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Future models - Geely - GC9

Smooth-riding Geely GC9 joins the diplomatic corps

True blue: Geely’s luxury GC9 large car benefits from Australian-developed automatic transmission and suspension tuning.

Aussie engineering takes to China’s roads in new Geely GC9 enlisted by government

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Geely logo16 Apr 2015

FOREIGN diplomats and other dignitaries in China will get the benefit of Australian automotive knowhow when they are chauffeured around Beijing in the newly released Geely GC9 luxury sedan.

The Chinese government has selected the GC9 for its official fleet in China, taking delivery this week of the first batch of 20 Chinese-built GC9s – called Borui in China – for its diplomatic service fleet in the nation’s capital. A further 30 are on order.

The foreign affairs ministry’s service bureau fleet offers the cars to envoys at foreign embassies within China, providing them with local transport while at the same time showcasing China’s latest automotive products.

The Commodore-sized GC9 rides on a suspension tuned by engineers from Melbourne’s Premcar – the same team that, under its previous Prodrive Engineering ownership, developed Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) models for Ford Australia until last year.

The GC9 also gets a six-speed automatic transmission developed in Australia by Geely-owned Drivetrain Systems International (DSI) at its Victorian development centre in Clayton.

GoAuto has learned that engineers from Premcar and DSI shared GC9 development mules – codenamed KC – as they worked in parallel on the vehicle until last year.

Geely showed the final production car at Beijing’s Water Cube Olympic swimming centre in December, but has only this month launched its new luxury sedan in Chinese showrooms.

The car is regarded as a game-changer for Geely, not only taking the Chinese company’s levels of technology and safety to new levels – thanks to input from fully owned subsidiary Volvo – but also showing off the brand’s new look masterminded by former Volvo and Ford designer Peter Horbury.

Although the GC9’s fastback design was already well advanced when Mr Horbury transferred to the Chinese design centre, he oversaw many of the finishing flourishes, including the unique grille that is expected to become the Geely signature.

According to the official Geely launch media release, Volvo assisted with the chassis development “to provide an exhilarating driving experience”.

But then it goes on to say that Australia’s Prodrive “enhanced the GC9’s suspension to offer a stable, comfortable experience for passengers”.

As GoAuto reported exclusively in May last year, Geely GC9 prototypes were spotted outside Premcar’s engineering development centre in Campbellfield, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

The independent business is owned and run by three former Prodrive and FPV executives – Paul Cook, Bernie Quinn and Jim Jovanovski – who bought the Australian operation from British Prodrive owner David Richards in June 2012.

The company then established a second centre in China as it pursued engineering work with Chinese car-makers to fill the gap left by the demise of Ford Australia programs.

So far, it has provided services for Changan – Ford’s Chinese joint-venture partner – GAC Gonow, Dongfeng and ZX Auto, as well as Geely and Indian manufacturer Mahindra.

Despite its western levels of technology, design and safety, is unclear if or when the GC9 will make it to Australia via Perth-based Chinese Automotive Distributors (CAD).

CAD – owned by major Perth car dealer John Hughes – sold the Geely MK light sedan in Western Australia, but delayed national expansion until it could get its hands on right-hand-drive versions of Geely’s new-generation vehicles developed in league with Volvo.

In Australia, the GC9 would compete against cars such as Skoda’s Octavia.

For China, it gets a choice of three Geely-developed petrol engines – a 2.4-litre normally aspirated four, a turbocharged direct-injection 1.8-litre four, and a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated six.

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