Car reviews - Tank - 300
Value for money, rugged ladder-frame chassis, smooth ride, decent articulation and clearance, strong equipment list, sizeable cabin, low-end electric torque, boxy proportions offer great visibility
Room for improvement
Hybrid 4WD technology lacks pedigree, transmission issues on test, touchscreen and delicate buttons not suited to off-road use, unusually broad side steps, no off-road accessories available as yet
GWM’s Tank 300 has a lot to offer 4x4 buyers on paper, but will Aussies be convinced?
27 Jan 2023
By MATT BROGAN
GREAT Wall Motors released details of its two-variant Tank 300 Hybrid range late last year, with range pricing beginning at just $55,990 drive-away.
As the only true four-wheel drive competitor in its class – and the only hybrid 4WD on the market – the Tank 300 Hybrid slots neatly between the pint-sized Suzuki Jimny (from $26,990 before on-road costs) and almost identically sized Jeep Wrangler (from $81,450 + ORC).
The Chinese-made model uses a ladder-frame chassis sourced from the GWM Ute and offers a selectable 4WD system and locking rear differential (a front locker is included on the high-grade model).
Available as a five-seat proposition, the Tank 300 Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-litre petrol and electric motor combination driving through a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The turbocharged four-cylinder unit makes a substantial 180kW at 5500-6000rpm and 380Nm at 1700-4000rpm while the electric traction motor adds 78kW and 268Nm. Total system power is listed at 225kW.
Measuring 4760mm in length, 1930mm wide and 1903mm high, the Tank 300 Hybrid is just 122mm shorter from bumper to bumper when compared to a long-wheelbase Wrangler Unlimited. It is, however, 55mm taller and 36mm wider, meaning it offers slightly better accommodation for passengers and luggage.
Interestingly, the Tank 300 Hybrid also offers greater towing capacity than the V6-powered Wrangler – a mere 5kg more, at 2500kg.
Off-road geometry and clearance numbers see the Tank 300 Hybrid offer 224mm of ground clearance (-28mm compared to the Wrangler Unlimited), a 33-degree approach angle (versus 36.5º) and 34-degree departure angle (versus 31.9º). GWM is yet to provide a ramp-over angle or wading depth for its newest ‘fourbie’, but for reference the Jeep offers 21.2º and 760mm respectively.
For the GWM Tank 300 Hybrid Lux ($55,990 drive-away) we find a lengthy standard equipment list including 17-inch alloy wheels, a six-way power driver seat, comfort-tek leather seats, micro-fibre leather steering wheel, 12.3-inch full colour instrument cluster and 12.3-inch full colour infotainment system, front and rear USB charge points (front with data transmission), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, nine-speaker audio, seven-colour ambient lighting, DAB+, power windows, auto-folding and heated power wing mirrors, LED head- and tail-lights, daytime running lamps, sunroof, two-piece under-body guard, and 12V power outlets in the front and luggage compartment.
The $60,990 (drive-away) Ultra adds 18-inch alloys, Nappa leather seats, heated and cooled front seats, eight-way powered driver seat with massage function and four-way powered lumbar support adjustment, a heated leather steering wheel, wireless charging, premium Infinity nine-speaker audio, 64-colour ambient lighting, 220V power outlet (luggage cabin), front differential lock, three-piece bash plates, auto parking and auto reverse tracking function.
In safety terms, the five-star ANCAP-rated range includes as standard a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), seven airbags, adaptive cruise control, auto emergency braking, front collision warning, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert with brake, crawl control for ultra low-speed off-road driving, and a feature called ‘tank turn’ that selectively applies the brake to assist steering in tight off-road conditions.
Also offered is a transparent chassis camera function, front and rear parking sensors and a 360-degree view camera system.
GWM offers the new Tank 300 Hybrid in five exterior colours: Lunar Red, Hamilton White, Dusk Orange, Fossil Grey, and Crystal Black while providing a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, five years’ roadside assistance and capped-price servicing.
A couple of clicks (literally) around the 4WD section of the Australian Automotive Research Centre in Wensleydale, Victoria did not give us a lot of time to put the Tank 300 Hybrid through its paces. The taste-test drive instead giving us a few precious minutes to gain a first impression of the model, its fit and finish, and just-right sizing, all of which bode well for recreational four-wheel drive buyers.
Pawing over the car, it’s hard to see why other manufacturers charge so much for so little. There’s a lot packed into the Tank 300 Hybrid, and it all looks beautifully finished – perhaps too beautifully finished for an off-roader.
The car-like cabin is highly-specified and lacks the ‘ruggedness’ of most rivals. But then again, for the price, I’m sure most won’t mind getting the Tank a little scuffed up.
Depending on how you view it, there are elements of Mercedes-Benz Gelanderwagen, Dacia Duster, Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Nitro about the Tank 300. It’s as if GWM has found the good bits – and what worked well – in comparable models from the past, and melded them together into something modern and robust.
The build and materials quality are surprisingly good. The doors offer a solid ‘thunk’ on closing and the panel gaps are tight and uniform. Even the underbody seems well-sorted with ‘vitals’ tucked up out of the way, useful recovery points installed as standard, and solid (and very Wrangler-esque) bumpers front and rear.
Inside, too, the Tank 300 feels more premium than it arguably should for a $60K off-roader. The seats are comfortable and well positioned to make the most of the model’s boxy proportions. It’s easy to see around, and easy to place. The dashboard and console are likewise finished to a very high standard, which makes it seem a shame the glossy finishes will one day be covered in dust, snow, mud and slush.
The commanding driving position certainly assists in feeling confident at the wheel – and the fighter jet styled gear selector is just amazing. It takes very little time to get used to the Tank 300, and though we only drove the car a short distance, it provided an unexpectedly comfortable ride, finding grip easily and climbing steep rises with relative ease – the electric motor providing plenty of low-end torque before the petrol unit took over.
It's an interesting sensation, almost diesel-like in some respects, but one that perhaps doesn’t offer the same fuel economy. The digital instrument cluster on the vehicle sampled showed 11.9 litres per 100km after running the same loop for the best part of two days. Loaded with equipment, a trailer, and over more challenging terrain, we’d expect this number to rise significantly.
Unfortunately, and despite our short time at the wheel, we were presented with something of an issue in our test car. The four-wheel drive modes and low-range transfer dials ‘froze’ after tackling a series of small moguls, the vehicle unable to be switched out of the mode we were in – even after disconnecting the battery for a ‘hard reset’.
Sure, these early production models may not yet have had all the ‘bugs sorted out’, but the issue did raise some questions around reliability off the beaten track that we would certainly want addressed before heading out into “Toyota country”.
Worryingly, GWM’s on-site engineers were unable to provide an explanation for what occurred, though we’re told the issue did seem to right itself later in the day.
As we said at the outset, this was a very small chance to experience a car in a very controlled setting. We’d really like to put the Tank 300 Hybrid through its paces over familiar – and more challenging – terrain before making a call on its capabilities, which, assuming the gremlins we experienced on the launch are remedied, look certain to offer something no other rival can for the money.
20th of January 2023
Tank 800 joins GWM’s off-road onslaught
More off-roaders from GWM’s Tank sub brand revealed, chance of import to Australia
10th of January 2023
Five-star safety for GWM Tank 300
Just-launched GWM Tank 300 off-road SUV scores top marks in ANCAP crash testing
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