAC Empow has a lot when it comes to show, but it also has the go. Powering the sedan is GAC's Megawave 1.5-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine with an air-to-water intercooler. It makes 177 PS and 270 Nm of torque which gives you plenty of punching power.
For better control of the gears and enhanced driver engagement during spirited driving, the GAC Empow's 7-speed wet-type dual-clutch transmission in the top-spec GE variant comes with paddle shifters. And when playtime is over, you can easily switch to the Eco and Comfort driving modes for a relaxing cruise going home.
Whether you're on the track or out on the road, it's always the power from the engine that gives you the rush, but the brakes on the other hand provide you with peace of mind. Thankfully, the GAC Empow has front and rear disc brakes as standard.
What's even more reassuring is that the Empow comes with anti-lock brakes and electric brakeforce distribution that works with the electronic stability program. On the wet braking test at BRC, the GAC Empow demonstrated that it remains stable whatever the condition of the road surface is.
The Batangas Racing Circuit proved to be the perfect playground for the GAC Empow to show its great handling characteristics, as the track layout consisted of elevation changes, banked corners, and long, sweeping turns.
As the GAC Empow went around BRC, the long wheelbase planted the car over the high-speed sweepers. Usually, a comfort-tuned suspension would mean lots of body roll and unresponsive handling, but the GAC Empow keeps its body composed while delivering agile handling, especially on the slalom course that was set up on the main straight.
Confidence in safety
Track driving means going past speeds you normally would not do on public roads – a task that could prove daunting to those who have little experience. But nevertheless, the GAC Empow comes with plenty of safety features to give you the confidence you need for the track, and also for everyday driving.
For the track, the traction control system progressively maximizes and evens out the car's grip, particularly in tricky weather conditions. For everyday driving, the GAC Empow comes with an advanced driving assistance system that detects & alerts drivers to potential dangers, maintains a safe distance from other vehicles, and can sometimes intervene to prevent accidents in certain scenarios.
Overall, the Empow is GAC's offering for those who seek the driving thrills of a sports sedan while enjoying a quality interior, sleek styling, innovative features, and engineering. All of those come at an appealing price point as the GAC Empow starts at PHP 1,225,000, while the top-spec GE variant sells for PHP 1,348,000.
You can experience it for yourself. Just visit any of GAC's dealerships to try out what the Empow has to offer.