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2021 GWM Ute Cannon single-cab off-road edition detailed: Could this short-wheelbase pick-up be Great Wall's answer to the Ranger Raptor?

Could this fun-looking single-cab Cannon shortie be the Chinese brand's answer to the Ranger Raptor?

Great Wall has revealed a tough new take on its Cannon ute in its home market of China, a singe-cab, short-wheelbase hero with an off-road-focus, which puts it in the sights of the Ford Ranger Raptor.

This shortie special is quite a heavy rework of the Cannon ute, with the wheelbase cropped from the standard 3230mm to a much tighter 2745mm, complete with a 249mm ground clearance, 34-degree approach angle and 26-degree departure angle.

While it has a tighter wheelbase, the overall length of the Cannon has not changed, still at 5437mm, although it has a new suspension system with nitrogen shock absorbers, as well as a new wheel and all-terrain tyre package (BF Goodrich KO2s by the look of them), which make the ute 102mm wider and 100mm taller overall.

Pumped guards, new bumpers, a snorkel kit, and what appears to be an integrated winch kit also add to the short-wheelbase Cannon’s off-road chops, alongside a roller cover and electrical outlets in the tub.

GWM Australia has said in the past it understands the desire for off-road halo variants. GWM Australia has said in the past it understands the desire for off-road halo variants.

In its home market of China, this new short-wheelbase off-road edition wears a price tag equivalent to A$35,575, which for context is equivalent to the cost of an equivalent high-spec Cannon-X in China’s home market. The Cannon-X in Australia costs $40,990 driveaway.

It’s worth noting that all Cannons headed to Australia are equipped with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel (120kW/400Nm) and an eight-speed ZF torque-converter automatic, but this short-wheelbase version has been revealed only with the Chinese-market 2.0-litre turbo-petrol capable of producing 160kW/380Nm.

According to Chinese media, the short-wheelbase off-roader adds a front diff-lock to the standard rear one, and has a total of seven off-road driving modes programmed to the auto transmission. Great Wall Cannon models have a permanent all-wheel drive system and electronically selectable low-range mode.

Should it arrive in Australia, the just-revealed short-wheelbase off-roader would be quite a unique offering, with halo utes like the Ranger Raptor ($77,690 MSRP), Mazda BT-50 Thunder ($68,990), HiLux Rugged X ($64,490), and new VW Amarok W580 ($71,990) all being offered in dual-cab guise.

A dual-cab version of this spec has also existed in China for some time, complete with the shocks, guards, tyres and off-road enhancements, based on the ‘Black Bullet’ concept Cannon shown in Beijing in 2020.

Wider, tougher, and with a shorter wheelbase, this could be the Raptor rival GWM needs. Wider, tougher, and with a shorter wheelbase, this could be the Raptor rival GWM needs.

GWM Australia head of marketing Steve Maciver told CarsGuide earlier in 2021 that “there might be opportunities” beyond the current top-spec Cannon-X, given the encouraging response to the initial batch of Cannon arrivals.

CarsGuide has approached GWM Australia for further comment on the reveal of the single-cab off-road special.

A non-hardcore, more work-oriented single-cab chassis version of the Cannon is also understood to be in the works, perhaps as a replacement for the dated Steed which the Cannon is currently sold alongside, although the brand is yet to confirm it for an Australian launch.