Article from WhichCar.
Brace for invasion, GWM’s Tank brand eyes Australian soil with its mid-size 4×4 named 300. And, we’ve driven it…
Great Wall Motors (GWM) is aiming big in Australia. And not only for its sales targets, but with its cars. GWM says if the business case stacks up, this five-seat off-road SUV called the Tank 300 might land before the end of 2022.
As the Chinese company eyes off an expansion in the local market, it’s closely investigating the opportunity to import the Tank 300 alongside the Haval Big Dog to boost its product line-up. And, despite these almost comical names, GWM is serious.
So serious, it would establish a whole new brand in Tank for the 300. It even imported a left-hand drive pilot Tank 300 from China for us to drive at a press launch last week. The drive was very short but rugged – it took place on the short off-road obstacle course at Werribee, in outer Melbourne.
Design-wise the Tank 300 clearly takes inspiration from key rivals. Its chunky styling hides a few clues. The clam-shell bonnet, round headlight shape and boxy guards smack of a Jeep Wrangler or Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen. Meanwhile, those daytime running lights conjure Ford Bronco thoughts, and the badge looks like a Lincoln’s.
When you think about it, aspiring after an American luxury brand like Lincoln makes sense for GWM. Tank is born from its luxury brand called Wey, which reasons why the 300 is surprisingly refined inside. The fit and finish is decent. And the interior has details on par, at least on first impressions, with an entry-level luxury manufacturer.
White-stitched black leather adorns the front power seats and doors, the speakers are caged in brushed metal. Knurled dials for the drive mode and HVAC vents are a nice touch, as is the screen that spans from the dash to the centre stack.
Although we didn’t get time to properly explore the screen’s functionality or interface, we can vouch for its high-resolution graphics and useful 3D surround-view camera – especially on the off-road course. The latter helped us crawl over peaks more confident in where we’d point down the other side.
The 300 is based around the same ladder-frame chassis under the GWM Ute Cannon. It sports front double-wishbone suspension and a multi-link coil-sprung live axle at the rear, while locking differentials at either end further boost its bush-bashing ability.
Grunt comes via a turbocharged 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder engine that runs on petrol. A diesel engine is in development, we’re told, but the 167kW and 387Nm on offer do an admirable job of guiding the two-tonne Tank over the off-road course.
The ZF transmission offers automatic and manual modes, activated by clicking the gear lever to the side. Peak torque is available from as early as 1800rpm, which helps maintain low-speed throttle response over most terrain without any drama. Despite its low-down response, it feels a bit light for torque. An Isuzu MU-X, for example, churns out 430Nm.
Multiple drive modes are available, including sand and snow, while four-high and four-low modes are joined by a two-high option that’s unavailable in the Ute Cannon. Traction in four-wheel-drive was virtually flawless over the mildly challenging course, helped partly by the Cooper Discoverer ATT tyres in 265/65 R17 size.
Nor did the Tank’s bodywork ever feel like it was in danger. Clearance is set at a Ford Everest-rivalling 224mm, while approach and departure angles are superb at 33 degrees and 34 degrees, respectively.
The Tank spans 4760mm long over a 2750mm wheelbase. Another off-road family SUV like the Ford Everest, for example, measures 4892mm in length but can fit another row of seating (for seven seats in total) into its 2850mm wheelbase.
Will Australians like the Tank 300? It’s hard to answer that without spending more time with it. GWM says that initial research groups were on the fence about how it looks, but Australia has a soft spot for novelty. And given Tank will complement, rather than replace, the current GWM line-up in sales yards, its Chinese origins might help its left-field appeal.
The 300 costs AU$35K once its domestic price is converted. Although its impressive off-road ability remains provisional, its classy interior could make it an attractive outdoor lifestyle option even if it was offered for AU$50K. That’s the entry point for a four-wheel-drive Isuzu MU-X or Jeep Wrangler.
Family-hauling types might find their five-seat configuration limiting or want to wait for the larger 700 models. The seven-seat 4WD Ford Everest begins at $55,900 before on roads, for instance. But ultimately pricing and specification will decide its fate here, where value is proving king.
Tank 300 specifications
Body: Five-seat, five door SUV
Engine: inline-four cylinder, 24v, turbo
Power: 167kW @ 5000rpm
Torque: 387Nm @ 1800rpm
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Drive: four-wheel drive
Tow rating: 3000kg