GWM’s new flagship ute is one step closer to Australia, with government approval documents showing it’ll offer both hybrid and diesel options.

    Both options will also offer a braked towing capacity of 3500kg, a first for the brand in Australia.

    The Cannon Alpha, as it’s expected to be called, will slot in above the GWM Ute which offers only a 3000kg braked towing capacity figure.

    CarExpert understands it’s due here around mid-2024, with GWM beating rival brands in the race to offer a hybrid ute. Ford’s plug-in hybrid Ranger isn’t due until early 2025, while Toyota’s larger Tundra isn’t officially on sale yet.

    Its turbo-diesel is more potent than that of the GWM Ute, being a bigger 2.4-litre four-cylinder unit with 135kW of power at 3600rpm and 480Nm of torque, up from the 120kW figure of the GWM Ute’s 2.0-litre four.

    It gets one extra cog, too, with drive sent to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. It also features a 48V mild-hybrid system.

    According to the government approval document, the hybrid features a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with 180kW of power at 5500rpm, but no torque or total system outputs are listed.

    We know, however, that this powertrain in the Tank 300 features a 180kW/380Nm turbo-petrol engine mated with a 78kW/268Nm electric motor for total system outputs of 258kW and 615Nm.

    The filing doesn’t make note of the other engine offered in the Cannon Alpha (aka Shanhai Cannon) overseas: a 3.0-litre turbo-petrol V6, which pumps out 260kW and 500Nm.

    The Cannon Alpha measures 5445mm long, 1991mm wide and 1924mm tall on a 3350mm wheelbase. Overall, that makes it only 30mm longer than a GWM Ute, so it’s still considerably smaller than full-sized pickups like the Ford F-150.

    It has 224mm of ground clearance, and rides on 18-inch wheels behind which sit disc brakes.

    Tare mass is 2432kg with the diesel and 2526kg with the hybrid. Both variants feature a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 3310kg.

    GWM had already confirmed examples of the new ute were here for testing, with CarExpert spying one example in Melbourne featuring an unusual split tailgate.

    GWM also offers in China a clever multi-lid bed divider, which splits the tray into three separate components.

    The new ute is expected to be pitched as a more premium lifestyle ute than the GWM Ute. That’s because instead of leaf-spring rear suspension, the Cannon Alpha employs a multi-link coil-sprung back axle and double wishbones at the front.

    In China at least, it’s offered with electronically locking front and rear differentials and a full suite of active safety and driver assist features.

    These include highway driving assist, front and rear cross-traffic assist, blind-spot monitoring, and safe exit warning.

    There’s a standard 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, surround-view camera and power tailgate while, depending on the variant, there’s also a head-up display, panoramic sunroof, semi-autonomous parking assist, heated steering wheel, front and rear wireless phone chargers, and heated, ventilated, massaging and power-adjustable front seats.

    The Cannon Alpha will sit at the top of the local range along with the Tank 500, a hybrid-powered rival for the Toyota LandCruiser Prado that’s due here in the second quarter of 2024.

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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