GWM is on the charge in Australia. Sales grew by 36 per cent in Australia during 2022 across its Haval and Ute brands, leaving it knocking on the door of the top 10 on the sales charts.
It won’t be resting on its laurels in 2023. Along with Ora-branded electric cars, it’s debuting the off-road focused Tank line locally. First cab (or should it be tank?) off the rank is the 300.
It’s not a soft-roader dressed up in army fatigues, it’s a proper off-roader aimed loosely at everything from the Jeep Wrangler to the Ford Everest. It’s also a hybrid, although petrol power is offered in the 300 elsewhere in the world.
We had a quick off-road drive of the Tank 300 ahead of its arrival in showrooms in the coming months.
The Tank 300 is priced in line with low-end variants of the larger, seven-seat Ford Everest family off-roader.
It also competes, tangentially at least, with the Jeep Wrangler. The Wrangler range starts above $80,000 before on-roads, however.
2023 GWM Tank 300 pricing:
- GWM Tank 300 Lux Hybrid: $55,990
- GWM Tank 300 Ultra Hybrid: $60,990
All prices are drive-away
With a bold dashboard design, comfortable seats, and luxurious trimmings in even the entry-level model, the Tank 300 makes an impact in person.
The dual-screen infotainment system takes clear inspiration from the Mercedes-Benz world, and looks particularly flash in person. It’s running newer software than what’s on offer in the Haval Jolion and H6, with shortcut buttons running down its right-hand side.
The driver display is also unique relative to what’s on offer elsewhere in the range, with rugged graphics to match the Tank 300’s off-road remit. We’ll reserve judgement on its operation until we’ve had more of a chance to play with it, but it certainly looks sharp.
With an elevated seating position, upright edges to the bonnet and body, and all the requisite rugged touches inside, it feels every bit a tough off-roader. On a similar theme to the screens, the two circular air vents and round button/clock cluster are distinctly G-Wagen inspired.
Although there were some hard plastics around, our Lux testers felt nicely appointed. Given the off-road hardware and power on offer for the price, the cabin feels nicely put together.
Rear seat space is impressive. There’s enough headroom to accomodate tall adults, and legroom is excellent as well.
Save for the tight-ish door opening (and the broad side steps, which are likely to cause a few muddy pant legs) it’s a really usable space if you’re often carrying leggy teenagers around. The air vents and dual USB-A ports will win favour with kids, too.
Boot space hasn’t been confirmed by GWM, but the space behind the side-hinged tailgate itself is wide and flat. You’ll get more in the back of an Everest in its five-seat guise, but the 300 has what looks like a usable boot.
It’s also worth bearing in mind the 300 is 4760mm long on a 2750mm wheelbase, making it 180mm and 150mm smaller than an Everest respectively. That makes for less boot space, but it should also make for a more manoeuvrable car in town.
If you’re after more space again, the larger Tank 500 has previously been mooted as an option for Australia…
Power in the Tank 300 Hybrid comes from a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder petrol engine mated with an electric motor.
Outputs are channeled through a nine-speed automatic transmission to a full-time four-wheel drive system, with switchable low-range. Petrol models feature a more conventional four-wheel drive system with 2H, 4H, and 4L modes.
System outputs are a combined 258kW of power and 615Nm of torque. Braked towing capacity is 2500kg.
Approach angle is 33 degrees, departure angle is 34 degrees, and ground clearance is 224mm.
We drove the Tank 300 on a short off-road course in both petrol and hybrid forms. Along with a few firm, fairly simple climbs and descents, we waded through water 600mm deep, hit some offset moguls, and tackled a basic rock crawl.
You’ll have to wait a bit longer for a full on- and off-road review.
As we’ve come to know from strong-selling Toyota hybrids, along with Haval’s newer challengers, the Tank 300 moves off the mark using the electric motor rather than the petrol engine. When the petrol engine did fire, it did so smoothly and quietly.
In our 2022 off-road SUV mega test, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid struggled to make it past a number of obstacles as the electric motor on its rear axle wasn’t powerful enough. There were no such issues here.
The electric motor in the Tank 300 is integrated with the transmission, rather than driving a single axle, and feels capable of offering a real helping hand.
On a relatively steep climb where (with a tentative right foot) the petrol engine bogged and the transmission kicked down, the e-motor was on hand to add an extra push in the back. Rather than being caught between gears, the Tank 300 hybrid cruised up without fuss.
It was easy to maintain constant throttle over rough roads at low speed, and the brake pedal didn’t feel touchy or wooden based on our brief spin. That’s an improvement over the H6 Hybrid, which has a very numb dead pedal.
Along with its full-time four-wheel drive system, the Tank 300 Hybrid features low-range. It’s activated using a dial on the transmission tunnel, and engaged quickly on our test. There’s also a locking rear differential on the Lux, and a front differential lock on the Ultra.
Light steering made the Tank easy to manoeuvre around our course, and outward visibility is good. Like the GWM Ute, the Tank 300 features a camera system capable of showing you what’s happening around or below the car in high resolution which is handy for nervous off-roaders in tight places.
Also handy for off-road newbies is the hill-descent control system, which kept the car’s momentum in check down a short gravel hill.
Tank 300 Lux Hybrid features:
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Auto-folding, heated exterior mirrors
- LED headlights and tail lights
- Daytime running lights
- Two-piece under-body guard
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- Crawl Control
- Tank Turn
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Power driver’s seat
- ‘Comfort-Tek’ leather upholstery
- Microfibre and leather steering wheel
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Front and rear USB ports
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- 9-speaker audio system
- Ambient interior lighting
- DAB+ digital radio
- 12V power outlets (front and luggage cabin)
Tank 300 Ultra Hybrid adds:
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Nappa leather seats
- Heated and cooled front seats
- Power’s driver seat with massage function
- Heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Wireless phone charging
- ‘Infinity’ branded nine-speaker sound system
- More ambient lighting colours
The Tank 300 wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating, based on testing carried out in 2022.
The four-wheel drive scored 88 per cent for adult occupant protection, 89 per cent for child occupant protection, 81 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 85 per cent for safety assist features.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- 7 airbags incl. front-centre
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane departure warning
- Lane keep assist
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Surround-view cameras with ‘Transparent Chassis Function’
The GWM Tank 300 will be backed by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and five years of roadside assistance.
There will also be five years of capped-price servicing, though prices have yet to be announced.
Combined fuel consumption is also yet to be rated.
We’ll need more time behind the wheel to form a full opinion, but the Tank 300 shows plenty of promise.
It’s handsome to look at, well equipped and, based on our quick drive, is capable when the going gets rough.
The fact it should offer significantly better fuel economy than a traditional off-roader in town thanks to its hybrid powertrain is a bonus that will no doubt tempt buyers.
GWM is already on a roll in Australia, and the arrival of Tank should only give it more momentum.
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MORE: Everything GWM Tank 300