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    After a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen for about a third of the price? Say hello to the Tank 700.

    That’s probably unfair on the Tank, given that it has its own unique style, characteristics and off-road ability, however there’s no denying that this, well, tank, is going to hit a sweetspot with many buyers when it comes to Australia.

    The exact pricing for the Tank 700 is yet to be revealed, but converting the Chinese price to AUD for the absolute base model (not the Launch Edition seen here) has it coming in for the equivalent of about $91,000.

    Add some costs for shipping and taxation, and it’s very possible this will be priced either just north or just south of $100,000 – which would make it the most expensive GWM product to ever go on sale in Australia.

    Is it even coming? All indications are very positive and it just depends on whether GWM Australia can make a strong business case and show that there is enough demand for a vehicle like the Tank 700.

    Funnily enough, this isn’t even the absolute top of the Tank range – that would be the upcoming Tank 800, which looks a lot like it was inspired by the Rolls-Royce Cullinan. For now though, we are focused on the Tank 700.

    We had the opportunity to go for a very quick drive in the top-spec Hi4-T in China last month given the Tank 700’s likelihood for our market, and our first impressions were of genuine surprise and delight.

    For those unaware of the global positioning of the GWM brands, the Chinese OEM has its GWM Ute, which in China is called Poer but takes the Cannon name locally. You then have Ora (which wears cute names like Funky Cat or Ballet Cat in China) and Tank.

    There is also the premium Wei brand which sits on the more luxurious side of things, and is shaping up to be a contender for the likes of Genesis and Lexus in the future. But, it’s still some time away from making its debut in Australia.

    For now the Tank brand is the top of the food chain for GWM locally, and the 700 will be the halo of the Australian range. It’s still unclear whether the Tank 800 is on the cards for future introduction Down Under.

    The boxy shape of the Tank 700 is hard to capture in photos, but this is a pretty tough-looking SUV which comes in at 5090mm long by 2061mm wide, and 1952mm in height.

    Depending on the grade and suspension setting, you can have ground clearance ranging from 249mm to 282mm, with 32 degree departure and approach angles. GWM claims the Tank 700 will have a 900-970mm wading depth, depending on variant.

    For comparison’s sake, the Tank 700’s wading depth is up to 70mm better than that of the Land Rover Defender (900mm), 200-270mm more than that of the standard G-Wagen, and even 50-120mm more than that of the electric G-Wagen. Not bad.

    The two variants currently available in China are both powered by the same plug-in hybrid system, which teams a turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine with a 37.1kWh lithium-ion battery.

    It offers system outputs of 385kW and 800Nm, which runs through all four wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission. The engine itself makes 265kW and 560Nm, while the electric motor puts out 120kW and 400Nm.

    GWM doesn’t provide performance (0-100km/h ) or weight figures for the Tank 700, but for comparison’s sake the AMG G 63 offers 430kW and 850Nm; and while it’s not always fair to directly compare a plug-in hybrid’s combined power figure against a combustion-only powertrain, the Tank 700 isn’t expected to be slow.

    That was certainly our experience behind the wheel. The Tank 700 is a bit of a beast and gets going with significant pull—far more than we anticipated. Surprisingly, it also stops and turns with more grace and control than we expected, and even the ride over the test course at GWM’s designated R&D centre was well sorted.

    Perhaps our expectations were low, or perhaps the Tank 700 is an excellent performer; we need to have more time with the car on local roads to say for sure, but we were impressed regardless.

    According to its specification sheet, the Tank 700 PHEV has a combined fuel economy figure of just 2.97L/100km with a full battery, but expect that figure to be around 10.9L/100km if you are running on an empty battery.

    GWM claims the Tank 700 can run around 100km in EV mode (90km for the top-spec version with bigger wheels) which means that most Australians could drive the Tank 700 as a zero-emissions vehicle every day and charge overnight at home, while still having the benefit of an ICE engine and fuel tank for longer drives and weekends away.

    The interior is also pretty impressive and it feels like a product that could easily compete with far more expensive European brands.

    Fit and finish, the quality of materials and displays – including a 12.3-inch digital cluster matched to the 16.2-inch infotainment system – really lift the cabin ambience. There’s even a 7.0-inch display for rear passengers.

    The feature list is extensive. Here’s some highlights from the base grade:

    • Leather seats
    • 256-colour ambient interior lighting
    • Massage seats
    • Heated, ventilated seats
    • 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
    • 16.2-inch infotainment screen
    • Head-up display
    • 7.0-inch rear control display (2nd row)
    • Front USB x2 (Type A + Type C)
    • Rear USB x2 (Type A + Type C)
    • 16-speaker Harman Kardon audio
    • Active Noise Cancellation
    • Over the air (OTA) system updates
    • 4-zone voice recognition
    • Vehicle hotspot (Wi-Fi)
    • Facial recognition
    • 360-degree view cameras
    • Driver monitor system
    • Electric air vent roof liner in suede
    • Electric sunroof
    • Multifunction leather steering wheel
    • 4-way electric steering wheel adjust
    • Wireless phone chargers x2

    Some of the features available on higher grades include laser headlights, GWM’s self-driving highway system, and 22-inch alloy wheels shod in 275/50 R22 tyres, amongst other things.

    Overall, there’s a lot to digest here, but our time sitting in the GWM Tank 700 and our quick drive program tells us that this Chinese off-roader certainly has a lot of potential.

    If GWM can get the price positioning right, then with its strong balance of design, performance, capable off-roading capability, as well as the long seven-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, GWM should certainly be able to entice buyers into having a very good look at the Tank 700.

    Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

    Alborz Fallah

    Alborz is the founder of CarAdvice (sold to Nine and now Drive) and co-founder of CarExpert. He is an honourary adjunct professor & entrepreneur in residence at the University of QLD. He loves naturally-aspirated V8s, V10s and V12s and is in denial about the impending death of the internal combustion engine.

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