There is little question cash-strapped South Africans are considering new vehicle purchases a lot more carefully than they might once have and badge loyalty is giving way to pure affordability – this affirmed by the dip in sales during last month.

This process of casting a wider buying net is also bringing some of the ‘alternative’ brand names into the mix as buyers look to maximise their meagre spending power and automakers such as GWM are capitalising on this by offering highly specced vehicles at considerably less than some of the other players and without the need to purchase add-on options.

The flagship of the GWM P-Series is the LTD and it slots in above the LS and LT models in the P-Series Double Cab range, set apart from the rest by 18-inch Gloss Black Sports Alloy rims with all-terrain tyres.

Body colour-coded door handles and mirrors are also LTD specific, along with a Black Sports Bar, plastic bedliner, off-road steel front and rear bumpers and more assertive off-road wheel arches.

Other functional and model-specific features include a black roof rail, a specifically developed snorkel, a front winch that can pull up to 4,2 tonnes and 12-volt accessory connector in the engine bay and a 120-Watt 220V located next to the rear USB port.

Priced at R694 950, the LTD version has price playmates including the Peugeot Landtrek 1.9TD double cab 4Action 4x4, Toyota Hilux 2.4GD-6 double cab 4x4 Raider X auto and the Ford Ranger 2.0 SiT double cab XLT 4x4.

In terms of size, the LTD is marginally bigger in some areas than the opposition – 5 410 mm long versus 5 350 for the Ranger but 1 934 mm wide against 2 015 mm for the Ranger, with the others sitting somewhere in between.

However, its payload is less than all the others at 650 kg with the Peugeot topping the list at 1 015 kilograms – so, yes, there are compromises that need to be made with any purchase and the decision will be based on where, and how, you intend to use the vehicle.

What sets the LTD version apart from its siblings is the fully selectable 4x4 system that embraces a variety of driving modes, including 2H, 4H, Snow, Mud, Sand and 4L. The offroad systems include the Cross-Country Expert Mode and Drive Mode Memory, linking to both front and rear differential locks. 

The GWM P-Series LTD utilises the same 2,0-litre turbo-diesel engine fitted to the rest of the range, offering 120 kW of power at 3 600 r/min and maximum torque of 400 Nm between 1 500 r/min and 2 500 r/min, coupled with a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.

The LTD is certainly not unattractive to look at and the interior fit and finish is of a high quality that makes the driving experience a pleasurable one. In fact, the tactile surfaces in the vehicle are akin to those in much more expensive and luxury-specified vehicles.

In the main the driving experience is good. The GWM does, perhaps, lack a little of the refinement of some of the more expensive vehicles on offer but it lacks nothing in capability – both on and off road.

There are some things I did find irritating – notably the fct the lane keeper could not be permanently disabled and has to be turned off each time the vehicle restarted. For me, personally, lane keeping in this country where pothole dodging and unkempt road edges are the order of the day is not a practical function.

What I did like is the fact the volume and climate controls are switches and knobs and not buried deep inside a touchscreen system that is almost impossible to manage while on the move.

Active and passive safety is taken care of via an anti-lock braking system with Electronic Brake Distribution, Traction Control, Rollover Mitigation and the Brake Assist System.

Standard also are Hill Descent Control, a 360-degree camera, a tyre pressure monitoring system, as well as dual front crash bags with side, curtain and front central bags, and ISOFIX mountings. For extra security, the LTD has an engine immobiliser system.

In terms of in-car entertainment and connectivity, the LTD features a 7-inch LCD virtual instrument cluster and a 9-inch multi-media touchscreen offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth capability as well as wireless phone charging, two USB ports in the front and one for the passengers.Also standard is autonomous braking when the cruise control is activated and this works well but the pickup after braking is exceedingly slow.

Offroad the LTD is happy to take on any kind of terrain and will sail over or through obstacles without breaking a sweat.

It comes with a standard 5-year/100 000 km warranty and service plan, and 5-year unlimited mileage Roadside assistance.

In the current market mix, the P-Series LTD is a highly competitive offering with a huge range of standard features and is worth more than just a cursory glance.

Colin Windell – proudly ALL THINGS MOTORING