When the Chinese company Geely was preparing to overhaul its lineup, it decided it needed a new small hatch in the same market as the cute and bubbly Panda. What it created was the GC5. This five-door super-mini started life as the Englon SC5-RV but has now been moved to the new naming scheme. It brings modern European styling from Giugiaro and new technology to the brand. Geely also claims that the GC5 sets new benchmarks in safety for the brand with a five-star C-CNAP score and a four-star Euro-NCAP rating.

With a peppy, 1.5-liter engine inside its small frame, foldable seats for maximum storage and a plethora of LCD screens and airbags, the Geely GC5 has all the right ingredients to be a solid competitor in the city-car class. Still, machines like the Mini Cooper, Fiat 500 and the Nissan Versa all tackle different levels of price and size that could put a substantial damper on sales of this new Geely.

Can the new Chinese car make up ground in the sales race against the entrenched brands that already sell thousands of cars a month? Would the GC5 be a good fit for the U.S. market if Geely decided to start selling cars in North America? We have all the information you need to make a decision after the break.

Click past the jump to read more about the Geely GC5.

  • 2014 Geely GC5
  • Year:
    2014
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    5-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    92 @ 6000
  • Torque @ RPM:
    94 @ 3400
  • Displacement:
    1.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    18 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    102 mph
  • Price:
    12500 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2014 Geely GC5 Exterior
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2014 Geely GC5 Exterior
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2014 Geely GC5 Exterior
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The most interesting piece is the offset black trim pieces that flow down from the headlamps to the fog lights.

The outside of the GC5 is surprisingly attractive. Thanks to the design house Giugiaro, the shape is modern and handsome in the uniquely European way. From certain angles, the GC5 almost looks like something one of the French brands would have created. The nose is softly rounded with subtle but crisp lines that run down the hood, and the grille molds perfectly into the headlamps to create a continuous line around that wraps around towards the fenders. The most interesting piece is the offset black trim pieces that flow down from the headlamps to the fog lights. It is very visually dynamic and I like seeing it on a car that is this cheap.

The rear of the car is just as interesting as the nose, but not quite as pretty. A lot of angular shapes that are adjusted to canter toward the center of the car give the entire rear end a sort of soft “V” look. Geely smartly integrated some more large plastic trim pieces in the bumper to mimic the bit on the nose.

Down the profile you will notice heavily sculpted fender flares and some relatively deeply cut character lines.

Exterior Dimensions

Length 3,919 MM (154.29 Inches)
Width 1,745 MM (68.70 Inches)
Height 1,505 MM (59.25 Inches)
Wheelbase 2,461 MM (96.88 Inches)

Interior

2014 Geely GC5 Interior
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2014 Geely GC5 Interior
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2014 Geely GC5 Interior
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Ergonomically, the GC5 appears to be very well designed.

Inside Geely tried to stick to the modern Euro-chic theme with large, bold trim pieces, symmetrical controls and lots of interesting textures. The cloth front buckets look nicely shaped and appear to provide a decent level of lateral bolstering in both the seat back and bottom. Ergonomically, the GC5 appears to be very well designed. The center stack consists of three large knobs that run vertically down the center of the console. To each side, a small set of buttons and warning lights. Mounted high in the center is a large touchscreen to handle infotainment and sat-nav functions.

Surrounding this center stack is large trim that has a brushed-metallic look and the rest of the dash is textured to look like cloth, providing an extra bit of visual refinement to the cabin.

2014 Geely GC5 Interior
- image 573939

The rear seat is designed to hold three wide, but it not as well shaped or padded as the front buckets. Fold the seats down, and you have access to the large rear cargo area for maximum storage. The seats don’t fold completely flat, but do provide plenty of increased cargo capacity. At least in photos, legroom appears to be good for all seating positions.

Six airbags are standard in the cabin. Two front, to front-side and two full-cabin side-curtain airbags.

Drivetrain

2014 Geely GC5 Drivetrain
- image 573943

Under the GC5’s compact hood you will find a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that pumps out a modest 92 horsepower and 94 pound-feet of torque. This engine comes mated exclusively to Geely’s S160G five-speed manual transmission. There are no 0-to-60 acceleration figures, but Geely does reveal that the GC5 should be good for 102 mph at the top end. The power level may seem low, but it is close to the 100 horsepower of the Mazda2 and the 101 ponies of the Fiat 500.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type 1.5L DOHC 16-valve MR479QA engine
Maximum power 92 HP @ 6,000 RPM
Maximum torque 94 LB-FT @ 3,400 RPM
Transmission S160G five-speed manual gearbox
Top Speed 165 km/h (102 mph)

Prices

2014 Geely GC5 Exterior
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As a Chinese car with limited availability in external markets, it is hard to nail down a potential price for a version if should ever come to North America. Considering the cost of this car in other markets, coupled with traditional pricing trends of new cars entering the market, it is expected that a Geely GC5 for American consumption would start in the $12,000 range for a base model and move up from there.

Competition

Mazda Mazda2

2016 Mazda2 High Resolution Exterior
- image 560795

The tiny Mazda2 has been the fun and sporty king of the microcar segment here in the U.S. It may only have 100 horsepower, but with a minimum weight and smartly tuned handling, the Mazda2 has been turning miles into smiles since its debut in 2010. With a starting price of just $14,720 the Mazda2 is one of the cheapest cars you can buy in the U.S. today, but with its five doors, larger-than-expected interior volume and cute looks, it provides more value than its MSRP would suggest.

If there was a car that the GC5 needed to beat to be taken seriously, it is this pocket-sized Mazda. Unfortunately for Geely, the Mazda 2 is getting a new-generation car soon that will increase its performance, style and equipment. That will make it hard for the GC5 to find buyers.

Fiat 500

2015 Fiat 500 Exterior
- image 547931

The Fiat 500 competes directly with the GC5 on size, horsepower, and drivetrain configuration, but it is in a league of its own in regards to style. The tiny Italian hatch has been stealing the hearts of the fashion conscious consumer for a few years now, and it doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon. With a classic look that capitalizes on nostalgia, the Fiat is a visual treat for anyone who spies it on the road.

That fun Italian style and heritage doesn’t come cheap though. With a base price of $17,145 the Fiat is far more expensive than the Mazda or the Geely. It does come standard with more safety features and equipment than either of the other two cars here, but it is debatable if those extras are worth the cost. The real feather in the Fiat’s cap is the availability of multiple engines. If you have the extra cash to spend, you can option up to the Fiat 500 Turbo or Abarth versions for extra power and speed.

Conclusion

2014 Geely GC5 Exterior
- image 573936

The Geely GC5 is one of the best looking and safest cars that the Chinese company makes. With its European-focused design elements, six standard airbags, and competitive 1.5-liter engine, the GC5 is easily one of the best candidates for cars that could let the brand start U.S. sales. Cars like the Mazda2 are due to be updated soon, and other machines like the Fiat 500 offer more style and power, but for an increased cost. If Geely can drop a compact hatch that is as competitive as the GC5 for a price in the 12k to 13k range, it could have a solid sales hit.

  • Leave it
    • Rear seats look uncomfortable
    • Most US buyers will want automatic transmission option
    • Not as much equipment standard as some competitors
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