The GWM Cannon L Ute is the successor to the previously underwhelming Steed from the company once known as Great Wall Motors. But don’t baulk at that. They’ve gone back to the drawing board and built a new ute from the ground up.
In doing so, they’ve created an extremely enticing vehicle for anyone looking at the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navara or Mazda BT-50. The standout difference is the fact it’s a fraction of the cost and extremely well featured.
It’s no sports car taking off from the lights, but the 2.0-litre 4-cylender turbo diesel engine, pushing out 120kW and 400Nm, mated to a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission, is a well-balanced package.
The powertrain combination works well, and the engine doesn’t feel underpowered either, although it is quite revvy. It provides plenty of torque, and also met the claimed 9.4-litres/100km economy number.
There is a small delay in power delivery from a standing start, but it’s hard to fault for the price. The ride is comfortable at highway speeds but progressively stiffer at slower speeds; a common issue for most utes without a payload.
The Cannon L Ute includes four-wheel disc brakes and an electronic parking brake with auto hold, along with electronic steering. The latter works well but felt quite disconnected from the car, making it often feel too light.
It is a minor issue that just took some getting used to. The inclusion of a Bosch rear differential lock is pleasantly surprising too. Inside, the interior is clean, simple, and modern.
Everything from the supportive faux leather seats, the use of durable matte plastic trim, through to the centrepiece jet pilot thruster shaped shifter, felt like they were durable and would withstand the test of time.
Much like most utes in this class, the GWM Cannon L is about as aerodynamic as a brick, but did a great job isolating wind and road noise.
The leather wrapped steering wheel is comfortable and well laid out, with media controls, telephony options and adaptive cruise control well-spaced at your fingertips. The lack of telescopic adjustment is disappointing though.
That said, the range of movement included in the driver’s seat made a comfortable seating position possible. The Cannon L Ute isn’t shy on inclusions either, sporting a snappy 9.0-inch touchscreen, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay standard.
There’s also keyless start, paddle shifters and an array of outlets including USB, 12v and 220v. A 360-degree parking system is also included, allowing the driver to see an aerial view of their car. It was an unexpected but welcome feature.
We would like to have seen wireless versions of the Apple and Android smartphone systems on the GWM Cannon L Ute, given the lack of satellite navigation built-in, but it’s by no means a deal breaker.
There are some quirks though. The display is a let down. It seemed to work really well when stopped, but was a painfully unintuitive experience when driving. It also seemed to want to go back to the default screen each time a lane keep function was triggered.
You’ll also find Chinese writing within some of the functions (mainly the traffic sign detection and the 360-degree camera). We’re sure it’s a software anomaly that will be removed in future updates.
Aesthetically the GWM Ute is a great looking vehicle. The chrome theme followed through the exterior can be found on the door handles, mirrors, sports bar and large grille, sporting the new GWM insignia.
The inclusion of 18-inch alloy wheels, side steps, a spray-in tub liner, gas-assisted tailgate, rear diff lock and a first-in-class rear 150kg-rated tailgate step only sweetens the GWM Cannon L Ute’s already incredible value proposition.
The Ute’s tray is around 1520×1520 and can carry a 1050kg payload, offering more than ample room and muscle to be used for both work and play. Its braked towing capacity is 3000kg with a 300kg down ball weight.
While this towing capacity places the Cannon Ute at the lower end big towing utes, we believe it’s a sensible rating considering the 2.0-litre engine. There’s plenty of safety onboard too, with seven airbags, lane keep assist and traffic sign recognition.
The GWM Ute also scores blind spot assist, autonomous emergency braking and forward collision detection. It does not yet have an ANCAP safety rating, but is backed by a 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty and 5-years roadside assist.
Despite its simplistic marketing, the Chinese automotive manufacturer has really taken its time to research the Aussie dual cab market and has hit the nail on the head with its latest Cannon Ute line-up.
The value proposition offered by the GWM Ute range, with prices ranging from $33,990 to $40,990 drive away, is is top notch, providing a great range of features at a fraction of the competitor’s cost. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.
We weren’t expecting to like this car as much as we did, but the more it was driven, the more questions it raised about how the GWM Cannon L Ute could be as feature packed and refined for the price.
For the budget conscious individual that needs a ute for work and play but isn’t interested in paying the premium from big name brands, it’s certainly worth a look. It comes in Pure White Pittsburgh Silver, Scarlet Red, Blue Sapphire and Crystal Black.
Our test vehicle was provided by GWM/Haval Australia. To find out more about the 2021 GWM Cannon L Ute, contact your local GWM dealer.