When it comes to big SUVs, many people claim they are driving something as big as a tank. But if you have the new GWM SUV, you won’t have to claim to be driving a tank, you will be driving the new Tank 500 7-seater hybrid SUV. 

GWM (or the Great Wall Motor Company) is a Chinese privately owned automotive manufacturing company. They are no stranger to car manufacturing, outputting over 1.2 million cars in 2023 alone. Named after the Great Wall of China, the brand started in agricultural equipment and repairs, and in 2022 rebranded to GWM. Almost 50 years later, GWM sells vehicles under multiple brands including GWM, Haval, Wey, Tank, Power and Ora. GWM also builds electric Minis in China in a joint venture with BMW. 

GWM have released two Tank models in New Zealand this year, the Tank 300 and the Tank 500. The concept behind the Tank-branded vehicles are that they are body-on-frame SUV’s (or ‘ladder chassis’ which they are more commonly known as). The Tank brand is offering a more rugged SUV to the market than many of the so called soft-roaders that fill the parking lots – many of which do not have the ability or technology to take on anything more than a damp field if they went off-roading.  

What We Like and Dislike About The 2024 GWM Tank 500 Ultra

What we like

  • Price point
  • Spec level
  • Massive interior
  • Efficient for a big SUV
  • Huge boot space with third row seats up
  • Great space for third row
  • Incredible turning circle

What we don’t like

  • Grille design 
  • Central console GUI
  • Dramatic start-up visuals 
  • Radio controls and volume on start-up
  • Sunroof memory
  • Child seats and seatbelts
  • Car alarm issues

What’s In The 2024 GWM Tank 500 Range?

The Tank 500 is available to the New Zealand market in two spec levels, Lux Hybrid ($74,990) and Ultra Hybrid ($82,990). The body, chassis, and drivetrain are the same on both spec levels. The Ultra Hybrid comes with the following additional features:

  • Nappa leather-accented seats
  • Front massaging seats
  • 2nd row window shade
  • 64 colour ambient lighting
  • 12 speaker – Premium Infinity sound system
  • Electronic side steps
  • Electronic front diff lock
  • Tail gate with soft close function

2024 GWM Tank 500 Colour Range

GWM have kept it pretty simple for the colour options for the Tank 500, with only 4 paint schemes available, all of which are no cost options:

  • Marble White
  • Crystal Black
  • Dune Gold (Colour of our review vehicle)
  • Onyx Silver

There are a range of accessories that can be fitted at the dealers, but our review car did not have any. The Tank 500 Ultra retail price is $82,990.

For a full list of specs and options available for the GWM Tank 500 head on over to GWM New Zealand’s website.

How Does The 2024 GWM Tank 500 Ultra Compare To Its Competition?

The list of SUVs in New Zealand under the $100k mark can feel a bit endless, but the list if withheld down rather quickly when you add in a Hybrid filter and the ability to go fully 4×4 offload. So much, that it leaves you with two options; the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and the GWM Tank 500.

The spec level is what sets the Tank 500 apart from the Prado range, as the Prado Adventure has similar spec to the Tank 500 Ultra, while being $21k more expensive.

Make/ ModelEnginePower/
SeatsFuel L/100kmTowing
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado VX Limited Hybrid2.8L Turbo diesel150 / 50078.73,500104 / 553 / 974$105,990
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado Adventure Hybrid2.8L Turbo diesel150 / 50078.73,500104 / 553 / 974$103,990
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado VX Hybrid2.8L Turbo diesel150 / 50078.73,500104 / 553 / 974$93,990
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado GXL Hybrid2.8L Turbo diesel150 / 50078.73,500104 / 553 / 974$83,990
GWM Tank 500 Ultra Hybrid2.0L Turbo petrol255 / 64878.53,00098 / 795 / 1,459$82,990
GWM Tank 500 Lux Hybrid2.0L Turbo petrol255 / 64878.53,00098 / 795 / 1,459$74,990

Please note that DriveLife does its best to ensure the information above is correct at the time of publication, however, prices, specifications and models can change over time. Please bear that in mind when comparing models in the comparison table.

First Impressions Of The 2024 GWM Tank 500 Ultra

“It’s a tank” has never been a more accurate statement for the new GWM Tank 500. It’s a big, tough, hybrid that’s ready for everything the world can throw at it. And it looks like it’s going to be able to handle a lot of it in comfort, too. It’s bigger than my Range Rover Sport which says a lot, with huge clearance in the wheels arches for off-road travel, the GWM Tank has a big presence about it. I am however not sold on the massive chrome grille on the front of the car, it feels a bit much. 

Many have said it’s a cheap Toyota Prado, and in essence they are right. The top spec 500 Ultra with all the options is cheaper than any Prado variant. But does cheaper mean worse? Not at all, cheaper can mean better value, and in this case it is far better value. The closest Prado that comes with a moon roof is the Prado Adventure Hybrid, which starts at $103,990, over $20,000 more. 

I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel so that I could put my first impression to the test and see if this GWM Tank was going to be all it could be. 

What’s The Interior Like In The 2024 GWM Tank 500 Ultra?

Climbing into the Tank feels like you own a tank. The first thing that happens once the door handle is pulled is the electronic side steps pop out from the underside of the vehicle’s sills. From a distance, you don’t even notice them, and they pop out so smoothly – making the entering and exiting experience a bit more exciting. My daughter loved it, and kept pointing out how my Range Rover Sport didn’t do that, which I didn’t love.

Once inside it’s a rather different space, plush and stitched Nappa leather seats in every row, not just the front. It’s nice in there, and the wood-effect dash is a great contrast to the charcoal leather. The head liner is finished in a cream fabric, which really helps to brighten up the entire cabin, more noticeable of course when the sun shade is drawn on the huge panoramic moon roof. My only note for this would be that I wish it had a memory like my Range Rover which closes and opens automatically based on where it was set. If it was open when I last used the car, please reopen it. 

The front seats are super comfy, easy to find the right position too and adjustable in 8 ways for the driver and 4 for the front passenger. They are well padded and leave you with a nice ohh feeling when you sit on them. The side bolsters are sculpted to keep you from moving around in the seat, as due to the suspension, the car does have a bit of roll when cornering. Both front seats are heated and cooled; the heating is great, and the large area on the base and back heat you up nicely. Both front seats also have a Welcome option which moves the seat back once the door is opened to allow more room when entering the vehicle.

Coming back to the heated seats, I found the implementation of them a bit strange. There is a button on the central console, but this only turns them on. You then have to use the central media screen to adjust the temperature setting of it. There are 9 heat setting for the front seats, a bit much, my partner and I both thought. What’s wrong with the 3 setting most cars have and the easy convenience of just pressing the heated seat button to cycle through the different settings?

The second row of seat has set up in the typical 3-seat fashion with a smaller jump seat in the middle. Both side seats are heated and cooled, which is rare to see in this price range. The back of the middle seat can also fold down to become an armrest for the two outer seats, there are also two cupholders there as well. The legroom for the second row is impressive, so much space even for very tall people. What’s worth nothing here is that in many 7-seater vehicles, the second row can move back and forth, which can give you an impression of lots of space in the second row. What you do generally sacrifice is legroom in the third row, which was not the case with the GWM Tank.

My daughter’s booster seat sat in nicely, and she had plenty of space to get comfy. The only issue we had is that once the seat was in place, it was hard for her to get the seat belt done up. I had to do it, which meant pulling the seat base over a bit every time, as the seat belt buckle was recessed into the seat. 

The central infotainment screen is modern and packed full of features. On the screen you can see the vehicle’s range, radio, phone connection and navigation. It also allows you access to all the vehicle’s settings. The top level was easy enough to navigate, but there were many levels. It felt a bit like BMW’s of old, where they had every option or setting available, as long as you were willing to dig deep enough. Maybe this is the first revision, and in time we might see more user-friendly layouts and submenus.

There were a few things that frustrated me about the infotainment systems, the most noticeable was the volume of the music when you turned the car on. Many other cars remember where you left the volume, but the GWM always reset it to a higher present volume, which is a bit annoying when you are trying to talk to someone. The other aspect of this is when the parking cameras are in use, you can no longer adjust the volume. So for example, in a car park, you start the car and put it in reverse, the music comes on loud and because the cameras are on, you can’t lower the volume until the camera system is turned off.

The boot is a nice big space, thanks to the electric-folding third row and the standard boot configuration delvers 795 litres of space. The boot opening is massive, swinging out and open on the right side of the car, leaving you with fully unobstructed access to the rear of the vehicle. The only thing that may be a point to note is that the boot floor is higher than most, and not adjustable. With the second row seats down, the boot opens up to a great, cavernous space of 1,459 litres. The seats do go flat, but you have to take the head rest off to do that, which can be a bit of a hassle. With the third row up and in use, the boot shrinks down to 98 litres of space, which is still decent to get your food shopping into. 

There are a few elegant signs of luxury, one of which is the clock face in the middle of the dash with a silver-featured surround. If you took the logo off the steering wheel and did a blind test, my money would be that most people would say the car is one of the major European brands due to the finish and detail work inside the cabin

What’s The 2024 GWM Tank 500 Ultra Like To Drive?

I was unsure what to expect from the Tank 500 driving experience. I was concerned that it would feel a bit old and sift, but I was soon mistaken and found that the ride was rather good. 

When I found out that the GWM Tank 500 has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder hybrid engine, I was left with many concerns, as that is a small engine for such a big car. For example, my Range Rover Sport has a 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbocharged diesel engine and it gets me up and going rather well. The Tank 500 is heavier than the Range Rover by 400kg, so surely a smaller engine could only mean bad news and an engine that’s screaming for help under load.

Regardless of my concerns, this pint sized engine, manages to create 255kW of power and 648Nm of torque, not far off the stock power of my Range Rover Sport. So that pretty impressive considering it’s a much smaller engine. 

The Tank 500 is not a fast car by any means, with the 0-100km times at 8.3 seconds. However, I never felt that the car struggled much to get the big beast moving around. The hybrid engine was really well setup, and pretty damn efficient too. The manufacturer states the combined fuel use is 8.5-litres per 100km, and my real world use test delivered 10.9. That’s not at all bad, even compared to my Range Rover, which is 12.5 litre per 100km. I felt the combination of the hybrid system and engine worked very well to deliver the right level of power all the time, regardless of how heavy the Tank was.

The Tank 500 does not have any driving modes as such, however you can drive it in manual if you want, but I would struggle to see why. The Tank has an impressive range of offload features too, 4-low driving mode, front and rear diff lock, and a super tight turning circle of 11.1m, amazing to watch and smaller than many hatch backs.

The Tank 500 drives really well, and ticks the satisfaction box in many areas. Steering is light, with not a huge level of feedback. It feels like a smaller car than it is, and did not make parking tricky at all. The only thing that I would like to see improved is the body roll, which had a decent sway left to right when taking tight corners, or going around roundabouts. Brake are good, nice feel and I never felt unsure about its ability to bring me to stop when required.

Visibility around the cabin for the driver was great. The seating position is high and all the windows are tall, much like the command view position from my Range Rover. Even though the Tank is so big, I never felt like there are any blind sports or was unaware of my surroundings.

The driver’s dashboard is clean and well laid out. On the left is speed and speed limit signs, on the right is general information, and in the middle is the car and the visual layout of the road ahead and obstacles / vehicles around you. It’s hard not to be impressed by this, as it is pretty accurate on road markings, lanes, vehicles around you and even if you have your lights or indicator on, it’s displayed right there on the dash. 

Engine noise is very low inside the cabin, which is super impressive for this price range. And I have to give the GWM Tank credit, it’s no louder inside than my Range Rover, and that’s pretty quiet with double-glazed windows. The only time you really hear the engine noise loudly is when you use manual gear, so another reason not too.

2024 GWM Tank 500 Ultra – Specifications

Vehicle TypeSUV
Starting Price$82,990
Price as Tested$82,990
Engine2.0 L in-line 4 cylinder petrol hybrid
Power, Torque
255 / 648
Transmission9-Speed Hybrid Automatic Transmission
Spare WheelFull sized on rear door
Kerb Weight, Kg2,605
Length x Width x Height
5078 x 1934 x 1905
Boot Space / Cargo Capacity,
(seats up/seats down)
98 / 795 / 1,459
Fuel tank capacity,
Fuel Economy,
Advertised Spec – Combined – 8.5
Real-World Test – Combined – 10.9
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
750 / 3,000
Turning circle
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty7 Years Unlimited Warranty
5 Years Roadside Assistance
8 Years High Voltage Battery Warranty
Safety informationANCAP Rating – 5 stars – Link
Rightcar.govt.nz – 5 Stars – QKW392

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John Galvin (JSG)
It started at a young age with bedroom posters, the Countach of course. This slowly grew into a super car die-cast model collection, fifty five 1:18 models at the last count. At which point it had almost taken full control, the incurable Mad Car Disease ran deep though my veins all the way to the bone. And things for my loved ones just got worse as the cars where now being bought at 1:1 scale, after a BMW, HSV, and couple of Audi's, the disease reached my brain, pushing me over the edge and down the rabbits hole into the world of the bedroom poster.
2024-gwm-tank-500-ultra-hybrid-car-reviewSummary Section of Review We are stuck in a mindset that the Chinese brands are copies or knock off’s of other brands. But every other brand does that too. Why do you think there is so much competition within many market segments? What we need to start to come to terms with the fact that China makes more cars than the rest of the world put together, and they do a great job at it. I agree that some systems of the Tank 500 clearly have first-generation issues, but with a few updates, this vehicle will be hard to beat for value for money.  <br><br> GWM Tank 500 handles itself very well in the city, on the highway, and it does it all while transporting you in comfort. There are not many vehicles on the market that can do that for the price GWM can.  <br><br> Did I like the GWM Tank 500 Ultra? Yes I did, it's a massive vehicle, and you get a hell of a lot for your money. Why spend at minimum $20k more just to have a similarly sized SUV that still doesn't have the spec level of the Tank 500. If you're after a big SUV to move the family, it's certainly worthy of a test drive.


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