The Geely GC2 is a hi-speced hatchback based on the LC, a compact five-door the Chinese automaker introduced in 2009. Recognizable for its unique exterior design, which the company describes as "bionic" and resembles a panda bear up front, the GC2 has been launched in several markets around the world as of 2014, including South America, Indonesia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Three different engines are available with the GC2, all sourced from the LC, along with a choice of two transmissions, including a manual and an automatic. The GC2 is also famous for becoming China’s first locally developed compact car to be awarded a five-star safety rating. It is also was named the safest Chinese hatchback in 2011.

Although the GC2 has yet to reach U.S. shores, Geely’s plans to brings some of its models to North America makes the little hatch a possible candidate for U.S. showrooms. But is the GC2 good enough to go against similar products from Ford or Honda? And will it have what it takes to pass America’s challenging safety tests? Read on to find out the answers to these questions.

Click past the jump to read more about Geely GC2.

  • 2014 Geely GC2
  • Year:
    2014
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    5-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    76 @ 6000
  • Torque @ RPM:
    64 @ 3600
  • Displacement:
    1 L
  • 0-60 time:
    15 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    90 mph
  • Price:
    8400
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2014 Geely GC2 Exterior
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2014 Geely GC2 Exterior
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2014 Geely GC2 Exterior
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While the GC2 won’t win any beauty contest, I have to give the Chinese credit for coming up with a unique design

Much like most Chinese automakers, Geely has very few vehicles that can be considered appealing by design. While the GC2 won’t win any beauty contests, I have to give the Chinese credit for coming up with a unique design, which reminds me of the Japanese-built Kei cars, although it’s more of a compact hatch than a city car.

The front fascia is particularly responsible for GC2’s Kei-car likeness. The headlamps are incredibly large for a vehicle this size and extend quite a lot into the hood and the fenders. The front grille is also massive, occupying nearly half of the bumper. No wonder the GC2 is sold as the Panda in its home market. The fact that it sits lower in the apron helps with the Kei car looks. The bumper is nicely shaped around the grille with fog lamps on each side.

The rear end is rather subdued when compared to the front fascia, but the unique configuration of the taillights make the GC2 quite stylish. On the other hand, the profile of the hatch is quite plebeian, with discreet character lines and tiny wheels.

Exterior Dimensions

Length 3,598 MM (141.65 Inches)
Width 1,630 MM (64.17 Inches)
Height 1,465 MM (57.67 Inches)
Wheelbase 2,340 MM (92.12 Inches)
Wheel tread (front/rear) 1,420/1,410 MM (55.90/55.51 Inches)
Minimum ground clearance 121 MM (4.76 Inches)

Interior

2014 Geely GC2 Interior
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2014 Geely GC2 Interior
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2014 Geely GC2 Interior
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Although the cabin seems rather spartan, the design is modern and the two-tone upholstery makes it seem stylish and less cheap when compared to other Geely offerings

The GC2 is equally appealing on the inside. Although the cabin seems rather spartan, the design is modern and the two-tone upholstery makes it seem stylish and less cheap when compared to other Geely offerings. The center stack features a round design and a large silver surround, which provides a nice contrast with the dual-color dashboard, while the instrument panel comes with blue gauges.

In terms of convenience features, the GC2 is well-equipped for its segment, featuring amenities usually found in bigger and pricier models. Standard features include air conditioning, a four-speaker sound system with USB, remote central locking, electric windows and mirrors, rear door child safety locks, rear proximity sensors, and radio CD/MP3 player with USB. On the other hand, the GC2 has only two airbags, which is why this little hatch can only be sold in select markets in South America. In Asia and Africa, the GC2 comes with no airbags whatsoever.

Despite not being fitted with airbags, the GC2 received a five-star safety rating in China, making it the country’s first mini car to win that award. Guess this pretty much explains why Chinese cars aren’t able to pass NHTSA or IIHS safety tests.

Drivetrain

2014 Geely GC2 Exterior
- image 574093
The tiny GC2 is motivated by equally tiny engines

The tiny GC2 is motivated by equally tiny engines. The base model comes with a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder that delivers only 76 ponies and 64 pound-feet of torque. Linked to a five-speed manual gearbox, the three-banger enables the hatch to sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 15 seconds and up to a top speed of 90 mph.

A larger, 1.3-liter, four-cylinder unit sends 84 horsepower and 81 pound-feet to the wheels, but the extra oomph doesn’t change much as far as performance is concerned. 62 mph comes in 14 seconds, while top speed sits at 96 mph. This engine is available with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. With the latter, the 0-to-62 mph sprint drops from 14 to 16 seconds.

Lastly, there’s a 1.5-liter four-pot making the same amount of power and torque as the 1.3-liter, but mated exclusively to the four-speed autobox. With this combo, the GC2 needs 16 seconds to crawl from naught to 62 mph and continues its slow ascent to that 96-mph top speed limit.

Drivetrain/Specifications

Model GC2-1.0MT GC2-1.3MT GC2-1.3AT GC2-1.5AT
Engine model JL3G10A MR479Q MR479Q MR479Q
Output volume (liter) 0.997 1.342 1.342 1.498
Maximum power 76 HP @ 6,000 RPM 84 HP @ 6,000 RPM 84 HP @ 6,000 RPM 84 HP @ 6,000 RPM
Maximum torque 64 LB-FT @ 3,600 RPM 81 LB-FT @ 5,200 RPM 81 LB-FT @ 5,200 RPM 81 LB-FT @ 5,200 RPM
Transmission 5MT 5MT 4AT 4AT
Top Speed 145 km/h (90 mph) 155 km/h (96 mph) 155 km/h (96 mph) 155 km/h (96 mph)
0 - 100 km/h (62 mph) 15 seconds 14 seconds 16 seconds 16 seconds

Prices

2014 Geely GC2
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The Geely GC2 retails from the equivalent of $8,000 in various Asian and African markets. On the other hand, Geely’s Brazilian website lists it from R$11,236, which converts to around $11,000 as of 12/18/2014. The massive difference is due to the extra convenience and safety features added for South American markets Should this little hatch come to the U.S., Geely would have to keep pricing below the $10,000 mark to stand a chance given its current equipment list. Upgrading it is an option, but the Chinese automaker won’t see much success unless its keeps it cheaper than America’s most affordable new car, the Nissan Versa Sedan, which costs from $12,800 as of December 2014.

Competition

Ford Fiesta

2014 Ford Fiesta High Resolution Exterior
- image 518703

Should the Geely GC2 come to North America, it will have to compete against the Ford Fiesta, a hatch that’s been making huge waves since its redesigned iteration debuted for the 2014 model year. Highlighted by fresh styling cues that exude sportiness and an interior packed with many standard features and the latest safety technology. Additionally, the Fiesta is roomier and offers more luggage space than the GC2.

The German hatch is also a lot more powerful, although its engines aren’t bigger than those fitted in the Geely. First up is the popular 1.6-liter four-cylinder rated at 120 horsepower and 112 pound-feet of torque. Mated to either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, the four-banger is powerful enough to push the Fiesta from naught to 60 in 9.3 seconds. A smaller, turbocharged, 1.0-liter three-pot sends 123 ponies and 148 pound-feet to the front wheels, enabling the hatch to hit 60 mph in 8.8 seconds.

Pricing starts from $14,600 and goes into $18,000 territory with the range-topping Titanium trim.

Honda Fit

2015 Honda Fit High Resolution Exterior
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Japan’s fun and funky five-door hatch is brand-new for 2015, receiving a sleeker and more modern exterior than its predecessor. The new Fit is also features a roomier interior with more legroom and extra cargo space. The revised hatch comes with more standard equipment than ever and an options list that includes smart entry with push-button starter, Honda’s LaneWatch system and a seven-inch touchscreen for the audio system. The Japanese car also received leather seating, a first for the Fit.

The U.S.-spec Fit is available with only one engine, but the unit is powerful enough to put the Geely GC2 to shame. I’m talking about Honda’s 1.5-liter, i-VTEC four-cylinder that cranks out 130 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque. Granted, the four-banger isn’t the most powerful engine you can have in a small hatch, but it returns up to 41 mpg thanks to its reduced weight and updated internals. Customers can choose between a six-speed manual and a CVT for transmissions.

The 2015 Honda Fit retails from $15,525 and can fetch more than $20,800 when the range-topping EX-L model is selected.

Conclusion

2014 Geely GC2 Exterior
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From a design standpoint, the GC2 is definitely a breath of fresh air in Geely’s current lineup, which still includes awful copies of European-built cars. The hatch is also appealing as far as standard equipment goes. Should the GC2 come to North America, Geely would find it impossible to steal costumers from Ford or Honda with the current specs. But before the automaker can think about updating it to U.S. customer requirements, it needs to add more airbags and strengthen its chassis and body in order to pass those demanding safety tests.

  • Leave it
    • No airbags
    • Needs more powerful engines to become competitive
    • Lacks many standard features common in the U.S.
    • Not coming to North America anytime soon
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