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Motoring: Tanks to invade Zim

By Andrew Muzamhindo

IT reads like a sensational headline especially for any apprehensive Zimbo out there but it is true Tanks are coming. They will one day invade Zimbabwe, courtesy of Zimoco.

GMW is taking aim at Japan’s most legendary name-plate, with the new Great Wall Tank 600 revealed with the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado in its sights.

Actually they have a whole range of Tanks aimed at the Land Cruiser range.

GWM is studying the potential for its hardcore SUV sub-brand Tank for the African market, and it will be headlined by the full-sized rock-hopping 700 model.

A timeframe for the Tank 700 is currently unclear, but with the Tank 300 expected to be given the go ahead for an early 2022 introduction soon, the flagship SUV could arrive towards the end of next year or early in 2023.

The Tank 700 was unveiled earlier this year at the Shanghai motor show, and with its larger dimensions will set its sights on the Toyota Land Cruiser 300 Series and Nissan Patrol.

The Tank 700 was revealed with a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine, outputting 260Nm/500Nm to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission.

However, GWM is also working on bringing to market an electrified version of the same engine that will take outputs to 386kW/750Nm.

The hybrid would easily blow away the 227kW/700Nm offered in the 3.3-litre diesel V6 of the LC300, as well as the 298kW/560Nm of the 5.6-litre V8-powered Patrol.

However, Tank will have more up its sleeve to lure potential buyers, with the 700 set to undergo rigorous testing and development of a range of off-road accessories designed to appeal to off-road adventurers.

I understand that these parts will include things like lift kits, all-terrain tyres and wheels, winches, snorkels and more that should give the Tank 700 as much aftermarket appeal as the Land Cruiser and Patrol.

These parts could also come from the relationship GWM has forged with aftermarket modifiers from around the world, with the likes of Shelby building the bakkie-based Baja Snake and Brabus tuning a Wey VV7 GT luxury SUV in the past.

Designed with a technology focus, one such accessory under development is an integrated drone that can fly ahead and scout terrain to feed back into the Tank 700’s cabin, though whether this makes it to production is still unclear.

Aside from the Tank 300 and Tank 700, a Tank 800 also exists for China, though it is a more luxury-focused model that looks to take on the BMW X7, Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GLS, but it is unclear if it is also on the radar for Africa.

Chinese brand’s answer to the Jeep Wrangler is a hot prospect for Zimbabwe  too. GWM is working on a plan to sell the Tank 300 — a rugged go-anywhere 4×4 off-roader.

It will be a rival for the Jeep Wrangler, but at a more affordable price point. This could Zimoco advising that Jeep lover who cannot afford the Wrangler to go for Tank 300. The plan was to position the Tank 300 as a hero model, given its serious off-road set-up and striking looks.

The 300 uses a ladder-frame chassis, has locking front and rear diffs, all-terrain tyres, plenty of ground clearance and an impressive level of tech features.

It is peppered with cameras which provide various high-resolution video feeds around the vehicle. It also features a premium interior fit-out.

I suspect the Tank could be in the Zimoco show room by end 2022.

GWM is known for its powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol. This could be mounted on the Tank 300.The petrol engine in question is a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder (167kW/387Nm). There is talk of a diesel 2.4-litre turbocharged unit (135kW/480Nm). Both hook up to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.

The bigger, more luxurious Tank 700 is offered with a muscular V6 petrol-electric hybrid powertrain that produces a combined 380kW and 750Nm – enough to outpower the petrol and diesel twin-turbo V6 engines found in the forthcoming new Toyota Land Cruiser 300 Series.

While the exterior design has a strong Jeep flavour and the interior channels Mercedes-Benz, Zimoco is confident the Tank 300 will resonate with Zimbabwean buyers, chiefly because it has been designed for serious off-road work.

The spec sheet starts with a robust ladder-frame chassis, which is a shortened version of the underpinnings found on the GWM SUV, with independent front suspension and a solid rear axle.

There is 224mm of ground clearance, 33-degree approach and 34-degree departure angles, a dual-range gearbox, hill descent control and other switchable off-road modes.

Towing capacity is listed at 3000kg.

It’s not as big as a Wrangler. It is 4760mm long, 1930mm wide and 1903mm tall, with a 2750mm wheelbase, the Tank 300 is about 120mm shorter than a Jeep Wrangler.

The Tank 300 name has already been trademarked in some parts of the world.

However, Zimoco could face supply issues as demand is currently outstripping supply in China.

Believe it or not it is also a favourite with the young powerful women in Chinese corporate world. The demand’s been so high GWM has actually stopped taking orders because they can’t keep up with demand.

  •  The Tank is going gangbusters. Watch your back Land Cruiser
  • andrew@muzamhindo.com

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