GAC — Guangzhou Automobile Group — has been making cars with Fiat Chrysler for some time. Now, they want to make cars just for you, with the GS7 SUV appearing on American shores in 2019.
Chinese companies have been selling directly in Europe for some time, with limited success. There have been rumors for years of Chinese cars to sell in the United States, but so far none have shown up under their own name — a Chinese company did buy Volvo, and you can get Chinese-made Volvos and Buicks today, but GAC may be the first to sell under their own name.
GAC has a technology lab in California already, and plans to set up a development center in or near Detroit, and a design studio in Los Angeles. The company may sell through Fiat Chrysler outlets.
The GS7 is sold under the brand name Trumpchi, which bears no relation to the president of a similar name; the “p” is silent. Around a half million Trumpchis were sold last year, mainly in China. As for the GS7 itself, it’s a short-wheelbase version of their GS8, with a 2-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine and six-speed automatic; the all wheel drive system has a knob with settings for snow, trails, and sand, along with normal.
The second-generation engine is rated at 198 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque, though the SUV weighs nearly two tons; the company claims 0-62 mph comes in 9.5 seconds, which pegs it near the base Cherokee (which has two optional engines). The GS7 may be more responsive than sprint numbers suggest, with peak torque at 1,750 rpm. The interior is somewhat smaller than the Cherokee.
Inside, the GS7 seems fairly well and conventionally laid out, with a console shifter, tan leather seats, and a dingy gray dashboard brightened by chrome trim; there is also shiny black trim. The unusual plus-sized (10-inch) touch-screen is augmented by physical controls, and the rear seats are lifted a little to allow better vision for passengers.
There are four other GS-named SUVs and a lineup of cars to choose from, as well; which ones reach the United States is a mystery now. The company showed its high end GA8, GS8, and GM8 in Detroit.