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The most advanced Chinese utes ever are coming: How Great Wall and LDV have the new Toyota HiLux in their sights

A wave of new utes is on its way to Australia.

The battle to win your hard-earned ute dollar will only intensify this year, with as many as five new dual-cabs - including the Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navara, Great Wall Cannon, Mazda BT-50 and Isuzu D-Max - all set to arrive in Australia before the end of the year.

And while Japan traditionally dominates Australia’s ute sales, relative newcomers from China are readying their most promising assault to date on our market.

Here’s how they stack up. 

The most advanced Chinese utes ever are coming: How Great Wall and LDV have the new Toyota HiLux in their sights

Great Wall Cannon - Q4 2020

The Cannon was expected to arrive in Australia as early as this month, but the pandemic is understood to have pushed those plans back.

Perhaps no other Chinese ute has taken the challenge it faces in Australia more seriously than Great Wall, with the brand’s executives making no secret of just who they’re targeting with their new dual-cab. 

Internationally, the brand says it intends for the Cannon to one day be seen in “god car” territory - alongside the Toyota HiLux for performance and reliability - while closer to home, the company’s Australian executives say the new model was benchmarked against both the HiLux and the Ranger for off-road capability.

The Cannon was expected to arrive in Australia as early as this month, but the pandemic is understood to have pushed those plans back. That said, we still expect what could be the most advanced Chinese ute to ever land here to touch down before the end of the year.

So, how will it compete?

While the Cannon’s diesel engine - a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel - will produce 120kW at 3600rpm and 400Nm at 1500rpm in international markets, we also know that those numbers likely won’t cut it in tow-tow-happy Australia.

And while Great Wall’s Australian executives remain coy on the exact numbers, we do expect those figures to increase significantly when the ute arrives here, likely to a torque figure of around 450Nm. That power will be fed through a choice of an eight-speed ZF automatic or a six-speed manual.

It’s also a whole lot of ute, measuring 5410mm in length, 1934mm in width and 1886mm in height, and riding on a 3230mm in wheelbase. That makes it longer, wider and taller than the Toyota HiLux, which measures 5330mm, 1855mm and 1815mm in SR5 guise. The Great Wall’s tray measures 1520mm/1520mm. The HiLux bed, for comparison, comes in at 1569mm/1645mm.

Expect the Cannon to tick the other dual-cab boxes, too, with the brand targeting “at least” a 1000kg payload and 3.5 tonne towing capacity. We’re also told that feedback from our market was instrumental to the global suspension tune the Cannon will get.

"Especially things like our corrugations, which they’re not familiar with,” Great Wall says. “And so we continue to work with head office on that. While it’s not a specific tune for Australia, it’s tuned with Australia in mind.”

There'll be plenty of kit on offer, too, like push-button start, smart headlights, a 9.0-inch touchscreen, a digital dashboard, leather trim options, and advanced active safety like AEB, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, active cruise, and a 360-degree parking camera, as well as six airbags.

Price? The Great Wall? That’s still a mystery. But we do know that the company knows it needs to be competitive.

“It will make a lot of people think why I am paying this amount of money for a ute, when someone like Great Wall can build something to this level of comfort and capability,” the brand has told us.

LDV T60 Twin-Turbo - Q4 2021

The Trailrider 2 has just been equipped with a new 2.0-litre turbo-diesel.

LDV is the other Chinese brand with its sights firmly set on increasing its footprint on the Australian market, so much so that the company’s local arm just rolled out a new, locally developed suspension tune across its ute range, beginning with the top-spec Trailrider but then filtering across the rest of the range.

But the news around the T60 doesn’t stop there, with the ute range set to undergo some serious engine surgery this year and next.

The Trailrider 2 has just been equipped with a new 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel that produces 120kW and 375Nm, a sizeable jump from the 110kW and 360Nm on offer from the 2.8-litre engine that is still fitted to the rest of the lineup.

And much like the local suspension tune, that engine will soon filter across the rest of the T60 range, with new turbo power coming to every ute in the lineup, most likely before the end of 2020.

But wait, there's more, with LDV also readying another new engine, this time a Ford Ranger Raptor-style twin-turbo diesel that will see the power jump yet again.

The twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel should up the grunt to around 160kW and 480Nm - near enough bang-on what’s expected from a top-tier ute in Australia, and while LDV is yet to confirm timing, we’d expect to see it arrive toward the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022.

LDV T60

LDV T60
3.6
From
$28,411
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)