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Beijing show: ZX Auto now set to debut in July

Grand entrance: China's ZX Auto will arrive in Australia in July 2012 with the Grand Tiger ute.

Chinese-made Grand Tiger ute to take on Great Wall in Australia within three months

ZX logo24 Apr 2012

By RON HAMMERTON in BEIJING

THE pioneering Great Wall Motors ute range is set to get some direct competition at the budget end of the LCV market in Australia from July when the Chinese-built ZX Auto Grand Tiger one-tonner lands Down Under, a few months later than expected.

Armed with a similar 2.4-litre Mitsubishi-sourced petrol engine as the Great Wall V240, the Grand Tiger will be distributed by Perth-based Chinese Automotive Distributors alongside its Geely range through a network of more than 30 retail outlets.

From September, the Grand Tiger – to be available in dual-cab pick-up and single-cab-chassis configurations, in 4x2 and 4x4 – will also get a turbo-diesel variant with a Toyota-based DK4 four-cylinder engine.

The arrival of the Grand Tiger was confirmed to GoAuto at the Beijing motor show by ZX Auto regional marketing manager for Australia and Africa, David Zhao, who said the first five Grand Tigers had not only been sent to Australia but had been test-driven across the country, from Perth to the eastern seaboard.

The Grand Tiger was to have arrived in Australian showrooms in March, but, as it seems with all Chinese-sourced vehicles, the debut has blown out to mid-year.

As GoAuto reported early this year, suspension tuning for the ute was done in Melbourne by UK-based Prodrive – the company behind Ford Performance Racing.

160 center imageWhile some export markets get an Isuzu-based diesel engine in the Grand Tiger, Mr Zhao confirmed that Australia would get the Euro 4 Toyota diesel that, like the Mitsubishi-sourced petrol engine, is used by several Chinese manufacturers.

Although no power, torque or fuel consumption figures have yet been given for the Australian version, brochures at the Beijing show reveal a diesel that produces 81kW at 3600rpm and 221Nm at 2200rpm.

The petrol engine is expected to deliver 93kW of power at 5250rpm and 193Nm of torque at 3000rpm – well above the 76kW and 193Nm of the 2.2-litre petrol engine used in the Grand Tiger elsewhere.

However, the Grand Tiger will arrive without ESC, as the vehicle has not been engineered with the safety device – and is not required by law to have it in Australia, unlike passenger cars.

That same deficiency is expected to exclude ZX Auto’s Grand Tiger-based SUV, the Landmark, from taking on Great Wall’s similar ladder-chassis off-roader, the X240/X200, any time soon.

However, ZX Auto has not ruled out expanding its Australian range with a compact SUV at some point in the future.

The company showed the oddly named Urban Ark small SUV in concept form at the Beijing show, saying it would probably be trialled on the Chinese domestic market before exports were considered.

The Urban Ark is powered by a 1.5-litre 77kW/141Nm petrol engine – also from Mitsubishi.

ZX Auto is based in Hebei province, north of Beijing, where it has two factories with a production capacity of 110,000 units a year.

A new plant to open next year in Yichang City will add capacity for an extra 200,000 vehicles, up to half of which will be passenger cars – a first for the company.

Apart from Libya, the company exports to the Middle East, South-East Asia, Africa, the former Soviet Union, Central America and South America.

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