2024 GWM Tank 300 Ultra Hybrid review: Australian first drive

17 minutes, 47 seconds Read

How does adding a hybrid to the characterful GWM Tank 300 family 4WD change its performance and appeal, and does going hybrid dilute any of its off-road ability?

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What we love
  • Tonka toy styling
  • Razor-sharp price, even with ‘hybrid tax’
  • Delightful car to drive
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What we don’t
  • Low back seat compromises comfort, boot is small for the car’s size
  • $9K extra for a powertrain option is hard to swallow
  • Overzealous active-safety nannies

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2024 GWM Tank 300 Ultra Hybrid

I remember when calling a car a tank was a bad thing. Not anymore. 

Meet the Tank 300 from Great Wall Motors. It’s a Chinese-built, retro-styled, rugged off-roader with seats for five and a razor-sharp retail price. It’s like a Suzuki Jimny for grown-ups or a Mercedes G-Wagen for the budget-conscious.

This petrol/electric hybrid variant has just hit showrooms, and we have two questions: what kind of a hybrid is it, and does going hybrid dilute any of its off-road ability?

How much does the GWM Tank 300 cost in Australia?

The GWM Tank 300 is a loner, but it won’t be that way for long. GWM plans to introduce a Ford Everest-sized Tank 500 and possibly a Tank 700 LandCruiser rival to Australia in the next year or two, which puts this Tank 300 at the smaller end of the family numerically – and in size, performance and price. 

The Tank 300 isn’t small, though. For scale, it is slightly bigger than the Mitsubishi Outlander medium SUV (the Tank 300’s boxy body is 5cm longer, 7cm wider and 16cm taller).

There are four variants of the GWM Tank 300: two that aren’t hybrids and two that are.

The GWM Tank 300 Hybrid is available in two equipment grades, Lux and Ultra, just like the non-hybrid Tank 300. The Lux Hybrid costs $55,990 and the Ultra Hybrid costs $60,990, including all on-road costs.

That makes the GWM Tank 300 Hybrid version up to $10,000 dearer than the non-hybrid version. 

Plus, if you choose the Pearl White of our test car – or any colour other than Fossil Grey – you’ll pay another $595. 

Standard equipment on all GWM Tank grades includes a sunroof, roof rails and alloy wheels – 17s on the 300 Lux and 18s on the 300 Ultras. Our test car wore Michelin Primacy SUV tyres (265/60 R18) with a very on-road-biased tread. Anyone considering going off-road regularly should consider all-terrain tyres at a minimum.

The Tank’s off-road cred comes courtesy of a proper four-wheel-drive system with nine terrain modes, up to two locking differentials and a transfer case for low-range gearing. The Tank has good ground clearance and decent approach and departure angles. It also has underbody protection for when that ground clearance isn’t enough.

Key details 2024 GWM Tank 300 Ultra Hybrid
Price $60,990 drive-away
Colour of test car Pearl White
Options Premium colour – $595
Price as tested $61,585 drive-away
Rivals Jeep Wrangler | Ford Everest | Suzuki Jimny

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How much space does the GWM Tank 300 have inside?

The GWM Tank 300 Hybrid’s five-door, five-seat body size puts it between the Mitsubishi Outlander and the Ford Everest for size. Unlike those two, it’s a pure five-seater with no seven-seat capability. 

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The interior is very much in keeping with the car’s rugged exterior styling. A leather-like material covers the seats and doors, highlighted with white stitching. A weird black woodgrain on the dash works surprisingly well, as do shiny chrome air vent surrounds and speaker covers. 

The front seats both adjust electrically and are very comfortable. The driver’s seat provides a good driving position, although the steering wheel doesn’t come close enough for my liking. Getting in and out of the high cabin is made somewhat easier by side steps, but it would be better again if the driver’s side A-pillar had a grab handle like the passenger’s side does. 

All in all, the Tank’s cabin makes a very strong first impression and continues to deliver as you interact with it, unlike some other Chinese-made cars. 

The Tank’s interior is not perfect. For example, the back seat base is too close to the floor, which robs occupants of under-thigh support, but at least it gives plenty of head room and leg room for adults, along with two air vents and two USB ports, and a fold-down armrest with built-in cupholders. 

Standard equipment on all GWM Tank grades includes faux leather interior trim and steering wheel, dual-zone climate-control air conditioning, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and two 12.3-inch digital screens – one for the driver’s instrument cluster and a second for infotainment – laid side by side to give the appearance of one mega screen. 

The more expensive Ultra grade we tested here gets a wireless phone charger, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, eight-way adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar adjust, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto.

Strangely, there are some equipment inconsistencies in the range. For example, both Ultras have driving position memory, but only the Ultra Hybrid remembers wing mirror positions. The Ultra Hybrid is the only one with a reversing tracking assistant and auto parking assist. Those two functions are presumably tied to the Ultra Hybrid’s six front and six rear parking sensors, whereas the other three variants (Lux, Lux Hybrid, Ultra) only have four sensors front and four rear.  

Other anomalies include DAB+ digital radio, auto up/down windows on all four doors (not just the driver’s door), and child occupant awareness in the second row – all features found in hybrid models only. This may be GWM’s way of further justifying the hybrids’ steep price premium.

Moving to the boot now. The tailgate opens to the side like a barn door rather than upwards like most tailgates. This is so that the full-size spare tyre can be mounted on the boot, a position favoured by off-roaders because it improves underbody ground clearance. 

It does make the door heavier to open, and locking it in the open position means rotating the damper. Space-wise, the boot is an adequate 400 litres but not as big as the car’s overall size would suggest. It also has a very high floor, making lifting heavy loads inside a little bit harder. 

The boot has tie-down points and shopping hooks as well as a 12V charger for a car fridge or the like. The back seats are split-fold (60/40) to provide more cargo space. 

It’s worth knowing that the GWM Tank 300 has an approved Gross Vehicle Mass (maximum operating weight) of 2552kg, which is 397kg above its kerb weight without occupants or luggage. In other words, it is only rated to carry 397kg worth of passengers and luggage. How much does your family weigh? (Apologies if that’s impolite.)

The heavier Tank 300 Hybrid weighs 2305kg and has a GVM of 2725kg, giving it a marginally better payload of 420kg. But again, that’s not much for a car with lifestyle and off-road aspirations. If you put four adult males in the car, you’ll have nothing left for luggage in the boot, on the roof racks, or bikes on the back. Bear that in mind. 

2024 GWM Tank 300 Ultra Hybrid
Seats Five
Boot volume 400L
Length 4760mm
Width 1930mm
Height 1903mm
Wheelbase 2750mm

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Does the GWM Tank 300 have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

All Tank 300 variants get a 12.3-inch colour infotainment display equipped with AM/FM radio, Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone mirroring, satellite navigation and various other car-related functions. Hybrid variants get DAB+ digital radio as well.

Pleasingly, interacting with the many screens is straightforward and logical – which is not something you can always say about cars from China. The prevalence of poorly translated English is minimal, too, which suggests GWM is getting more thorough with its regional prep.

We had a few separate instances where Android Auto refused to respond to finger touches, primarily in Google Maps and Spotify. We experienced this while the transmission was in drive and also park, to no avail. Rebooting the car (and therefore AA) fixed it each time.

There are two USB ports up front and another two in the rear, plus the Ultra grade gets a wireless phone charging mat. 

A second 12.3-inch screen does the job of the driver’s instrument cluster. 

A nine-speaker sound system is standard on all variants. The Ultra grade gets an Infinity-branded sound system with silver drilled speaker covers that visually mimic the premium audio options found in European cars, with Benz’s Burmester, or BMW’s Bang & Olufsen speaker grilles. 

The GWM Tank 300’s menu system suggests that the car has the capacity for over-the-air updates, making it easy for GWM to fix any glitches and potentially recalibrate overzealous active safety systems on the fly. Right now OTA functionality is on GWM’s ‘coming soon’ list, and isn;t active in Australia at present.

Similarly, there is no mobile phone app to go with the GWM Tank 300 at the time of writing. As connectivity in vehicles comes online, expect a remote access app to follow.

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Is the GWM Tank 300 a safe car?

The 2023 GWM Tank 300 scored a five-star ANCAP rating in 2022, inherited by the Tank 300 Hybrid. 

The Tank 300 scored strongly in all four major measures: 88 per cent for Adult Occupant Protection, 89 per cent for Child Occupant Protection, 81 per cent for Vulnerable Road User Protection and 85 per cent for Safety Assist. 

The GWM Tank 300 comes with dual front airbags, front-side airbags, curtain airbags covering both rows, and a centre airbag between the front-seat occupants.

ISOFIX child seat mounts are fitted in both outboard back seats, and top tether anchors are in all three back seats.

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What safety technology does the GWM Tank 300 have?

The Tank 300 has a commendably long list of standard safety equipment – not just for the price but also in competitive terms. Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and intersection intervention, front collision warning, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and emergency lane-keeping are fitted to all variants.

Hybrid variants get two other safety boons: front cross-traffic alert with brake, and highway assist.

The Ultra Hybrid goes further by including reverse assist and auto parking assist – possible because it also has six front parking sensors and six at the rear instead of the four front and four rear fitted to the three other variants. 

A 360-degree view monitor is also standard, and the picture is of decent – if not high – quality.

It’s commendable how much active safety equipment GWM has included in even the cheapest Tank 300, but there is a difference between listing an active safety system on a brochure and making one that works well in the real world. See the Driving section below for more on this.

How much does the GWM Tank 300 cost to maintain?

The Tank 300 has a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, as well as a five-year roadside assist plan and eight years’ warranty coverage for the hybrid battery. 

Servicing intervals are every 12 months but it’s worth noting that the first visit is set at 10,000km, and each following service adopts a 15,000km interval. 

At the time of writing, servicing costs were not available for the Tank 300 Hybrid. The following prices are for non-hybrid variants and are provided as an indication only. 

There’s five years’ worth of capped-price servicing available costing a quite reasonable $1150 for the first three years. After five years that goes to $2000, which works out to be $400 per year.

Insurance for a Tank 300 Ultra Hybrid comes in at $2047 per year, which is just shy of $300 more than the Tank 300 Ultra non-hybrid quote we obtained last month. This quote is for comparative reasons only, and is based on a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.

At a glance 2024 GWM Tank 300 Ultra Hybrid
Warranty Seven years, unlimited km
Battery warranty Eight years
Service intervals First service at 12 months/10,000km
Subsequent services every 12 months/15,000km

Is the GWM Tank 300 fuel-efficient?

If you think a hybrid is all about saving fuel, you’d be right most of the time… except now. In our experience, GWM’s hybrids appear to prioritise additional performance and only yield modest fuel savings, if any.

The GWM Tank 300 Hybrid is no exception. Laughably, GWM claims the Tank Hybrid will average 8.4 litres per 100 kilometres on a combined city/highway cycle, which is 1.1L/100km less than the non-hybrid. During our three-day test, the hybrid averaged 12.0L/100km in urban driving and 11.4L/100km on the open road. 

That said, the GWM Tank 300 Hybrid can and does use its 1.8kWh electric battery and 78kW/268Nm electric motor to move the car at low speeds. 

Fuel Usage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 8.4L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 12.0L/100km
Fuel type 91-octane regular unleaded
Fuel tank size 75L

What is the GWM Tank 300 like to drive?

I will admit I had low expectations initially for the dynamic prowess and on-road refinement of the GWM Tank 300 Hybrid. It all seemed too good to be true based on the price, so I assumed corners would be cut. 

It turned out the Tank 300 far exceeded my expectations, and I really enjoyed driving it – mostly. 

The Tank 300 Hybrid is a composed and comfortable car to drive. Its powertrain is fruity yet relatively smooth, the steering is nicely weighted at both lower and higher speeds, and the suspension balances road-holding and occupant comfort well for a rugged off-roader.

There’s really nothing major to grumble about with the vehicle’s mechanicals in everyday driving. Anyone not used to riding in a proper off-roader may find the suspension’s initial bumpsoak a little lacking because it rides firmly and transmits smaller bumps to the occupants. 

Equally, the drivetrain’s refinement is not up there with Japanese hybrids. Initial take-off is firstly very slow to react but then is buttery smooth because the electric motor does all the work. But you can’t miss when the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine cuts in because it does thrum and vibrate. 

But still, acceleration is consistent, gear changes are handled without fuss, and the ride is not going to upset anyone. 

We didn’t get much opportunity to test the GWM Tank Hybrid’s off-road abilities during our 48-hour loan due to a four-day deluge that turned our favourite 4WD facility to clay and soup. We did try the Tank’s “Tank Turn” party trick, but it was not very effective. The Tank Turn is designed to let drivers execute tighter turns off-road by locking the inside rear wheel and forcing the car to effectively pivot around it. On a muddy surface the locked wheel failed to grip enough to tighten the turning circle to any appreciable degree.

We hope to get the GWM Tank 300 Hybrid back for a full seven-day test at a later date and we will put it through a proper off-road test.

My only real issue concerns the active safety systems, which are overzealous to the point of ridiculousness. Two systems in particular take the shine off what is otherwise a well-resolved car. Imagine, if you will, an overbearing mother-in-law in every seat, watching your every move and chiding you every single time you step out of line, or look like you’re heading that way.

The first bad nanny is emergency lane keeping (ELK), which beeps frantically if it senses the car straying within a foot of the lane markings, particularly on the right. Firstly, it goes ballistic on roads with narrow lanes like Melbourne’s West Gate Freeway and (presumably) every multi-lane road in Sydney. Secondly, of its three sensitivity settings, ‘low’ is still too sensitive, so I ended up turning it off. If you do too, you’ll need to turn it off every time you restart the car.

The other equally annoying system is Driver Monitoring Alert (which isn’t even listed in the spec sheet, but it’s there, trust me). A camera on the A-pillar between the windscreen and the driver’s door monitors the driver’s face and eyes, and every time it detects you looking away from the road ahead the system verbally scolds you: “Please concentrate while driving” or “Beware of the road and focus while driving”.

Looking in any of the three rear-view mirrors is sometimes enough to trigger its ire, as is adjusting anything on the infotainment touchscreen. Dare to yawn and it will tell you to take a break, even if you’ve just started your early morning commute.

This nanny can also be turned off, and thankfully stays turned off from one drive to the next. Or at least it did in our test car.

Key details 2024 GWM Tank 300 Ultra Hybrid
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol hybrid
Power 180kW @ 5500–6000rpm petrol
78kW electric
255kW combined
Torque 380Nm @ 1700–4000rpm petrol
268Nm electric
648Nm combined
Drive type Part-time four-wheel drive
Transmission 9-speed torque converter automatic
Power-to-weight ratio 110.6kW/t
Weight (kerb) 2305kg
Spare tyre type Full-size
Tow rating 2500kg braked
750kg unbraked
Turning circle 12.0m (normal mode)

Should I buy a GWM Tank 300?

If GWM can improve the active safety systems’ calibration, then I would unreservedly recommend the GWM Tank 300 Hybrid. It is a convincing car that is fun to drive, full of character and has a bargain-basement price. 

Yes, it’s a hybrid that won’t save you much fuel, but neither does it use much more than the non-hybrid variant and it has considerably more punch. 

Now, those overzealous active-safety nannies. If you don’t mind paying for a car with two minor systems that you’ll need to disable to enjoy more, then go for it. Hopefully, if and when GWM improves the calibration in future, it tells owners so you can enable them again.

As for ‘to hybrid or not to hybrid?’… Well… We never met a kilowatt we didn’t like, so any suggestion that the non-hybrid Tank 300 has ‘all the power you need’ misses the point. More is better. It’s just not more economical in this case. 

Even though the hybrid is $9K–$10K dearer, this is still something of a bargain when compared to a similarly priced Mitsubishi Outlander or Nissan X-Trail, and it would absolutely leave them in its dust off-road.

It’s not up there with a Ford Everest off-road, but neither is the price.

I’d buy the GWM Tank 300 Hybrid because it has more real-world performance and more equipment than the non-hybrid, not to save money on fuel.

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How do I buy a GWM Tank 300 – next steps?

If off-roading is your thing, then the Tank 300 Ultra Hybrid is the go because it has additional underbody protection and a front locking differential to go with the Lux’s rear locking diff and low-range transfer case. 

If your off-roading does not involve crossing the Simpson, fording the Nile or climbing Everest, then it may well be worth saving a few grand and buying the Lux instead. Then you can still look like the above as you traverse the treacherous tarmac in your neighbourhood.

GWM tells us there is decent supply coming across the ocean, so buyers shouldn’t wait more than three months for their car.

The next step on the purchase journey is to check the GWM website for stock of your preferred Tank 300 variant. You can also find GWMs for sale at Drive.com.au/cars-for-sale.

We strongly recommend taking a test drive at a dealership before committing because personal needs and tastes can differ. Find your nearest GWM dealer via this link.

If you want to stay updated with everything that’s happened to the GWM Tank 300 since our review, you’ll find all the latest news here.

Ratings Breakdown

2023 GWM Tank 300 Ultra Hybrid Wagon

7.5/ 10

Performance

Safety Technology

Ride Quality

Infotainment & Connectivity

Handling & Dynamics

Energy Efficiency

Driver Technology

Value for Money

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Fit for Purpose

Glenn Butler is one of Australia’s best-known motoring journalists having spent the last 25 years reporting on cars on radio, TV, web and print. He’s a former editor of Wheels, Australia’s most respected car magazine, and was deputy editor of Drive.com.au before that. Glenn’s also worked at an executive level for two of Australia’s most prominent car companies, so he understands how much care and consideration goes into designing and developing new cars. As a journalist, he’s driven everything from Ferraris to Fiats on all continents except Antarctica (which he one day hopes to achieve) and loves discovering each car’s unique personality and strengths. Glenn knows a car’s price isn’t indicative of its competence, and even the cheapest car can enhance your life and expand your horizons. 

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