Home Acura NSX We Need To Talk About The Chinese ‘Tank 300’ Off-Roader Because It Just Defeated Australia’s Most Grueling Hillclimb

We Need To Talk About The Chinese ‘Tank 300’ Off-Roader Because It Just Defeated Australia’s Most Grueling Hillclimb

We Need To Talk About The Chinese ‘Tank 300’ Off-Roader Because It Just Defeated Australia’s Most Grueling Hillclimb


Have I been living under a rock? Apparently so, because I — an avid off-roader — somehow am only just hearing about an amazing off-road machine called the “Tank 300.” Built by Great Wall Motor — the Chinese car company that is seemingly taking over the electric-vehicle space, even in Europe — it appears to be a legitimate off-road contender to compete with Toyota Land Cruiser Prados, Jeep Wranglers, and Ford Broncos. Here, let’s take a look.

First off, come on — look at that top photo. This thing looks fantastic. You know what it reminds me of a bit, with its tapered nose? The Ineos Grenadier that I off-roaded a few months ago in Germany. Here are a few Instagram reels; do you see the resemblance?:

There are some similarities to the new Land Cruiser, as well:

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I love the Tank 300’s boxy shape, the rear-mounted spare tire, the short overhangs, the high ground clearance; the machine just looks legit.

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The interior, too, appears too legitimate to quitimate:

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But most importantly, if you look at the chassis, you quickly realize that this Chinese 4×4 has got the bones to be legit, too:

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As I’ve said many times before, I’m a solid-front-axle man myself (I drive old Jeeps, and love the durability/articulation), but I can appreciate independent front suspension like the Tank 300’s. The 4×4’s frame doesn’t look dissimilar to that of, say, the Land Cruiser Prado or the Ford Bronco; you’ve got a solid rear axle, an independent suspension up front, coil springs, a dedicated ladder frame under a largely-steel body, a legitimate transfer case with low range gearing, locking differentials, and more. Here’s a look at the Ford Bronco frame, for reference:

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I’m not saying the Tank 300 is a Ford Bronco or a Land Cruiser Prado, but the general formula for these machines is similar.



As for the vehicle’s geometry, GWM claims the standard Tank 300 model has approach, departure, and breakover angles of 33, 34, and 23.1, respectively. These figures are all quite good, besting the new Land Cruiser’s 31.0, 25.0, and 22.0 degree numbers, but with the approach and departure angles falling significantly short of the Ineo’s, the four-door Bronco’s, and four-door Wrangler’s.

Notice how I said “standard model.” That’s because there’s a “done-up” Tank 300 called the Tank 300 “Border,” which (possibly only for the Chinese market) includes special wheels, graphics, a snorkel, a unique grille, and much of the coolness you see in the image above. It cranks up the approach and departure angles up to 36 and 37, respectively, and also ground clearance climbs from nine inches to 10 inches. (breakover angles aren’t supplied).

I’m not really into the “Border” model quite as much, nor am I much into the body-kitted one you see in the video below. I prefer the simpler, stock orange-ish one you see in the photos above:

The video above shows a Tank 300 sending every bit of its 224 horsepower, 285 lb-ft from its 2.0-liter turbocharge engine through a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic — all in an attempt to climb the legendary Beer O’Clock Hill in Australia. The Autopian’s “Down Under” contributor Laurence Rogers has written all about the legend of this hill. Here’s his rather thorough dive into this grueling challenge:

This Punishing Off-Road Hill in Australia is Destroying 4x4s

Australia has some world-renowned 4×4 destinations, from crossing the Simpson Desert to the Old Telegraph Track with its infamous Gunshot Creek Crossing, with more hardcore routes such as Old Coach Road and the extreme 1,150-mile Canning Stock Route (CSR) being quite the test of pilot and machine. Mercedes-Benz sent some unmodified G-Wagens on the CSR and as you can see in the video at the link around the 2 minute mark, they didn’t get through mechanically unscathed. If you’re after a challenge a little closer to civilization, The Springs 4×4 Park Queensland (located about 118 miles from the state capital, Brisbane) offers seven-hundred acres of space to camp, fish and test your 4×4. Videos of one challenge in particular are becoming quite popular online, known as Beer O’Clock Hill. An extremely steep cutting, often featuring a grip-reducing water crossing at the bottom, this track has humbled many 4×4 owners and broken more than a few vehicles.

As Greg Bell over at Bush ‘n Beach Fishing wrote in 2017: 

“Are you ever unsure if you should do something one last time, and then after deciding to do it something goes wrong and leaves you wishing you had just left it alone? Well this was one of those times. Beer O’Clock Hill, the steepest track at The Springs, is only opened with permission from Neil and prohibited to novice drivers. This was a track we had to try at least once but we probably won’t hit it again. About 100m directly up the side of a mountain, with shale all the way up and a very large rock step at the top, this track is not to be taken lightly.

To set the scene, you really need to understand how steep this track is. I first walk every challenging track and this one was no different. Once I made it to the rock steps, I could not physically climb them. These rocks were taller than me and steep enough that even on my hands and knees I was not able to make it over them. Now, when you’re walking up a hill this steep, even though you’re still technically on the ground, you can still become anxious about heights. I tell you what, my pants were filthy after this descent because I had to slide back down on my butt!”

The Springs 4×4 Park have dozens of videos of this track on their Facebook page and other social media sites.

Usually featuring an introduction or commentary by Lucas, one of the park’s owners, there are more than a few tales of woe due to this track. Sliding on the loose surface seems to induce most of the common failures, ranging from the ever-present CV (constant-velocity) joint failure:


Tyre/Wheel failures:

And differential failures:


You can hear the dead pinion from about 6:00 on this poor Nissan Patrol:


To the thankfully-rare instance when everything goes very, very badly on the steep slope (NSFW, language):


And when it all goes wrong… @The Springs 4×4 Beer O’Clock Hill • #80series #80serieslandcruiser #4wd4wd44x4rsprings4x4parkebeeroclockhillpsuperiorengineeringpsuperior4x4cracelinefoffroadufourwheelerufourwheeldrivepgupatrolicoilcabxmaxxisegmebarbrdkorr

♬ original sound – patrolin_aus

This poor dual-cab 79 Series Landcruiser put in a great effort, only to find another obstacle at the top!

There is a wide variety of vehicles that have attempted the climb, from the mild to heavily-modified, including the ever-popular Toyota Landcruisers (both SUV and the ute/pickup versions, the most current being the 79 Series), Nissan Patrol (also in SUV or Ute), the occasional Jeep Wrangler and even a few Mercedes-Benz Unimogs have made an attempt

So far only one of the new 300-Series Landcruisers has been recorded attempting the Hill:


A few vehicles have actually succeeded, thanks to good tyres, skilled drivers and locking differentials:


There has been the odd dual-cab ute with independent front suspension that has also made the climb, thanks to a skilled driver: 

The owners usually ban short-wheelbase vehicles from Beer O’Clock Hill such as the Suzuki Jimny unless they have a full roll cage and highly-experienced driver due to the even more heightened risk of roll-over. There have been some some successful compact 4x4s, like this legend Errol and his ‘zuki: https://youtu.be/3kMx7MJOpzg

This song seems appropriate.

The Tank 300 Is Apparently Legitimately Good

But who cares about any of this if the car doesn’t drive well on the street, right? Well, it turns out: It does. Look at this pros/cons list published by Australian automotive review site Drive:

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Screenshot: Drive

Styling, cabin quality, and drive experience are pros while software/engine start-stop behavior are cons? That’s a pretty damn glowing review! You’re probably wondering about the price, and it seems the Tank 300 isn’t really cheap, but also not egregiously pricey. From Drive (prices in Australian Dollars):

Initially, we thought the Tank 300 was going to launch in Australia as a hybrid-only proposition, but just prior to launch, the range was expanded to include the non-hybrid we’re testing at launch. The range starts with the Tank 300 Lux Petrol from $46,990 before on-road costs, then the Ultra Petrol we’re testing here from $50,990 before on-road costs.

Stepping up to the Tank 300 Lux Hybrid costs from $55,990 before on-road costs, while the range-topper is the Ultra Hybrid from $60,990 before on-road costs. At the time of testing, GWM is quoting the prices above as drive-away prices too. So keep that in mind when you’re working your budget out.


A 4WD Pajero Sport starts from just under 50 grand, while the MU-X starts from just under 55 grand, and a Fortuner from just under 52 grand. So, there’s a cluster there for sure. Keep in mind, the three I’ve listed are Large SUVs, by the book, while the Tank 300 is a Medium SUV. It’s pretty practical, though, with a roomy cabin, so I think the comparison is a real-world one.

The other, slightly left-field option, you could toss up would be a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. It is, however, a lot more expensive starting at $81,450 plus on-road costs. Think of the Tank 300 as the Jeep you’re buying when you want more cabin practicality, then.

So it starts at $30,000 in US dollars — not terrible.

Here’s Drive’s thoroughly positive conclusion on the Tank 300:

Depending on how you look at it, the GWM Tank 300 is genuinely affordable when weighed up against some of the more established competition, or right where it should be priced when levelled at other Medium SUV competitors. Precisely what that competition is, especially in the mind of you, the buyer, is the interesting point. Given it’s a rugged off-roader, with genuine capability, but can also easily live around town in the cut and thrust, it’s definitely capable of what Aussies want their 4WD to do.

I like the retro styling, the quality feel of the cabin, and the warranty and servicing costs are excellent. I dare say Australians are going to take a liking to the new GWM Tank 300, and if you’re in the market for a family adventure vehicle – whether it’s an urban adventure or more remote – then you need to take the Tank 300 for a test drive.

Other outlets are similarly effusive, and the hybrid model (yes, there’s a hybrid, too; this thing just keeps getting better!) seems like it’s got a lot of potential, with Australian car site Car Expert writing of the 346 horsepower, 454 lb-ft hybrid 4×4 from China:

It’s handsome to look at, well equipped and, based on our quick drive, is capable when the going gets rough.The fact it should offer significantly better fuel economy than a traditional off-roader in town thanks to its hybrid powertrain is a bonus that will no doubt tempt buyers.GWM is already on a roll in Australia, and the arrival of Tank should only give it more momentum.

It’s clear that this Chinese 4×4 that I’d never heard of is almost certainly Legit. It’s also clear that I really need to stop living under rocks, and instead start driving over them with Chinese offerings.



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