The Tank. Yes, that’s right the Tank, is something a little different from the Chinese Great Wall Motors — known simply as GWM these days.
It’s a mid-sized, five-seat SUV, with a catchy name and quirky good looks, that combine to set it apart from and perhaps a little above the competition.
But don’t be fooled by the decorations, because it’s a fair dinkum 4×4 with all the necessary bits and bobs, including low and high range gearing.
Also, in a departure from practice, while it’s an SUV, Great Wall has not badged it as a Haval.
In fact, Tank is a separate line with its own logo back in China, and the Tank 300, to give it its full name, is certainly one of the better offerings from the Chinese manufacturer.
GWM quips it’s part luxury vehicle. Part 4×4. All Tank.
What’s it cost?
Styling is reminiscent of many 4x4s.
The 20-year-old SangYong Korando, the Dodge Nitro and the more recent Toyota FJ Cruiser spring to mind, with a dash of Jeep Wrangler thrown in.
There’s nothing particularly new about the derivative looks, however. Car manufacturers have been looking to each other’s designs for decades — they’re all guilty of it.
Prices start from $46,990 for the entry level Tank 300 Lux petrol, with the better equipped Ultra petrol from $50,990 — both prices are driveaway.
Lux Hybrid is $55,990, while the top of the line Ultra Hybrid is $60,990 — again driveaway.
Metallic paint adds $595.
Our test vehicle was the petrol-powered Ultra model.
Standard across the range are 17-inch alloys, artificial leather, two-zone climate control with rear air outlets and power adjustable driver and front passenger seats.
Add to this a sunroof, side steps, grab handles and roof rails, chilled console box, along with LED head and tail lights, daytime running lights, auto high beam, auto lights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, tyre pressure monitoring and a rear differential lock.
Ultra ups the ante with larger 18-inch alloys and the addition of a front differential lock, along with nappa leather accented seats, heated and cooled front pews, heated steering wheel, lumbar and massage for the driver, 64-colour ambient lighting, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, premium Infinity brand audio, wireless charging and a 220 volt power outlet.
On another note, we were surprised to discover the front windows had been tinted with film rather than genuine privacy glass.
And then there’s the key . . . It’s a chunky thing but absolutely no provision has been made for attaching it to a key ring. None whatsoever — which could make it easy to lose.
Infotainment comprises a 12.3-inch touchscreen, with a nine-speaker sound system as well as Bluetooth, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, with USB-A and USB-C ports in front and two USB-A ports for the rear along together with 12 volt power outlets in the front and luggage area.
There’s AM/FM radio but no DAB+ digital tuner, at least not in petrol models, and no mention of satellite navigation for any grade.
Yes. You can use your phone to navigate, but you’ll need a cable and once you run out of reception, you’ll run out of directions as well.
Of note, in the publicity shots the touchscreen displays a map which is a little misleading. Perhaps an asterisk is in order?
Tank 300 scores a full five stars for safety with a comprehensive suite of safety system that includes seven airbags including a centre airbag for the front, 360 degree reverse camera and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Forward Collision Warning (FCW).
There’s also Rear Cross Traffic Alert with auto braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Centre Keep, Emergency Lane Keep and Traffic Sign Recognition.
Child restraint anchorage points are provided for all three rear seats.
New Tank 300 is backed by a 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty, 5-year roadside assistance and 5-year capped price servicing.
What’s it go like?
What a pleasant surprise.
The Tank is a good thing, smooth and responsive, with a tight, well engineered feel.
The cabin is also finished to a high standard, with a quality feel, large comfortable seats and the comfort of five-star safety.
Even at $60K, the top of the line hybrid remains an attractive proposition compared to the now pricey Japanese and even Korean offerings — Toyota should be concerned.
Sitting on the same ladder chassis as the GWM Cannon utility, the five-seat wagon is about the same size as the Hilux-based Toyota Fortuner.
It’s 4760mm long, 1930mm wide and stands 1903mm high, with a 2750mm wheelbase.
Rear legroom is generous and the back seat is a better fit than most popular dual cab utes, with an adequate rather than large luggage area.
Our test vehicle the petrol-powered Ultra weighs in at 2155kg, while its hybrid counterpart is a heftier 2313kg — 158kg more with batteries and electric motor.
Both petrol and hybrid models have a modest braked towing capacity of 2500kg.
A full-size spare wheel sits on a swing tailgate that opens left-to-right, with a reported luggage capacity of 400 litres (not an official figure).
A 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine delivers 162kW of power at 5500rpm and 380Nm of torque from 1800-3600rpm and is paired with an eight-speed torque converter auto, with drive to to all four wheels through a part-time four-wheel drive system.
There’s 2H, 4H and 4L four-wheel drive, along with gear change paddles for the driver, a choice of on and off-road drive modes along with automatic engine stop-start to save fuel when the vehicle comes to a standstill — for instance at lights.
With a 75-litre fuel tank, fuel consumption is a claimed 9.5L/100km and it takes regular unleaded.
The hybrid meanwhile is powered by a 180kW/380Nm petrol engine with an electric motor that adds another 78kW and 268Nm, bringing combined output to an impressive 258kW and 615Nm.
The hybrid also gains an extra cog, with a nine-speed 9HAT hybrid automatic.
It uses 8.4L/100km.
Real world fuel economy is unfortunately on the high side.
It ranged from 9.5L/100km on an easy run down the motorway into Sydney to a long-term average of 14.0L/100km over more than 1400km.
A turbo-diesel is offered overseas, but unfortunately it i’s not expected here.
Inside the dash features back to back 12.3-inch digital display panels — one for instruments, the other for infotainment duties.
They’re flanked by stylish, turbine-shaped air vents, with a faux fifth centre vent that actually houses a cool analogue clock.
The instrument cluster offers a choice of two themes, but little in the way of customisation.
Independent suspension front and back, together with road focused rubber deliver a surprisingly refined drive experience on bitumen.
This bodes well and is a smart choice as it is where most SUVs will spend the majority of their time.
Throttle response is gratifying, it’s reasonably quick off the mark and the steering is surprisingly accurate for a 4×4, with the ability to alter the weighting in settings.
Alas, Emergency Lane Keep (ELK) and the continual tugging at the steering wheel that it produces soon becomes annoying, but that’s the case with most makes and models. Thankfully it can be disabled.
In terms of off road ability, Tank has a decent 224mm of ground clearance, with handy 33 degree front and 34 degree rear approach and departure angles.
A steel front bash plate and rear differential lock are standard, while the Ultra adds a front locking diff to the mix.
Although independent suspension makes Tank a much better thing on the road, it ultimately limits wheel travel and with it the ability to keep both front wheels on the ground at the same time.
The front diff lock in our Ultra version compensates in part for this and will help one wheel find traction even when the other is stranded in the wind.