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Haval's Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, Ford Everest rival edges closer to Australian introduction GWM looks to expand its SUV line-up with Tank 300

Smooth boxy retro lines hide a proper body-on-frame 4x4 off-roader, while the cabin has been clearly inspired by Mercedes-Benz.

Great Wall Motors (GWM) Australia appears to be getting closer to launching its first proper competitor against the bestselling Toyota LandCruiser Prado with the eagerly-awaited Haval Tank 300.

With its neat yet chunky design boasting big wheelarches, massive ground clearance and a rugged, go-anywhere attitude, it is clear that the medium-sized 4x4 wagon is at the very top of GWM’s wishlist for Australia.

Speaking to CarsGuide, Haval/GWM Australia head of marketing and communications Steve Maciver said the desire to determine the right vehicles for this market has really picked up pace over the past few months, as the two brands boost their presence with models that people actually want.

“We are looking at other SUV options and other things available (abroad) that we’ve been asked to take a look at,” he revealed. “Two of those cars you may have heard of – one called the Big Dog (a Toyota RAV4-sized, retro-looking family-orientated medium SUV) and the other the Tank 300.

“We have already done a little bit of customer research to try and work out where demand may sit. We’re working with head office on it. We haven’t decided yet whether we’ll bring those cars to market or not, or even if they’re even right for this market, but it is something we are looking at.”

Mr Maciver reiterated that GWM is a lean and flexible organisation that is wholly committed to offering vehicles that Australians want.

“This company – from a research and development capability perspective – is able to react way more quickly than any other car company I've ever experienced,” he said “So, if they set their mind to doing something, they can do it double quick time. So, the product portfolio evolves really, really quickly.

“Whether we will take on the Tank 300 sitting up at that larger end of the SUV market as well, I can’t confirm. But SUV and light commercial/ute is where the focus is and stays.”

The Tank 300 is precisely what the market is crying out for right now, especially with restricted, Australia-only travel forcing families to take to the road instead of flying elsewhere come holiday time in an adventure/leisure vehicle.

With its medium-to-large sized proportions and body-on-frame construction, the Haval offers the potential to steal sales from 4x4 vehicles as diverse as the Toyota Fortuner, Suzuki Jimny, Ford Ranger Raptor and Chevrolet Silverado.

Tipping the scales at between 2075-2150kg, the Tank 300 is slightly shorter but taller than the outgoing Jeep Grand Cherokee at 4760mm long, 1930mm wide and 1903mm high, and sits on a 2750mm wheelbase. Suspension is by double wishbones up front and a multi-link non-independent arrangement out back.

Reflecting its off-road ambitions, three grades are offered in China – Explorer, Challenger and Conqueror.

To that end, the Haval includes six drive modes (going from rear-wheel drive 2WD to 4WD High or Low range with a trio of diff locks as required), as well as a rock-creep mode and up to 224mm of ground clearance thanks to height-adjustable suspension on some grades.

As the Wey Tank 300 in its home market, motivation comes courtesy of a 170kW/387Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, driving either the rear or all four wheels via an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. It is capable of 0-100km/h in 9.5 seconds flat on the way to a 170km/h V-max, as well as a combined fuel consumption figure of 9.3L/100km.

For greater economy, a 135kW/480Nm 2.4-litre four-pot turbo-diesel utilising a nine-speed auto is also available in some markets, while a 375kW V6 twin-turbo plug-in hybrid is reportedly in the pipeline, employing an electric motor for a total of 750Nm.

Still on technology, a full suite of driver-assist safety systems is available, while an elongated central touchscreen and turbine-style circular vents that are extremely like the latest Mercedes-Benz A-Class’ define the five-seater interior.

In China, the Tank 300 comes with some bold advertising claims, describing it as “fully armed, grand slam, hard-core, off-road equipment…”, offering a “golden power combo and nine driving modes and three off-road weapons… in one hardcore chassis”.

Tank 300 indeed. If you love what you see, write to GWM Australia and let them know right now!