TESTED: GWM P-Series LTD is moerse capable off the beaten track

Published Jul 7, 2023


When it comes to double cab bakkies South Africans are spoilt for choice and when GWM entered the market with their well-priced and even better specced P-Series, that really threw the cat among the pigeons.

We’re also a sucker for a good looking exterior and with the recent launch of the range topping P-Series LTD, GWM has done just that.

Bold and rugged is what we like and it does that very well.

The leisure market is a big industry locally and this offering that slots in above the LS and LT models, not only looks the part but backs it up practically as well.

They’ve added 18-inch Gloss Black rims shod with decent Cooper All Terrain tyres, black sports bar, a plastic bin liner, steel front and rear bumpers, more aggressive wheel arches and colour-coded door handles and side mirrors.

That may make it look pretty cool but they’ve gone a step further to ensure that there won’t be any qualms about taking it far off the beaten track. Watch it in action in the video below:

A snorkel, 4.2 ton T-Max winch, steel rock sliders, 12V accessory connector in the engine bay, 120W 220V inverter next to the rear USB port and unusual for a standard bakkie, a front differential lock to go with the rear one.

We did a quick sum while on the road, and if you had to purchase the practical additions separately it would quickly add up to well above R70 000, before fitment.

The rest of the P-series work on a torque on demand four wheel drive system but for the LTD, GWM has installed a newly-developed system that offers 2H, 4H, 4L, Mud, Sand and Snow modes.

In addition to Cross Country Expert Mode, when you hold the traction control button down for a few seconds it locks the centre diff, it's also fitted with Offroad Cruise Control, an Offroad Thermal Management system and Trail Turn Assist that decreases the turning circle by three metres when you’re in a tight obstacle.

It uses the same 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine with 120kW and 400Nm that’s coupled to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.

The plush interior punches well above its weight with electrically adjustable heated leather seats, brushed aluminium, seven-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless charger and a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system that is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.

Talking about the touchscreen, as with many cars nowadays almost all settings are done via this which can end up to be frustrating, especially when driving as was the case with the heated seat temperature settings that revert to the screen.

Also, the lane keep assist and lane departure warning (set on the screen) default to maximum every time the vehicle is switched off so after you have set it to your preferred choice you have to reset it every time you climb in.

It also has every safety system you could imagine and then some.

I’ve read various comments on the P-Series’ ride quality and to be honest it’s not all that bad and like many leaf-sprung ladder frame bakkies it’s a bit skittish unloaded, but the LTD has a specific target market and they’ll in probability fit a decent canopy with accessories which will go a long way to improving the ride.

Having a car on test with all the off-road goodies means we like to take it to see how capable it is in the real world, so we took it to an off-road track outside Brits that has some very decent obstacles.

After airing down the tyres and a few quizzical looks from the traditional bakkie and 4x4 brigade we headed to the axle twister section.

I found though that with the tyres down to 1.5 bar, the tyre pressure monitor flashes constantly and try as I might I could not get it to go away.

The P-Series LTD has a ground clearance of 232mm, which isn’t top of the pile and over a few dirt speed bumps it would scrape the underbody protection.

It means you have to choose your lines very carefully or pack rocks because when you have double lockers you can tame some very gnarly terrain.

The car ahead of us fitted with impressively large tyres but a malfunctioning rear locker couldn’t get past the second dip on the obstacle so I was a bit wary of what lay ahead.

The locker engages quickly with a push of the button and slowly going forward I managed to get to the top without any fuss.

Throttle calibration is a bit sticky so it was sometimes difficult to maintain a smooth constant speed but I’m sure a software tweak would sort that out.

There were a few scrapes and crunches from the rock sliders which turned out to be the mounting brackets rather than the actual sliders, so essentially it was doing what they were designed to do.

From there I did only the toughest challenges, first with the rear locker and then with both engaged, just because I could.

On an obstacle called “Gert se Klip”, a very steep rocky climb, the front had to be engaged and it climbed up without a single squeal or spin from the tyres.

“I’ve seen every make of 4x4 fail to get up there over the years,” said a regular in a massively kitted Cruiser. “That was mighty impressive.”

I’d like to think that the driver also played a role despite my partner’s saucepan eyes on the ascent.

The 360 degree surround camera also comes in handy when the bonnet obscures your view on a steep ascent.

It’s quite cool when you’re driving a car people have only heard of and are curious to see in action so they let you go ahead to spectate.

A church group out for a day of sun and dust watched me tackle a particularly narrow ascent with loose rocks just after one of their members had to make four different attempts to get to the top.

Careful driving saw us crest without a problem.

One guy was so impressed that he came over to tell me he has been toying with the idea of buying a P-Series for a while but seeing the LTD in the metal had made up his mind.

There’s another sale to their 500 plus units they currently sell every month.

On our way home we stopped to buy a bakkie load of wood, because you know, braai and winter, and discovered the handy fold-out step built into the tailgate which creaky knees really appreciated.

Chinese brands are now associated with very decent build quality, loaded with an extremely high level of standard equipment as well as providing decent value for money.

This P-Series LTD is all of that plus it will get you to places very far from the madding crowd and at R694 950 it is a strong value proposition.

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