As a newcomer to the South African market, the GWM P-Series has already made quite a splash. Competing in one of the most popular segments in South Africa – the luxury double-cab segment – against many good contenders, the P-Series impressed consumers so much that it was a finalist for the 2021 Car of the Year Awards shortly after its debut.
GWM offers the P-Series in commercial variants, but the Passenger version is new to the market. It builds on the series’ strong, reliable and hard-working character, merging it with refinement, class and technology to make a family-friendly package that goes head to head with big names like Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux and VW Amarok.
The P-Series offers a two-model line-up that can be optioned with either 4×2 or 4×4 and is powered in all configurations by a 400 Nm engine with gusto both on and off the road. While fuel economy numbers are on the high side, the entire deal is almost too good to be true. This is a bakkie you simply have to test-drive for yourself.
At a glance
It is impossible to miss the GWM P-Series on the road – not only does its presence dominate, but the easily recognisable grille is so large it swells the already massive bakkie. In fact, it looks more like an American pickup. Its dimensions include a 5 410 mm length stretched over a 3 230 mm wheelbase, and it stands 1 886 mm in height. This makes it considerably larger than its rivals. You can be sure that wherever this behemoth pulls up, it will be noticed.
Other than the easily recognisable grill and logo design, the exterior of the P-Series also includes large 18-inch wheels, a tailgate step, a plastic drop-in bedliner, and chrome exterior accents on the LT trims. All models also get LED headlamps with auto-on and off functionality, front fog lamps and rear fog lights.
Once you’ve hoisted yourself into the cabin, you will no doubt be hit by its size – and the solid clunk of the doors closing, feeling safe and secure inside. The interior is really spacious, with ample head and legroom for five occupants. The cabin is one of the classiest in the segment, with generous use of high-quality materials and attention to detail giving it a more premium feel than the reasonable price tag would suggest.
On top-spec LT models, drivers get six-way power-adjustable seating, with both the front seats equipped with heating for chilly winter mornings. Leather seating is available at the top of the range with beautifully quilted detail on the door panels.
Adding to the distinguished cabin is a wide range of technology, including a 9-inch infotainment display with voice recognition and easy-to-use menus. The setup also has smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Wireless charging is standard, and a four-speaker sound system is included on the base model, with the LT-spec getting two additional speakers.
The safety features make this a brilliant family carrier. They include a rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines, cruise control, rollover mitigation, and brake assist. The topmost trim also gets adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane-keep and lane centre assist, forward-collision warning, traffic sign recognition, rear-cross-traffic alert and a surround-view camera.
Under the bonnet
Standard across the range is a 2,0-litre turbodiesel inline-four engine that offers 120 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque. This is paired to an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, with both the trim grades in the line-up available as 4×2 and 4×4. For those who want to maximise on the 4×4 drivetrain, it offers some off-road potential, with a locking rear differential and ground clearance figures that support mild adventuring. For those who will be using the P-Series mainly in the city, the drive is comfortable and compliant, with three driving modes to choose from: Standard, Eco and Sport mode. These change throttle responses to maximise either fuel efficiency or performance.
In terms of fuel economy, the manufacturer claims 9,4 litres per 100 km, which is expected in this segment for a heavy car with a potent powertrain.
So, what’s the scoop?
The major drawcard for the P-Series is the very reasonable pricing. As a new contender to the double-cab segment, the GWM bakkie has made quite an entrance. The LS model is the entry-level trim and it will cost you only R471 900 in 4×2 guise, increasing to R519 900 for the 4×4 versions. The higher-spec LT trim starts at R536 900 and tops out at R584 900 with 4x4This is generous for a value-laden package that includes a long list of driver assists and safety features and a plush interior with leather seats and heating up front. When it comes to value for money, GWM has hit the nail on the head.