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ZX Auto lands diesel in fresh-look GrandTiger

More bite for Tiger: The Chinese-made ZX Auto GrandTiger ute has gained a diesel engine and a new front face.

New diesel GrandTiger ute expands ZX Auto appeal as Chinese brand looks to spread

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4 Oct 2013

CHINESE motor company ZX Auto has quietly added a new diesel version of its GrandTiger budget ute range in Australian showrooms, albeit only in its test market of Western Australia at this stage.

The 2.5-litre direct-injected turbo diesel GrandTiger ute arrives in the showrooms of the four ZX Auto dealerships priced from $19,990 drive-away, joining the petrol-powered one-tonner models that introduced the fledgling brand to Australia in the middle of this year.

All being well with feedback from GrandTiger sales in WA over the next few months, importer Chinese Automotive Distributors (CAD) plans to extend its sales footprint to the east coast from about May or June next year, going head to head with similar utes from the likes of Great Wall Motors, Mahindra, SSangyong and – soon – Tata in the workhorse market.

Owned by major Perth motor dealer John Hughes, CAD also has its eyes on its first ZX Auto SUV, the large GrandTiger-based Landmark V5, to join the range from 2015.

Other ZX Auto models, such as the compact Urban Ark SUV just launched in China, might also be in the agenda should the brand get a firm toe-hold in Australia.

ZX Auto – full name Zhongxing Auto – is a joint venture of a Taiwanese company, Unite Leading Co, and China’s Hebei Tianye Automobile Group. It is based in Baoding – the same city as Great Wall Motors.

CAD sees ZX Auto vehicles as complementary to its other Chinese brand, Geely, which has been delayed until about 2015 when a new range of Volvo-based Geely passenger cars are expected to start arriving from China for pan-Australia release.

The diesel GrandTiger – in the same dual-cab and cab-chassis and 4x2 and 4x4 configurations at the petrol models – gets a prominent, muscular chrome grille that marks the facelifted GrandTiger.

That same treatment will be extended to the petrol range in WA from about February or March, while also being adopted for the 2014 Landmark V5 to complete the family look.

The diesel engine produces 95kW of power and 316Nm of torque, and is mated exclusively with a five-speed manual transmission.

Fuel economy for both the dual-cab and cab-chassis versions is said to 8.8 litres per 100km on the combined test cycle, while payload capacity exceeds one tonne in both cases. Braked towing capacity is two tonnes.

The front suspension is double wishbone, while leaf springs do the job at the back.

Only two airbags are offered, and while ABS is standard, no electronic stability control (ESC) is included at this stage.

Standard equipment is plentiful, including Bluetooth, audio connectivity, 16-inch alloy wheels, alloy side steps, stainless steel sports bar, fog lamps, air-conditioning and tub liner.

Like the petrol models that employ a 100kW 2.4-litre Mitsubishi-sourced engine – the same one as Great Wall’s V240 – the diesel GrandTiger utes have a three-year, 100,000km warranty.

CAD director Rod Gailey told GoAuto that his company had run a teaser campaign for the diesel GrandTiger, with some low-key reveals at rural displays and farm expos in WA recently, adding “The feedback has been good.” Mr Gailey said CAD had agreed with ZX Auto to import limited numbers of the utes to test the market from the point of view of both consumers and dealers.

“We brought the petrol in first back in April-May,” he said “There is probably about 100 in the market.

“We have run consumer testing, we have run customer surveys, and the satisfaction has been very good.

“And although it is early days, feedback on the diesel has been even better.” Mr Gailey said the exact date for an east coast roll-out of ZX Auto products had still to be set, but depended on a number of factors, including the arrival in volume of the facelifted petrol GrandTiger next year.

“A lot depends on pricing and AUD (Australiand dollar) configuration, but the real test is how the vehicle goes here, with customers and with dealers,” he said. “We are monitoring that very closely.

“We are somewhat slower to market than we would have liked, but we are reviewing every step we take, carefully.” Mr Gailey said that while the Landmark SUV was “a definite” for Australia, decisions on powertrain and other components for the Australian model would not be made until next year.

He said despite the wait for the ZX Auto range to make it to eastern states, CAD still had dealers waiting to take on the franchise there.

He said CAD had a policy of keeping the communications line open to them, to keep them informed of progress.

Pricing for the petrol GrandTiger starts at just $15,974 for the cab-chassis 4x2 ($16,990 drive-away), making it the cheapest full-sized one-tonner in the land, while the diesel range kicks off from $19,114 ($19,990 drive-away) for a similar configuration.

The dual-cab diesel 4x2 GrandTiger is $23,981 or $24,990 drive-away, placing it smack on top of Great Wall’s diesel V200.

The flagship diesel 4x4 dual cab is $26,990 or $27,990 drive-away.

ZXAuto GrandTiger diesel drive-away pricing
Cab-chassis 4x2 $19,990
Cab-chassis 4x4 $22,990
Dual-cab 4x2 $24,990
Dual-cab 4x4 $27,990

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