There's no other feeling in the world like being proven wrong. This review is actually a long time coming; while I have driven the Foton Gratour IM6 a few months back, I never got the chance to fully express how I felt about it. To this day, I still can't believe it whenever I think to myself: “I wish I could get the chance to drive it again.”
The Foton Gratour IM6 offers a tempting value proposition
If you’ve driven many cars as I have, there comes a time that it all comes together; you hop into one bearing preconceived notions, and you think you know what you'll be in for just by looking at the spec sheet. Not so with the IM6. We were invited to take a look at the car with this Foton Gratour IM6 2020 Philippines review here and let me tell you, I think Foton has a winner on their hands. Let me tell you the ways how.
2. Foton Gratour IM6 2020 Exterior
The 2020 Foton Gratour IM6 is a compact MPV, and it doesn’t pretend to be anything. In fact, it draws its design inspiration from more popular MPVs made by other brands. Mind you, it isn't a direct copy so much as a box being inspired by another box, and there is a myriad of ways you can go about it.
Typical of an MPV, the signature of 2020 Foton Gratour IM6 interior has significant height, the better to provide adequate headroom for occupants inside, but we’ll get to that later. The height is then offset by its rather aggressive and wide stance, while the wheels of the IM6 extend as far as they can into the corners, yet it still couldn't be called a van by any stretch.
The large chrome grille and Foton badge look intimidating from the front
From the front, you are greeted by the imposing chrome grille that's flanked by raked and sweeping headlamps, with a huge Foton badge right in the middle. I suppose projector-type headlights would be too much to ask, but the multi-reflector ones do the job.
The elongated foglamps recessed within the front bumper are interestingly shaped as well adding the 2020 Foton Gratour IM6s appeal. The side profile is devoid of any cladding or sharp lines, yet the monotony is broken by a subtle, sweeping character line that starts off from the bottom part of the rear door.
Speaking of doors, those on the IM6 are fairly easy to get in and out of, thanks their height and wide openings. At the back, you'll find horizontal tail lamps below the window line, while a chrome bar adds a little more panache to the proceedings.
The horizontal tail makes the IM6 standout
The design of the IM6 is really nothing to write home about; it's not out to ruffle any feathers to set the bar in terms of design, and those puny 15-inch alloys look overwhelmed by the vehicle's bulk, but I guess that's the point. I once saw this car displayed in MIAS 2019 sporting multi-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, and the negative offset instantly changed the look of the entire car. That is the very reason I love its design. It's practically a blank canvas, and you know what you could do with a blank canvas, right?
3. Foton Gratour IM6 2020 Review: Interior
Foton may have been a bit laid-back with the IM6's exterior design, but they sure burned the midnight oil with the interior. The biggest surprise of my drive was when I first opened the driver's side door and was greeted by what looks like leather material.
That’s right, Foton endowed the Foton Gratour IM6 2020 interior is full of leather material for all passengers, even as far back as the third row. I was impressed with the second-row captain seats, noting how comfortable they were. It almost made me jealous of my colleagues who were lounging around out back while I had to drive. Not that I can complain though, as the substantial leather-wrapped, three-spoke steering wheel was quite inviting, and the surprises didn’t stop there.
A nice, leather-wrapped steering wheel greets the driver
Admittedly, I was taken aback by all the hard plastic material on the dashboard and the door panels but then thought to myself that I wouldn’t be touching them anyway. However, soft-touch surfaces were also present, with leather and rubberized plastic on the door handles and the generous center console bin slash armrest; I wished my own car had a center console that big, as it can easily fit knick-knacks and other sundries.
The dashboard, despite the hard materials, was designed to look interesting with faux stitching and layered panels. One thing to note is the grab handles around the shifter, reminiscent of the Toyota FJ Cruiser, leading me to wonder if I should grab one o them for any reason at all.
At this price point, full leather seats are a welcome surprise
I could talk about the much-appreciated trip computer at the center of the Optitron gauges, complete with tachometer, fuel gauge, and temperature gauge. That last one is especially important as we live in a hot country, and you would want to ensure that the engine is running at optimal temperatures; many cars seem to be omitting the temp gauge of late, instead of settling for a single icon that only lights up when the engine temperature has become dangerously hot.
I could go on and on about all these things, but I haven’t even touched on the best part yet. Right above the automatic climate control system is a massive 10-inch touchscreen that enables you to control the IM6’s infotainment system. It doesn’t have Android Auto or Apple Carplay, but it does mirror your smartphone using a proprietary app, and it's easy to pair with as well.
The 10-inch touchscreen infotainment system is a revelation
At this price point, I was expecting the car to be at least on par with many of today’s compact MPVs, but being the best in class? My point goes to Foton.
4. Foton Gratour IM6 2020 Review: Engine and Performance
I put the Foton Gratour through its paces along the dreaded roads of C5, feeling that this was ideal as I got the chance to test the car’s 1.5-liter DAM 15D Dual VVT engine on stop-and-go traffic with quick pulls of acceleration. Happily, I can say that despite being fully loaded with six passengers, the engine was able to haul our collective weight without breaking a sweat.
It only makes 115 hp, but it's a capable hauler thanks to its 150 Nm of torque, with that kind of pulling power normally found in a larger displacement engine. It doesn’t love to rev much, as it begins to complain past 4,000 RPM, but you would rarely need to anyway as 75% of all the engine’s power is available to low in the powerband.
The 1.5-liter petrol engine is tuned for torque, making short work of trips laden with passengers
Front MacPherson struts and a five-link non-independent rear suspension enables the car to absorb road imperfections and potholes while keeping the occupants comfortable and cozy.
The 2020 Foton Gratour IM6 is only available with a 5-speed manual transmission, which I believe might put off some of its intended buyers, but for me, this is the best set up you can ask for. Given the stigma given to Chinese cars, opting for a manual transmission is your best bet as it is more durable and cheaper to replace if it breaks after years of ownership.
The standard, 5-speed manual transmission is precise, chuckable and puts the power down better than most established brands
My biggest complaint with cars these days is how little attention it is they give to their manual transmission systems. Not on the IM6; it feels like a Honda, is chuckable and precise, plus I never missed a gate throughout my drive, the precise clutch pedal allowing me to smoothly slot into each gear despite our test unit has probably seen better days.
I love to slam shift a manual, which is probably why my own car has seen multiple transmission replacements already, but I feel that the IM6 can take on that challenge. At 11 meters, the turning radius may be abysmal for a sports car, but acceptable for an MPV.
If you’re curious, fuel economy on the car is, in a word, superb. Laden with six people and slogging through stop-and-go traffic most of the time and on open roads letting it rip, we were still able to net 8 km/l. A feat in itself, considering our traffic-plagued times.
5. Foton Gratour IM6 2020 Safety Features
You would be forgiven for thinking that Foton would skimp on safety features to give way for that engine, the fit and finish relative to the price. Thankfully, the Foton Gratour IM6 still has got you covered. It has dual front airbags, ISOFIX anchors, backup sensors, four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution.
Wide-angle Back-up Cameras Aid you in tight parking spaces
That huge touchscreen also doubles as a monitor for the reverse camera. I was able to maneuver the car confidently and at speed, knowing that the brakes bite hard yet precisely. I really can’t find any fault with this car myself. Asking for driving assist features and frontal collision warning systems might be a pipe dream since it would definitely push the price beyond what the market might be willing to pay for a Chinese brand.
I never pine over the cars that I have taken out on a test drive, mostly because I am very happy with my current ride. Yet, the Foton Gratour IM6 is one big exception. Perhaps it's the fact that it can fit all my stuff as well as a horde of people in it, or maybe it's the capable engine and the precise transmission that has me swooning.
When I got into the car, I was pampered by the leather material and arctic automatic climate control, as well as being spoiled by the huge 10-inch screen. More importantly, there was a price. For the first time, I didn’t balk at the price of a vehicle that was as capable as the Foton Gratour IM6.
Honestly speaking, the 2020 Foton Gratour IM6 offers one of the best value propositions out there
As I drove it around I thought to myself, this is a very attainable car and I could probably drive home with it. It’s cheaper than most subcompact sedans, with the price pitting it against mini hatchbacks. Reading the YouTube comments on the car, there's still a lot of the apprehension over buying it just because it's made in China.
To be fair, that is a valid point and I honestly had that same concern. But there are hits and misses among more established brands too, and sometimes all it takes is a leap of faith. Chinese-made cars are here to stay, so give the Foton Gratour IM6 a test drive. Time to get that checkbook ready, as I am sure you will love it as I do when I am sharing in this Foton Gratour IM6 2020 review Philippines.
And now, stay tuned to Philkotse.com as we have so much in store for you in the coming weeks.