2023 GAC Empow GB Review | Philkotse Philippines

Updated Jun 09, 2023

Editor's: 4.1/5
Buckled up for the challenge.
2023 GAC Empow GB Review | Philkotse Philippines

In this review...

  1. Introduction
  2. Exterior
  3. Interior
  4. Tech & Safety
  5. Engine & Performance
  6. Fuel Efficiency
  7. Verdict
  8. Variants & Price
  9. Color Options
  10. Specs

2023 GAC Empow GB Review: Introduction

Compact sporty-looking sedans are still being offered by some car brands in the Philippines despite the popularity of crossovers and seven-seater vehicles. The Honda Civic is one of the sedans that soldiers on in the local market – proof that the said vehicle type still has an appeal among Filipino car buyers.

GAC Motor Philippines’ new distributor Astara sees an opportunity in the compact sedan segment. It is among the car brands that want to capitalize on sedans with a sporty appeal as it ushered in the Empow. While the name is not as attractive for some, the Empow is a sedan that aims to challenge the Civic’s popularity in the local market. 

The question is, does it have what it takes to lure consumers that are on the lookout for a compact sedan with an athletic appeal? Here’s Philkotse’s 2023 GAC Empow GB full review. Of note, the Empow GB is the mid-spec trim. The top-of-the-line Empow GE variant was still not available during the duration of this test drive.  


GAC Empow 2024 Review

How we do our reviews
  • aesthetics

    Overall exterior & Interior design, build quality, form vs function

  • Safety & Technology

    Number of safety & tech features, consistency during usage

  • Performance

    Power delivery, acceleration, transmission, suspension, handling

  • Comfort & Practicality

    Overall Ride Comfort, Space, Storage Areas

  • Value for Money

    Sticker price vs overall package

2023 GAC Empow GB Exterior Review: Stealth and sleek

The GAC Empow GB is like a car that’s waiting to pounce. I find its exterior to have a laidback yet surefooted demeanor. I also see it as a car that’s confident of its looks and doesn’t try too hard in being a typical sporty sedan.

2023 GAC Empow GB front profile shotSurefooted demeanor

This is especially true when you view the Empow’s front end, which is dominated by a large grille. The vehicle’s stealthy demeanor is further emphasized by the sweptback LED headlights that are integrated with two separate vertical LED daytime running lights (DRLs). The DRLs add character to the Empow’s fascia as they look like a battle scar, which kind of reminds me of Mel Gibson in Braveheart or Travis Fimmel in the Vikings series. 

The Empow’s angular bumper adds a sculpted look to the vehicle’s overall fascia, giving it a sharp finish. I only wish that the flat light silver trim on the front end is finished in dark or maybe even Gunmetal Silver. They would have given the Empow a more aggressive fascia.  

2023 GAC Empow GB side shotIt has a simple yet distinctive side profile

GAC Motor’s sedan has a sleek side profile. It comes with straight character lines that give the Empow a clean look when viewed from the side. While it looks neat, it sort of has a pinch of similarity with the Lexus IS. It comes with a set of 17-inch two-tone alloy wheels along with power-adjustable side mirrors and subtle chrome trim. The Empow’s side profile is simple but it does give enough style points. 

2023 GAC Empow GB rear shotThe GAC Empow GB from the rear

The simplicity and sleekness continue to be seen at the Empow’s rear. It doesn’t come with a loud design, which I find appropriate and in line with its stealthy overall look. The said design approach is seen on the wraparound LED taillights, which are not too fancy yet complement the whole vehicle. It also has a bold bumper, adding muscle to the Empow. Although, I prefer to eliminate those faux exhaust vents seen on the lower bumper. Yes, they add a sporty touch but they’re not functional. 


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2023 GAC Empow GB Interior Review: No-nonsense approach

The Empow GB’s interior has a symmetrical dashboard layout. Simple-looking but it works as it makes the cabin clutter-free. GAC Motor also integrated materials that give the Empow a sporty feel. Placed throughout the cabin are carbon fiber-like trims, red stitching, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. 

2023 GAC Empow GB interior dashboardIt comes with a straightforward dashboard layout

The cabin’s simplicity gives you a no-nonsense approach. But despite that, the interior also offers a modern appeal due to the presence of the unified screen for the gauge cluster and the infotainment touchscreen. The unified screen does not only give the Empow GB a modern touch but it also makes the cabin have a straightforward layout. The reason for this is that most of the vehicle buttons and functions can be toggled via the touchscreen infotainment system. 

That said, I appreciate the fact that GAC Motor still preferred to have actual buttons for climate control just below the seamless aircon vents. They are also within the driver’s reach, which allows for easier and more convenient climate and aircon fan speed adjustment on the go. 

2023 GAC Empow GB aircon controlsQuick access to the vehicle's climate controls

I also find the center console’s positioning ergonomic. Its high placement yields quicker access to the gear lever, drive mode selector, volume adjustment, electronic parking brake, and auto brake hold – basically everything you need to access while you’re driving.

2023 GAC Empow GB storage compartment center consoleExtra storage space

The ergonomic positioning also results in having extra storage space beneath where you can stow away items like your wallet. You'll also find the USB ports and the 12-volt socket here, which could be a nifty space to hide charging cables away. This sedan also comes with a sunroof.

The leather seats offer good cushioning, and the driver is treated to a six-way power adjust. On the other hand, the aircon vents are seamlessly integrated into the dashboard. A piano black trim runs through the dash, surrounding the aircon vents.

2023 GAC Empow GB rear seatsGAC Empow's rear seats

Rear passengers are treated with good leg- and elbow-room. Up to three individuals can sit at the back but having two average-sized Filipino adults is ideal for maximum comfort. The rear passengers are treated with power windows and a USB port. Interestingly, there’s only a single aircon vent for rear passengers. 

2023 GAC Empow GB trunkSpacious cargo area

The GAC Empow’s cargo space can easily accommodate up to two weeks of grocery supply.

2023 GAC Empow GB Review: Tech & Safety

2023 GAC Empow GB steering wheelMultifunctional steering wheel

Dominating the Empow’s dashboard is the unified screen, which features the digital gauge cluster and the infotainment system. The cluster comes in seven inches and it relatively has a clear resolution. You can also choose from a number of options in regard to the gauge cluster’s interface.

2023 GAC Empow GB Apple CarPlayIt has Apple CarPlay

The system also has a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay. Sorry, there’s no Android Auto (at least when we tested the Empow GB). The touchscreen is responsive to the touch and it allows easy smartphone integration. A wireless Apple CarPlay feature would have been better but that’s just me asking a bit too much.   

2023 GAC Empow GB rear cameraRear camera with dynamic guidelines

The infotainment touchscreen transforms into a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines when you put the gear in reverse. The live feed is decent in the daytime but it gets a bit grainy at night, which is expected.

The 2023 GAC Empow GB also comes with an electronic parking brake with auto hold, a six-way powered driver seat, rain-sensing wipers, and keyless entry. In terms of safety features, the vehicle is equipped with six airbags, an anti-lock braking system with electronic brakeforce distribution, a hydraulic brake assist, a hill start control, and a tire pressure monitoring system. 

Even better, the Empow has advanced driver assist features such as adaptive cruise control, high beam assist, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and traffic jam assist. The inclusion of all the tech and safety features indicates GAC’s goal of providing top-dog features to customers – a nice touch in this day and age.

2023 GAC Empow GB Review: Engine & Performance

The GAC Empow GB is powered by a 1.5-liter turbo gasoline engine that delivers 174 hp and 270 Nm of torque. The engine is connected to a seven-speed wet dual-clutch automatic transmission.

2023 GAC Empow GB engine shotPowered by a 1.5-liter turbo gasoline engine

The Empow is within the same territory when it comes to power output as the Honda Civic. To put things in perspective, the Civic’s 1.5-liter turbo engine produces 176 hp and 240 Nm of torque. It is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The difference between horsepower is marginal but the Empow has 30 Nm more than the Civic, which is considerable in the compact sedan class and weight.

GAC’s compact sedan also comes with four drive modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. I opted to use the Comfort mode as it is the middle ground when it comes to engine response and overall driving feel.

At city drives, the Empow accelerated from a standstill with ease and power delivery was adequate. However, the drive gets a bit jarring at low gears. I happened to experience a hint of shift shock when the Empow is shifting from first to second gear. But, as the vehicle starts to gain speed, the drive or the transmission got smoother. 

2023 GAC Empow GB front profile shot Look at that grille

Another thing I noticed was that engine braking is relatively felt when you let go of the accelerator. It was not that bothersome, but it could get your attention when driving at slower speeds – say along EDSA. 

The steering wheel has a light characteristic with enough road feedback, which would play to your advantage if you plan to use the Empow as your daily driver in the urban jungle. Navigating your way through tight streets and making U-turns would not yield to giving your biceps a workout. 

For me, driving the Empow on the expressway was where it stood out the most. It was stable and planted when driven at highway speed. It can also overtake slower vehicles with good measure without putting much effort into the accelerator. The gears adjusted in a timely manner allowing you to overtake with confidence even when the Comfort drive mode was engaged.

2023 GAC Empow GB rear shotThe Empow's rear is simple yet confident

Switch to Sport will give you higher revs, yielding to a more performance-oriented drive. Then came the Sport+ drive mode, which I thought would give an even more boost. But, I found that it offers little to no difference at all when it came to driving feel. Although, there’s added info that was displayed on the touchscreen showing data on turbo, G force, etc. 

The addition of paddle shifters would have made the Empow GB an even more fun car to drive. But, as it is, I can’t complain much about what the vehicle offers when it comes to overall driving. Of note, paddle shifters are available in the top-spec GAC Empow GE trim.

2023 GAC Empow GB Review: Fuel Efficiency

The Empow returned 8.6 km/l when driven around the city at an average speed of 15 km/h. On the open highway, it posted 16.5 km/l at 90 km/h. 

The Empow’s fuel economy numbers were somewhat close to what the Honda Civic can do. When I tested the Civic S (which was the former entry-level trim), it posted 9 km/l in the city at an average speed of 20 km/h. The Japanese compact sedan then yielded 18 km/l on the open highway at 90 km/h. 

2023 GAC Empow GB Review: Verdict

It’s crystal clear that the Empow GB is taking aim at the Honda Civic. It’s not going to be a walk in the park though as the Civic has long been one of the popular cars in the Philippines. Moreover, the current Honda Civic available in the local market is likewise loaded with notable tech and safety features. 

2023 GAC Empow GB front profile shot2023 GAC Empow GB

But, the way I see it, the GAC Empow has the arsenal to challenge the Japanese sedan. Aside from that, it comes with an enticing price tag, Php 1,305,000. To further sweeten the deal, GAC Motor Philippines is offering the Empow GB with a Php 90,000 cash discount as of this writing. That said, you can drive home one at Php 1,215,000, which is a price undercut worth Php 368,000 compared to the Civic V Turbo with Honda Sensing.

2023 GAC Empow: Variants & Price

GAC Empow Variants & Price in the Philippines

GAC Empow GS

Php 1,135,000*

GAC Empow GB

Php 1,215,000*

GAC Empow GE

Php 1,348,000*

*Introductory prices

2023 GAC Empow: Color Options

GAC Empow Color Options

Elegant Black, Ivory White, Moonlight Gray, Matte Fighter Green

2023 GAC Empow GB: Specs





Empow GB

Body Type

Compact Sedan

Dimensions & Weight


4,700 mm


1,850 mm


1,432 mm


2,736 mm

Seating Capacity


Engine & Transmission



Fuel Type

Turbo Gasoline


1,497 cc


7-speed Wet Dual Clutch Automatic


174 hp @ 5,500 rpm


270 Nm @ 1,500-4,000 rpm


17-inch alloy wheels

LED headlights

LED daytime running lights

Auto Headlamps

Headlights Height Adjustment

Power Side Mirror with Turn Signal Indicators

Power Folding Side Mirrors

Rain Sensing Wipers


Manual Airconditioning

Air Filter (PM1)

Multifunctional Steering Wheel

Leather Seats

6-Way Power Adjustable Driver's Seat

Power Sunroof

Second Row Center Armrest

Multicolor Ambient Light

USB ports

Rear aircon vent

12V Power Outlet

Safety & Tech

Adaptive Cruise Control

Forward Collision Warning

Autonomous Emergency Braking

Lane Departure Warning

Lane Keep Assist

Traffic Jam Assist

7-inch digital gauge cluster

10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay

6 speakers


6 Airbags

Electronic Stability Program

Brake Assist

Hill-start Hold Control

Electronic Brakeforce Distribution

Anti-Lock Braking System

Electronic Parking Brake with Auto Hold

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Front & Rear Parking Sensor


Engine Immobilizer



MacPherson Independent


Multi-Link Beam






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