IT WASN’T too long ago that I remember typing the words, “it’s not too bad, for a Korean car”. Now, I find myself almost beyond the point of thinking, “it’s not too bad, for a Chinese car” or even, “it’s not too bad, for the price”.
Instead, I find myself writing, “this is actually quite good” and “if this keeps up, stalwart Japanese utes could be in for a very hard time”. It’s amazing how quickly things change.
It’s also amazing how quickly GWM’s utility offerings have gone from copping what is perhaps not-so-well-meaning “constructive criticism” to being applauded for getting so much right – which is exactly the kind of territory where the Cannon X now finds itself.
Is it the best ute on the market? No, it is not. Is it the worst? Not by a long shot.
The nuts and bolts of the GWM Cannon X see it top a three-tier ‘Cannon’ range ahead of the Cannon 4×2 ($35,990 drive-away), Cannon 4×4 ($38,990 drive-away) and Cannon L 4×4 ($42,490 drive-away). The full-fruit Cannon X 4×4 on test is priced at $45,490 drive-away.
Primarily, the GWM Cannon range is primed to challenge rivals including the LDV T60 (from $36,832 drive-away) and SsangYong Musso (from $35,790 drive-away), as well as any number of ‘mainstream’ competitors – chiefly the Mitsubishi Triton that has long been a bang-for-buck champion.
All Cannon variants are offered in just one body style: a dual-cab pick-up that measures 5410mm long, 1934mm tall and 1886mm wide with a 3230mm wheelbase, making it marginally larger than the equivalent Toyota HiLux in all dimensions.
The range is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel producing 120kW and 400Nm, driving all four wheels exclusively via an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 9.4 litres per 100km on the ADR combined cycle.
Those numbers place the Cannon down slightly on the 4×4 ute industry standard (somewhere around 140kW/450Nm), which likely contributes to the model’s lower tow rating (3000kg), down 500kg on segment leaders. Payload is listed at a respectable 1050kg, and the tailgate even offers a handy built-in ladder.
The GWM Cannon range rides on double wishbone front and leaf-sprung rear suspension with stopping duties falling to disc brakes all-round – something many rivals in the class still don’t offer.
Off-roading is aided by a low-range transfer case, hill descent control, hill start assist, and a rear differential lock. Approach, break-over and departure angles are listed at 27.0, 21.1 and 25.0 respectively. Wading depth is just 500mm and ground clearance 232mm. All figures quoted are for an unladen vehicle.
Interestingly, safety equipment for the Cannon range is up there with the very best in the class.
All variants feature auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning and lane-keep assist, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, tyre pressure monitoring, reversing camera, passenger-kerbside camera, rear parking sensors and seven airbags.
The model received a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2021.
For the Cannon range, we find an exceptionally long list of equipment, with more details available here.
Top-tier Cannon X feature highlights include leather upholstery, tilt/slide adjustable steering, 7.0-inch colour instrument cluster display, wireless charging, four-way adjustable passenger seat, power assist steering modes, door open warning, second-row 60:40 folding seat, and voice recognition.
All GWM vehicles, including those within the Cannon ute range, are backed by a seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with five years’ roadside assistance.