Japanese may have stopped making high-performance road-going sedans as Mitsubishi no longer produces the Lancer Evolution and the Subaru STi, while still in production is never as impressive and in demand as it used to be, the segment is now seeing new contenders. After the Hyundai Elantra N from South Korea, the serious contender in the road-going high-performance sedans is emerging from China in the shape of GAC Empow.
The new GAC Empow R makes its premiere at the 2023 Auto Shanghai. And, like other models with an R suffix, it’s the high-performance version of the Empow sedan with a larger engine and a more aggressive appearance. The front fascia of the Empow R differs from the other Empow models in that it has two sizable side intakes and a trim that separates the two primary grilles. Naturally, GAC receives an R badge of its own.
The skirts are much chunkier than the standard Empow, while the rear bumper is busier and has a larger diffuser element. The wheels appear to be far larger than those on the top-spec GE, and GAC included a rear spoiler as an aerodynamic component to keep the Empow R stable at high speeds.
And it’s not just about the souped-up exterior appearance. On the inside, the full LCD instrument panel looks to contain racing-themed graphics and digital gauges that provide crucial engine data including turbo pressure, engine oil temperature, oil pressure, water temperature, and intake air temperatures. Plus there are dedicated light-weight sports bucket seats with bolsters and lumbar support and an R emblem imprinted on the headrests.
GAC Empow R
Under the hood, instead of an already powerful 1.5L turbo unit installed in previous Empow models, the new Empow R gets a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four cylinder engine that produces 265 hp of power and a whopping 400 Nm of torque. That’s nearly 100 hp & 130 Nm more than the 1.5L turbo unit. The new potent engine in the Empow R comes mated to a sport-tuned 8-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters. Like the standard model, the Empow R is expected to come with Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) functions.
Although there are no official performance claims, if the standard Empow can do the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in the 7-second range, there is a fair possibility the more powerful Empow R will do the same in the low 6-second region.
A computer animation professional with over 23 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations, TV channels & production facilities in Pakistan. An avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver quality content to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com