The Tank 500 targets the Toyota Land Cruiser and borrows from the luxury segment. Even without the ornaments, the Chinese off-road vehicle cuts a fine figure in a first short test.
As soon as you get closer to an example of the Great Wall Motor sub-brand Tank, you cannot help but wonder which SUV was the godfather this time. To give the answer right away: The Tank 500 HEV positions itself against the Toyota Land Cruiser. But the Chinese designers are also doing a bit of an injustice. Because if you want to build a classic off-road vehicle, various technical parameters are given that inhibit creativity. So the Tank 500 shares the P71 platform with its smaller brother, the Tank 300, and is therefore based on a ladder frame with a rigid axle at the rear.
As soon as you get in, you realize that the Chinese are friendly people. When the door is opened, the running board extends automatically, so that even smaller contemporaries can easily climb behind the steering wheel, which with the large round impact absorber, the massive horizontal spokes and the central logo reminiscent of that of a Rolls-Royce. The Chinese are obviously not lacking in self-confidence. The interior, with the high-rise 14.6-inch touchscreen and digital cockpit, looks and is modern. When it comes to infotainment, Tank and Great Wall Motor do not need to hide behind the established manufacturers. On the contrary: the displays are razor sharp and even if we don’t speak Mandarin, we understand some of the displays, such as the off-road screen, which shows all possible parameters such as body inclination. Over-the-air updates keep the automotive entertainment industry fresh.
The leather-trimmed interior is impressive. Of course, the appearance is far from the level of the British model and it will be interesting to see how it will look after a year or two. The applications in the dashboard also turn out to be not as solid as in the European luxury brands, but other car manufacturers also use this mimicry trick. We take a seat in the well-padded driver’s seat and quickly find a suitable position. A distinctive jet automatic lever, similar to that of the Tank 300, juts out from the center console. You can quickly see that the GWM interior designers took a close look at the European competition. As far as the sensible combination of virtual touchscreen and “real” buttons is concerned. The air conditioning piano under the monitor is self-explanatory and on the center console there is a rotary knob for the driving programs and pushers for the heated and ventilated leather seats.
With a push of the start button, the six-cylinder comes to life. When accelerating, the support provided by the 48-volt mild hybrid module has a positive effect and conceals any acceleration weakness. The trio of nine-speed automatic, electronic module and combustion engine confidently balance the China Kraxler with 260 kW / 354 hp and the maximum torque of 500 Newton meters. The 100 km/h mark is reached from a standing start in 7.3 seconds. GWM states consumption of 10.79 l/100 km. Due to the demanding use, the efforts of the drive penetrate the interior with a slight growl. When changing direction, the low weight on the front axle has a positive effect and even when we chase the off-road vehicle around the curves, it remains good-natured with the help of the control systems.
And this despite the fact that the body leans noticeably when changing direction due to the comfortable tuning. When cornering slowly, the 360-degree camera helps and fades in the vehicle’s surroundings. When it comes to driving programs, the Tank 500 offers everything your on- and off-road heart desires. On paved terrain, the range goes from an Eco to a Sport mode, where the drivetrain does its best, everything is there. We simply chose Auto mode. The all-wheel drive vehicle is also well equipped off-road: with a 4H scree mode, a sand and a snow program, among other things. In mud mode, the system keeps revs high to minimize the risk of engine stalling and consequent stalling.
When it comes to off-road details, the big brother, like the Tank 300, plays the off-road vehicle card: the Tank 500 is equipped with a central transfer case that decouples the front axle when required. The differential on the rear axle can be locked at the push of a button, a reduction is also on board, as is the tight corners button. If you operate this, the turning circle of the 4.76 meter long Tank 500 shrinks to 11.20 meters. The trick behind it is that the technicians simply block the inside rear wheel. With an approach angle of 29.6 degrees, a ramp angle of 24 degrees and a ground clearance of 22.4 centimetres, the tank can also handle larger obstacles. We like it, the Tank 500, but it is not yet clear whether the all-terrain vehicle from the Middle Kingdom will also come to Europe.
I’m a recent graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism. I started working as a news reporter for 24 Hours World about two years ago, and I’ve been writing articles ever since. My main focus is automotive news, but I’ve also written about politics, lifestyle, and entertainment.