Heavy Metal rocker! Clad in Goth black, the GWM Tank looks bigger than it really is and turns heads as its imposing Prescence moves serenely along its chosen path, commanding respect even from impatient taxi drivers trying to get a jump on the traffic by using the left turn only lanes.

The Hybrid Electric version of the GWM Tank 300 is equipped with an iBooster Intelligent Braking System that allows for energy regeneration during braking with 180 kW at 5 500 r/min from the petrol engine 78 kW from the electric motor.

The torque is 380 Nm from 1 700 r/min from the engine with the electric motor offering 268 Nm and this drives through a 9-speed hydraulic automatic gearbox and GWM claims fuel consumption of 8,4 l /100 km in a combined cycle – achievable by driving in a strict economy mode.

On the CHANGECARS test route the average was 9,2 l/100 km and this did not include any offroad excursions in that vehicle.

For the offroad I met up with Alan R from Motor Matters and 4x4 guru, Terence Tracy to do some video and testing at the route he designed at the Lion and Safari Park near Hartebeestpoort Dam – check the video here:


What began as a simple exercise of doing some filming of the vehicle negotiating a few tough obstacles turned into a major experimental learning curve as we repeated many of the obstacles using different settings on the GWM Tank – not using the diff lock and the like, even to the point of reversing up on very steep incline containing a nasty cross-axle dip just to see how the vehicle coped.

In my initial launch comments, I said this was an impressive off-roader even though it is cloaked in uber luxury trim.

Check out these pristine GWM Tank 300 offerings

The sojourn under the expert guidance of Tracy simply amplified that opinion.

Two things stood out for me – the first being the electric motor provides an excellent bridge with the instant power and torque from that easing smoothly into the uptake from the petrol engine, rather than a scenario in a donga where brake and throttle may be needed to build up engine revs, with the possibility too much could induce wheelspin.

The second is the excellent offroad camera that provides a high-definition output that allows millimetre accurate placement of the wheels.

In fact, with the camera, diff lock, the cruise control operated hill start and descent control, Alan R was moved to remark at some stage he would actually like to drive the GWM Tank. (So, we switched everything off and let him play happily for a while).

The GWM Tank 300 is not just any old ride. This beast is a heavyweight champ, squaring off in the price ring with the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and the Toyota Fortuner.

It is built on a ladder frame chassis made of 1,500 Mpa steel and has got multi-link rear suspension and a double-wishbone front suspension that’s smoother than a jazz tune on a Saturday night.

Inside this quiet haven, you are cocooned in comfort, thanks to special rubber mountings that soak up road noise and vibrations like a sponge. The suspension is so slick, it makes bumps in the road feel like you’re gliding over clouds.

Round LED headlamps that shine like a knight’s armour, dissected by LED daytime running lights that are brighter than a Broadway marquee. And let us not forget the off-road bumper with LED fog lamps that show off those Michelin HEV SUV tyres.

Swing around to the back, and you will find squared LED tail lamps and a full-size alloy spare wheel mounted to the hydraulically assisted rear door.

Luggage space starts at 400 litres and expands to 1 635 litres with the rear seats down – that’s enough room for your golf clubs, shopping sprees and maybe a small pony.

And, for the eco-friendly speedsters, the Hybrid Electric version boasts a permanent four-wheel drive with a smorgasbord of driving modes – from Normal to Sport, and even Stone or Snow for those adventurous days. Plus, Sand and Low-Range 4x4 for when you’re feeling extra rugged.

All GWM Tank 300 models have an electronically controlled rear differential lock for technical off-road driving as standard along with a ‘crawl’ speed operated via the cruise control that allows the driver to set a speed and not worry about foot-bounce on the throttle when doing serious donga-diving.

There is also a neat feature that locks the inside rear wheel to assist in making really tight turns when venturing into the bush.

The GWM Tank 300 offers 224 mm of ground clearance and has an approach angle of 33 degrees, departure angle of 34 degrees and ramp-over angle of 23,1 degrees for a maximum climb gradient rating of 70%, and all models, including the hybrid version, have a maximum wading depth of 700 mm.

All versions of the GWM Tank 300 include Dual 12,3-inch high-definition LCD screen, Ambient lighting, Leather upholstery, multi-function, multi-adjustable controls, charging ports being Type A and C in the front row and Type A in the rear. A 12V charging port in the luggage compartment and to the roof rails. 

Additional features include Bluetooth, dual zone climate control with rear high and low mounted air vents, a high-performance sound, power windows all round, privacy glass, a soundproof windshield and side windows for the front occupants, automatic low and high beams, automatic windscreen wipers and more.

All models are sold with a 7-year/200 000 km new vehicle warranty and unlimited roadside assistance for the same period. A 5-year/75 000 km service plan is included across the range, and service intervals are 12 months or every 15 000 km whichever comes first.

The HEV model has an additional warranty that covers the complete high-voltage system and vehicle battery for a full 8-years/150 000 km. 

Colin Windell