REVIEW: GWM’s new Tank 300 hybrid impresses with its performance and 4x4 tech

Published Feb 27, 2024


GWM’s new Tank 300 might not be in a position to destroy rivals such as the Toyota Fortuner just yet, but it is poised to make 4x4 enthusiasts sit up and take notice.

GWM’s Haval brand already dominates the Toyota Rav4’s turf with its H6, and the Jolion is a strong seller at the affordable end of the SUV market, but with the new Tank brand the Chinese carmaker is aiming right at the heart of the body-on-frame 4x4 market.

As we reported in our pricing story last week, the Tank 300 is stickered from R725,950 to R775,950 in 2.0 turbopetrol guise, and you can get it as a 2.0T hybrid for R851,950.

At the local launch event held in Limpopo recently GWM’s Chief Operations Officer Conrad Groenewald said the company had set a conservative sales estimate of around 1,800 to 2,000 units per year, which equates to about 150 to 170 units per month.

But this segment is dominated by diesel power and at this stage there is no word on when an oil burning Tank 300 might become available.

Groenewald said the importer would really like to offer a diesel engine locally, but a business case would need to be made to the Chinese parent company by markets such as ours and others that are big on diesel, such as Australia. Should this succeed, the company’s upcoming 2.4-litre turbodiesel would be the preferred option, Groenewald said.

Right now the Chinese brand’s international focus is very much on new energy vehicles, and on that note the launch route gave us plenty of time with the new Tank 300 hybrid model.

This ‘new energy vehicle’ boasts system outputs of 255kW and 648Nm, by pairing a 2.0-litre turbopetrol engine (180kW and 380Nm) with an electric motor rated at 78kW and 268Nm. Power goes to all four wheels through a torque-on-demand four-wheel drive system and nine-speed hydraulic automatic gearbox.

The non-hybrid 2.0 turbopetrol models will become available in March, with outputs of 162kW and 380Nm. Here you get a more traditional part-time 4WD system with an eight speed autobox.

The first leg of the launch took us out to the Monate Lodge in Limpopo, on a long highway stretch followed by about 15km of dirt road.

In a segment dominated by clattery diesels, this turbopetrol hybrid offers a comparatively quiet and smooth driving experience.

And did I mention it’s pretty damn fast?

However this hybrid is more about performance than economy and on the open road we struggled to keep it below the 10 litre per 100km mark, even with the Eco mode activated, which locks the vehicle in rear-wheel drive mode. The Tank’s blocky aerodynamics probably don’t help in that regard.

Considering the latter, the wind noise wasn’t too bad and my driving partner and I were impressed with the Tank’s ride comfort. There was a slight jitteriness to the suspension at times, but not to the point where comfort was affected. While its all-round road manners are perhaps not in the same league as the new, and much more expensive, Ford Everest, I’d say the Chinese newcomer is above average in its segment.

Exterior design and cabin

After arriving at the Monate lodge, which has a beautiful valley lookout and in-cave dining experience, we got to take a closer look at the exterior and interior of the Tank 300.

Its exterior appearance makes no bones about its bundu-bashing intentions. There’s a hint of Jeep Cherokee in its squared off shape and perhaps a little Hummer, even Ssangyong Korando, in its front and rear styling. But it doesn’t look like any of its current rivals and surely that’s a selling point.

Inside there’s been a very deliberate attempt to make it look upscale with quilted leather seats, standard across the line-up, as well as plenty of satin chrome bits and aeronautical circular air vents. But many of the plastic bits, particularly around the middle of the dashboard do look a little low rent - not that it bothers us too much in a ‘proper 4x4’ like this.

Besides, the Tank hasn’t gone overly electronic on us. There is a dual-screen set-up for the infotainment and driving data but most of the important functions, including climate control, can still be controlled via traditional buttons.

The cabin and boot offer adequate space for a family of five but keep in mind that unlike its rivals the Tank 300 is not a seven seater. Whether that matters to most buyers in the segment is a moot point however.

How capable is the Tank 300 off-road?

The next day was set aside for some fun in the bush and for this GWM had hired out the somewhat challenging De Wild 4x4 trail near Hartbeespoort Dam for us to put the hybrid models to the test.

Although it doesn’t have a traditional part-time 4WD configuration, the hybrid’s electronically managed “all-time” system does come with low range as well as an electronically controlled rear diff lock.


Read more about the new Tank 300 on IOL Motoring.

♬ original sound - car stories

The launch cars sailed through many challenging obstacles at De Wild, including numerous axle twisters and the infamous “Gert se Klip”, a rocky incline of at least 30 degrees.

At no point did we feel let down by the 4x4 hardware available and there is plenty of modern technology to make life easier. This includes Tank Turn functionality, which locks the inside back wheel to facilitate tight turns, Crawl Control Operation, which is effectively a low-speed cruise control, and the Chassis View Camera, which uses the array of cameras and AI to give you a view of the terrain beneath and around the vehicle.


Although it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and its success will surely be hampered by a lack of diesel options, the Tank 300 is in many ways a breath of fresh air in its segment.

It’s not cheap, by GWM standards at least, but the level of performance and technology that it offers for the money is more than impressive. And keep in mind that a comparable Fortuner 4x4 model costs more than R900,000 these days.

IOL Motoring

Related Topics:

4x4car reviewsgwmsuv