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GWM Tank 500 2024 review

Daniel Gardner

Expensive GWM or bargain seven-seater? GWM’s Tank 500 takes another shot at premium SUV territory

Good points

  • Powerful drivetrain
  • Seven-year warranty and roadside assistance
  • Surprisingly good ride
  • Spacious cabin
  • Affordable (but an expensive GWM)
  • Generous standard equipment

Needs work

  • Electric-petrol handover can be clunky
  • ADAS needs refinement
  • Third row only accessible from traffic side
  • Too many controls buried in touchscreen
  • Mysterious dash rattle
  • A few tech gremlins

For a long while, my favourite vehicle to emerge from any Chinese challenger brands’ stables was the Haval H9. Here was a large, seven-seat SUV that was good to drive, offered a compelling standard equipment list and all at a bargain price.

The truth was, however, that the reason the H9 was so good is that the Chinese automotive industry is a master of reverse engineering and the H9 felt suspiciously like a Toyota Prado in many ways – not a bad thing, but certainly no miracle.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 rear 3/4

Now though, the GWM/Haval family can once again offer a large seven-seat SUV – the Tank 500 – and things have come a long way. Nearly 10 years since the H9 rolled out, the company is now doing many things its own way, including its approach to infotainment, drivetrains and technology.

With a revamped identity, a long list of kit and sharp driveaway pricing, the new flagship to the GWM range is offering a huge amount of car for the cash, but how that translates in practice will be key to Tank 500’s reception.

What are the Tank 500’s features and options for the price?

Two variants are on offer from launch with one shared drivetrain. Opening the line-up is the Tank 500 Lux which has an asking price of $66,490 driveaway, while a Tank 500 Ultra is the second and most premium option, priced from $73,990 driveaway.

On initial inspection, those prices might not appear to live up to typical GWM bargain standards but it’s important to factor in three important elements.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 front 2

Firstly, driveaway pricing bundles in a good few grand that’s easy to forget until payday. A powerful but apparently efficient hybrid drivetrain is also part of the offering, which is often the exclusive domain of higher-grade variants of other model lineups.

And, finally, GWM has packed the 500 full of standard equipment for both versions.

Even at the entry level, the Lux has gear you’d normally have to scale the range a few spots to have included, such as proper four-wheel drive with locking rear diff, up to nine driving modes, a sunroof, all-LED lighting, heated and electrically adjustable front seats, all-digital displays, seven seats, lots of driver assistance systems and metallic paint.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 interior detail

Stepping up to the Ultra introduces a locking front diff, electrically extending/stowing side steps, a panoramic sunroof, head-up display, Nappa leather upholstery, nicer interior trims, ventilation for the four main front seats and heating for the second row, colour-changing ambient lighting, and power-folding third-row seats.

There’s also active noise cancellation to boost cabin comfort, light puddle welcoming lamps, a more premium sound system, and a soft-closing tailgate.

Both get GWM’s new ‘Care 777’ seven-year warranty, roadside assistance and fixed-price servicing combination as yet another deal sweetener.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 headlight 2

Then there’s the drivetrain. While some manufacturers flood their ranges with multiple engine options, GWM says it can cover most if not all bases with just one: a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder combined with hybrid electric assistance.

The result is an impressive 255kW and 648Nm, paired with a claimed 8.5L/100km fuel efficiency.

So while competitors such as Ford’s mid-range Everest Trend 4WD, the Isuzu MU-X and base Toyota Prado all have similar pricing, the Tank 500 offers an apparent value advantage over all.

How does the Tank 500 drive?

GWM’s turbo four-cylinder is a refined unit and pleasantly quiet at idle, becoming only marginally more vocal when asked to work.

This may be the effect of the active noise cancelling that’s standard in the Ultra but if this is the case, it’s one of the most seamless systems we’ve experienced. The strange aural numbness of some rival systems is thankfully absent.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 driving

Combined with four-wheel-drive traction, the hybrid/petrol combination provides excellent acceleration from a standing start but is less emotive once it’s up and running.

There’s more than enough performance for safe overtaking and we’re sure the 500 would cope well with a fully loaded cabin, but it’s not quite a sport hero just yet.

Nor can it claim to be an efficiency champ – actually, GWM says the hybridisation is focused on providing useful torque rather than fuel sipping frugality and to this end the drivetrain is a successful execution.

During our time with the Tank it used an indicated 12.3L/100km, which is respectable for a large SUV that tips the scales at 2605kg.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 driving rear

Despite the hefty kerb weight, the 500 can be hustled along with some gusto and has a knack of hiding its velocity with a soft ride and good insulation from outside noises and road damage. The ride is surprisingly good and, combined with the solemn cabin, it’s a quiet achiever.

A light steering feel continues the same theme with effortless manoeuvring and decent precision but all with a focus on comfort and civility rather than outright athleticism – something Mazda could have done with a greater share of in the tuning of its CX-90.

There’s an occasional strange clunkiness in the handover between electric and petrol power, but the in-house made nine-speed automatic transmission is suitable redemption, with accomplished shift smoothness and calibration.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 driving front

The only real blot for a driving perspective is the brake pedal that has the excessive squashiness and disappointingly reminiscent of the earliest hybrids. There’s a lot of pedal travel and little progressiveness as the regenerative braking stage is stabbed through to actual hydraulics.

It’s a more relaxing experience for other occupants, with excellent outward viewing of the surroundings and a comfortable, quiet experience regardless of the terrain.

Speaking of which, we missed out on a chance to appropriately test the Tank 500’s off-road ability on this occasion.

Disappointing as it’s equipped with both front- and rear-locking diffs, a proper transfer case provided by Borg Warner, and five out of the nine driving modes are dedicated to off-road business.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 driving off road

It seemed that even the Tank wanted to hit the trail as much as we did, once randomly engaging Sand mode by itself when driving on a regular highway.

The odd gremlin aside, we can’t wait to give the 500 a proper off-road test as it certainly has promise when the sealed road comes to an end, with 800mm of wading depth, a 30-degree approach angle and 224mm of ground clearance to name a few compelling statistics.

There’s also full-fat 3500kg towing capacity with a braked trailer too.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 driving off road rear 2

While GWM has gone to lengths to pack as much driver assistance and safety systems into the 500, there are still a few refinements necessary to make everything work as well as near rivals.

While much improved, the lane departure warning still gives frequent false alarms, while the steering wheel continues to tug suddenly at the wheel, especially on unsealed roads. It’s a mystery as to what the system is using as a reference for the limits of the road and its edges.

The camera-based driver monitoring system was also far too enthusiastic, telling our driver that he should take a rest four times only 20 minutes into the test drive.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 driving off road front

Meanwhile, the adaptive cruise control applied needlessly aggressive braking for only minor changes in the traffic situation.

There’s plenty of good though. The system to monitor surrounding road users was very effective and accurate and has a Tesla-esque appearance and smoothness to it. The 360-degree camera works impressively and there are some brilliant semi-autonomous self parking/manoeuvring features.

What is the Tank 500’s interior and tech like?

Technology and luxury at bargain prices are exactly what GWM is pitching as the leader in its value proposition. On paper, at least, there appears to be a lot to be liked here.

The cabin is impressive with a complex quilting pattern on the comfortable seats. There’s also a vast 14.6-inch central media screen that is imposing in the right way, complemented by the 12.3-inch instrument cluster.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 interior
GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 interior screen

We’d like a little more in the way of customisation options with the latter but the graphics and general appearance of the displays and interior generally are well presented.

Materials are also good in appearance and feel premium and, aside from a strange buzzing rattle that developed in the dashboard, everything seems well screwed together.

The levels of standard equipment can’t be argued with and touches such as heated steering wheel and heating and ventilation for the front two rows is unheard of in this price bracket.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 interior stereo
GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 detail

We particularly liked the cool T-shaped key, sharp and punchy Infinity sound system and ambient lighting that filters through the entire cabin.

But while the kit is all there, there’s still a bit to be done in functionality, including the heating and ventilation controls which are buried in virtual menus and touchscreen controls…when you can find them (interestingly the rear seats have their own climate panel with physical switches).

And there’s no volume knob, making a rapid silencing of annoying adverts or terrible music impossible.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 interior

However, GWM has made steady improvements to the information and entertainment systems and the latest version is more consistent, easier to use and lacks some of the more amusing language translation faux pas the marque’s systems once had.

There is, however, still a little character, shall we say?

Where GWM is bang up to the minute however, is in its own connected smartphone application.

The system allows Tank 500 owners to access vehicle functions remotely including access, climate control activation, seat heating and cooling, window opening, flashing headlights to locate in busy car parks and even geofencing to prevent the vehicle being driven outside a predetermined area.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 interior back seats

GWM will also offer new features later with over-the-air updates.

Space is not a problem in the GWM’s cabin, with a generous second row of seating in all dimensions, while the only packaging anomaly in the front is an intrusion into the footwells from the transmission tunnel, which spoils an otherwise completely flat floor.

At the back, the 500’s boot is voluminous with up to 795 litres of space when seats six and seven are stowed away, and up to 1459L with the second row folded. Unfortunately they don’t fold completely flat with a rising slope from the boot entry to the front seats will limit cargo possibilities.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 interior 3rd row seats

Also, with the third row of seats in place, the boot shrinks to below 100 litres, which is small. And although we like the operation of the side-hinged barn-door style tailgate, its sheer width (and the full-size spare wheel mounted on the outside) might cause problems in tight parking spots.

Such is the compromise of fitting a hefty gate-mounted spare.

Finally, while the third row of seating can accommodate adults, it’s only with the second row comfort and position compromised, while loading the rearmost seats with the clever tilt-and-slide mechanism is only possible on the driver side, which means you’ll be getting passengers in and out on the traffic side if parked on the side of the road.

Is the Tank 500 a safe car?

Ostensibly, yes. The Tank 500 has a plethora of safety assistance systems with both passive and active technology well represented including seven airbags, seatbelt pretensioners for the rear seats, level-two autonomous capability, and high-strength steel construction, to name a selection.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 side 2

However, the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has not yet tested the Tank 500. GWM says it is planning to evaluate the model and is “confident in the result we are going to get”

“We should achieve five stars,” GWM says.

What are the Tank 500’s ownership costs?

At the time of writing, GWM hadn’t yet made available the various costs of Tank 500 ownership including scheduled servicing although, with the introduction of the model, the company has introduced its Care 777 plan.

This offers the regular seven-year warranty, but adds to it with roadside assistance and capped price servicing extended from five to seven years as well.

With the purchase of a new Tank 500, two years of internet connectivity is included allowing the full suite of internet connected features made possible by the standard embedded sim. That said, GWM has not yet confirmed how much it’ll cost to continue the internet subscription once the two free years lapse.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 wheel spare

As for fuel consumption, GWM claims its newest model can use as little as 8.5L/100km, which might be possible with a very light toe. In our testing, we managed a best figure of 12.3L/100km and more vigorous driving over more challenging terrain increased that figure to 14.0L/100km.

With 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, the Tank 500 has enough flexible sidewall in its tyres to allow more adventurous off-road use, as well as more affordable replacement tyres when the time comes – and more options if you wanted to fit something other than the original brand.

The honest verdict on the Tank 500

From an imitator of others and a challenger through synthesis, the modern GWM couldn’t be more different from past models, and the company is finding its own identity and confidence to try something new.

It might have some way to go in its evolution before it can share the limelight with other success stories such as Kia and Hyundai, but GWM is making incremental steps in the right direction and the Tank 500 is at the forefront of that progress.

GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid 2024 driving off road 3

Already, the large SUV is showing improvements over the next most-recent introduction – the Tank 300 – and this bigger sibling is easier to recommend on the things that are included for a relatively high price rather than the stuff that’s left out for a lower one.

Not only does the Tank 500 offer a decent standard equipment bundle with features that are not just lures in the pages of a brochure, it’s hitting hard with a powerful drivetrain that’s unique to the segment and long warranty that can only be taken as a statement of confidence.

There is still work to be done in the fields of driver assistance and fine-tuning of engine and hybrid system calibration, but the latest GWM deserves consideration in Australia’s competitive seven-seat market with a package that compromises less and offers more than ever before.

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