Sitting between the Cannon X and range topping XSR variants, the sporty looking Vanta is GWM’s latest dual cab Ute offering. With intimidating looks, it features a blacked-out grille, door handles, exterior mirrors and unique sports bar.
The 18-inch alloys are black too, with our test vehicle draped in you guessed it, Crystal Black. Priced at $46,490 drive away, you can actually choose to have it in Scarlet Red, Sapphire Blue or Pearl White.
And while it does offer nods to a couple of its rivals, it is very much its own beast. There’s a solid look and feel to most materials and we reckon if you removed all its badging, you’d be hard pressed to figure out its origins.
Open the doors and the interior impresses, not only with plenty of space, reflecting the exterior’s rather large proportions, but the diamond stitching across the seats and in the door cards exudes a touch of class and luxury.
Yes it’s fake, but it looks and feels nice. Onlookers even gave that sort of ‘Ooooh’ that tells you they’re pleasantly surprised. That quality appearance extends to the dash as well, but it is a little plastic to the touch.
Climbing inside is easy thanks to side steps running the length of the dual cab, and even our little 5-year-old had no problems getting into the rear and enjoyed being able to look over most other vehicles on the road.
With 6-way adjustability on the driver’s seat (4-way for the front passenger), it’s not hard to get comfortable either, although the seat base feels a bit short and may not be great on longer drives, for taller people (yours truly is 182cm tall).
The 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster is clear and informative, while the 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system takes care of the bulk of the functions and settings available.
Additional air-conditioning controls sit below the centre screen, followed by two USB ports and a wireless charging pad. The steering wheel is large but comfortable and features controls on either side to cycle through menus on the information display.
You can handle phone calls, adjust the cruise control and access radio/media options from here as well. The audio system is adequate but it’s not going to win any awards. With 6-speakers, you get AM/FM radio as well as USB media and Bluetooth.
There’s a wired connection for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, giving you satellite navigation, which isn’t native. The USB media option allows you to play music, movies (not while driving of course), and images via the two front USB ports.
The audio volume will lower when the safety cameras activate and since the camera view fills the centre screen you’ll find that you can’t access any of the other menus or settings until you drive off again. We’re pretty sure this can be turned off but it’s worth noting.
The only two cupholders in the car sit in the centre console below a sliding storage cubby. There’s no problem fitting child capsules and booster seats in the spacious rear though, with ISOFIX points available for the outer seats.
There’s a 60:40 split allowing for easy access behind and the lower seat base can also fold up for extra storage, while a 12V power outlet and USB port are offered. There’s a fold down armrest from the centre seat. The rear cabin also misses out on an interior light.
The ute tray, in the words of my little one is “big enough to have a picnic”, though we didn’t get to test this out. Measuring 1,561mm long, 1,614mm wide and offering 1,146mm between the wheel arches, the Cannon beats rivals from Ssangyong and LDV.
The sports bar doesn’t intrude, there are handy tie-down points within, and the tailgate is gas assisted. There’s even a step that pops out to help with getting in and out of the tray easily.
The same 4-cylinder turbo diesel is used across the GWM Ute range, producing 120kW of power and 400Nm of torque. These figures aren’t likely to blow anyone’s socks off, but we found there was enough get up and go around town.
A heavy load in the tray or towing a decent sized trailer could create more of a challenge, but with that being said, the ZF 8-speed automatic transmission is up to the task, and you can select from three drive modes.
Normal is fine for most situations, while Eco transfers drive to the rear wheels to save on fuel. Sport provides a noticeable kick in the pants when you hit the loud pedal. GWM claims economy numbers of 9.4-litres/100km, although the best we did was 11.0-litres/100km.
Adaptive cruise control helps on the longer drives, with some nice adjustability for the following distance to the car in front. Lane departure warning and lane keep assist never felt too intrusive, although other media outlets reckon this should be turned off.
When you slow down for intersections or are manoeuvring the Cannon Vanta, the safety cameras activate and display through the centre screen. There’s some nice hi-res graphics which are quite helpful for navigating and placing the ute.
There’s also forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, along with dual front, side, curtain, and front centre airbags. The Cannon range scored a 5-star ANCAP safety rating in 2021.
One of the nice features while driving in low-light and at night is what GWM calls ‘front fog lamp with steering automatic lighting’, where the fog lights on each corner activate to help see around bends, corners, or roundabouts at low speed.
GWM offers a 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty, 5-years roadside assistance, and capped price servicing. The Cannon Vanta Ute is roomy, capable, and all the black trim pieces help it stand out and look the part.
If you have $50K burning a hole in your pocket and are in the market for a dual cab ute, this should be on your shopping list. It’s a decent proposition, with a generous warranty, regardless of whether it’s made in China or not.
Our test vehicle was provided by GWM Haval Australia. To find out more about the 2023 GWM Cannon Vanta Ute, contact your local GWM Haval dealer.