Can the TANK 500, priced at 2049000 Thai Baht, truly strike a balance between luxury and off-roading?

Kevin WongMar 11, 2024, 05:46 AM

GWM TANK 500 has launched two sub-models, the PRO version and the ULTRA version. The common denominator is that they are both equipped with a hybrid power system. This is to ensure that this massive SUV, while possessing off-road capabilities and meeting the needs of a 7-person family trip, still can boast ample power performance and as low a fuel consumption as possible.

This is an important advantage of TANK 500 because it faces competitors like the BMW X5, Toyota Land Cruiser, and other large SUVs, which are much more expensive than TANK 500, not to mention they do not have hybrid power systems to reduce fuel consumption. However, the key problem is that the TANK 500 is still not well-known enough, and there are doubts about its off-road performance and whether it can reflect sufficient luxury, which are often the main questions of consumers.

Official guide prices of the two models of TANK 500:

TANK 500 HEV PRO: 2049000 Thai Baht

TANK 500 HEV ULTRA: 2269000 Thai Baht

Things we need to know about TANK 500:

- Wheelbase: 2850mm, minimum ground clearance: 224mm

- The maximum power of the drivetrain is 350PS, and the peak torque is 616N·m

-It provides 11 driving modes to cope with various road conditions

-Equipped with a professional off-road system

-The third row of seats can be electrically folded, and the last two rows of seats can be flattened

-Equipped with an Infinity audio system, composed of 12 speakers

I. Exterior design of TANK 500

Like many large SUVs, the TANK 500 is squarely designed to show off the tough guy temperament of a hardcore off-road SUV. Judging from the body size, the body length of over 5 meters and the body height of over 1.9 meters make us feel the momentum of this behemoth when standing beside it. Thinking about driving such an SUV will surely excite every man!

TANK 500's design is somewhat similar to a domestic off-road SUV that GWM sold in the Chinese market a few years ago, called Haval H9. Its side lines, the outline of the rear part of the car, and the design of the spare tire bear a high similarity to H9. The shape of the H9 also resembles the classic off-road SUVs like Toyota's Prado and Land Cruiser. Maybe there is some influence between them.

The thing that distinguishes the TANK 500 most obviously is the rugged chrome-plated grille in the front. The grille has a high recognition factor. The adoption of a back hanging type for the spare tire means that the design of the tail light can't be of the trendy full-width type, making TANK 500's entire exterior design look rather traditional, devoid of too much electric vehicle style. At the back of the car, the only identifier that shows its hybrid power identity is the HEV logo.

Body dimensions of TANK 500:

-Tank 500 HEV: 5,078 x 1,934 x 1,905 / 2,850 mm

-Toyota Land Cruiser 300: 5,115 x 1,980 x 1,945 / 2,850 mm

-BMW X5: 4,922 x 2,004 x 1,745 / 2,975 mm

External colors of TANK 500:

The exterior of TANK 500 has 4 colors in total. Gray, white, and black are common to the two sub-models. The ULTRA model offers an exclusive color, crystal gray.

Main exterior features of TANK 500:

  • Intelligent LED headlights (including daytime running lights and front fog lights)
  • Vertical LED taillights (with high-mounted brake lights and rear fog lights)
  • Electrically operated panoramic sunroof that can be opened and closed
  • Shark fin antenna
  • Electric side steps with automatic opening and closing when doors are being opened or closed
  • Rear spoiler
  • 20-inch alloy wheels, tire size 265/50 R20
  • Minimum ground clearance of 224mm
  • Vehicle weight (PRO-2585kg, ULTRA-2635kg)

2. Interior Design of TANK 500

The interior of the TANK 500 offers two color options: black, shared by both sub-models and crystal gray, exclusive to the ULTRA model, similar to the exterior colors. Compared to the black interior, the crystal gray interior exudes a softer and warmer ambiance, giving off a high-end business cabin feel that appears more luxurious and comfortable. However, in reality, the design and materials of interiors in different colors are identical. Another distinctive feature of the crystal gray interior is its pairing with a deep blue, a rare color in large SUVs that brings a more tech-oriented atmosphere.

In terms of the overall interior of the TANK 500, it doesn't convey a strong off-road desire but rather leans towards a more business-oriented aesthetic. This contrast might disappoint some consumers, but undoubtedly, the interior successfully presents a sense of luxury. It's essential to consider individual aesthetic preferences. The LCD instrument panel, a 14.6-inch central touchscreen, and even a clock contribute to the luxurious feel. I feel like the driver stepping out of this car is more suited for a suit rather than outdoor attire.

The central console adopts a traditional T-shaped design, retaining many physical buttons that give a sense of rich functionality, aligning with the TANK 500's genuinely extensive off-road capabilities. The central console and door panels feature numerous dark wood grain decorative panels, with a celestial-themed strip running through the central console beside the air vents. Solely based on the luxury of this interior, the price of 2,269,000 Thai Baht seems reasonable. However, for many enthusiasts of this car, the price may not be considered affordable.

Internal configurations of TANK 500 include:

  • Seats covered in NAPPA leather.
  • Ambient interior lighting.
  • Clock on the center console.
  • 12.3-inch digital driver information display.
  • HUD (Head-Up Display) system.
  • 14.6-inch central touchscreen.
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity supported.
  • Infinity sound system with 12 speaker locations.
  • Volume automatically adjusts based on vehicle speed.
  • 4-way electrically adjustable steering wheel.
  • Electronic gear shift.
  • Shift control system (paddle shifters).
  • Automatic air conditioning.
  • PM 2.5 air filter.
  • Wireless phone charging stand.
  • Smart keyless entry system with unmanned door lock.

3. Configuration of TANK 500

The TANK 500 offers various features in terms of seating. The seats are equipped with power adjustments, and the third-row seats can be electrically folded down using buttons on the side of the trunk. The second-row seats can be folded in a 60:40 ratio. This flexible interior space distribution allows for convenient storage of long items, such as surfboards, without the need for expanding the roof luggage box when heading to the beach or camping in the wilderness.

Both the front and second-row seats of the TANK 500 have ventilated functions, and the driver's seat also features electric seat massage, making it suitable for long-distance trips with family and friends. In scenarios where the third row is unoccupied, folding the seats completely flat allows for the second-row seats to be moved backward, increasing legroom. This transforms the TANK 500 into a spacious 5-seater SUV, capable of accommodating a large amount of luggage. However, the 2+3+2 seat layout has its limitations, such as the lack of leg support in the middle-row seats, resulting in slightly less comfort compared to independent seats. Offering a 2+2+2 seat layout for consumer choice would be an improvement.

The TANK 500 is equipped with a comprehensive set of intelligent driving assistance systems and features remote vehicle control and information viewing through a mobile app. The ULTRA model adds the IIP automatic parking system and ARA trajectory reversing function. ARA is useful in scenarios like narrow and crowded dead-end roads or impassable roads where turning around is not possible, requiring us to reverse along the original route. Although the TANK 500 is equipped with a 360° camera system, maneuvering in tight spaces poses challenges, and ARA addresses this scenario. Unfortunately, this feature is limited to a 50-meter reversing distance, which may be short in some situations.

Comfort and safety configurations of TANK 500 include:

  • Driver's seat with 8-way power adjustment.
  • Memory function for the driver's seat.
  • Driver's seat with electric massage system.
  • Seat opening welcome feature.
  • 6-way power adjustment for the front passenger seat.
  • Driver's side front passenger seat adjustment switch.
  • Second-row seats can be moved forward and backward.
  • Second-row seats can tilt 60:40.
  • Ventilation system for second-row seats.
  • Third-row seats can be electrically folded.
  • Third-row seats can be folded 50:50.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with intelligent turning assistance.
  • TJA Low-Speed Cruise Control System.
  • Three automatic parking assistance systems IIP.
  • Automatic Reverse Assistance System (ARA), automatically reversing 50 meters at speeds below 30 km/h.
  • 360° panoramic camera view.
  • Automatic Emergency Braking System (AEBI).
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Monitoring System (RCTA&RCTB).
  • 6 sensors each for front and rear.
  • WDS system to avoid approaching large vehicles from the side.
  • Lane Keeping Assist (LKA).
  • Lane Departure Warning System (LDW).
  • ELK system to assist in controlling the lane in emergencies.
  • SCM system to help mitigate the severity of second collisions.
  • Hill Descent Control Assistant System (HDC).
  • Hill Start Assist System (HSA).
  • Door Opening Warning System (DOW).
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

4. TANK 500's Power System

The TANK 500 is equipped with a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) system, meaning it doesn't require external charging stations. It primarily relies on a 2.0T gasoline engine to propel the vehicle, complemented by a drivetrain electric motor that can independently provide power to the vehicle. Additionally, the TANK 500 offers up to 11 driving modes and various professional off-road features, including electronic differential locks for the front and rear axles, a water fording status display, and the unique TANK turning system. This system allows for tank-like small-radius turns and maneuvers on very narrow bends, utilizing the braking system of the rear wheels. This feature proves beneficial in challenging off-road conditions.

The TANK boasts a maximum climbing angle of 36.9°, indicating its commendable off-road capabilities. In terms of suspension, the TANK 500 adopts a front double-wishbone suspension and a rear multi-link suspension system. Furthermore, the steering weight of the TANK 500's steering system is adjustable across three levels of lightness or heaviness.

Powertrain specifications for TANK 500:

  • 2.0T engine with a maximum power of 244PS (5500-6000rpm)
  • 2.0T engine peak torque of 380N·m (1700-4000rpm)
  • Electric drive motor with a maximum power of 106PS
  • Electric drive motor peak torque of 268N·m
  • Battery capacity of 1.7kWh
  • System maximum power of 350PS
  • System peak torque of 616N·m
  • 9-speed automatic transmission

Key off-road features for TANK 500:

  • Front and rear electric differential locks
  • Off-road cruise control
  • TANK turning system for maneuvering in tight spaces
  • Undercarriage image display system (transparent vehicle body)
  • Screen displays external water level when driving through water

11 driving modes for TANK 500:

  • Normal: Regular driving mode (four-wheel drive)
  • SPORT: Utilizes low-speed gears for high RPM and enhanced power (four-wheel drive)
  • ECO: Economic mode (rear-wheel drive)
  • AUTO: System automatically adjusts operating status
  • MUD: For driving on muddy surfaces, ESC and VDC systems disabled
  • SAND: Driving on sandy terrain, electronic differential lock enabled
  • ROCK: Driving on large rock surfaces, electronic differential lock enabled
  • 4H: High-speed four-wheel-drive mode
  • SNOW: Driving on wet and slippery surfaces, slower throttle response, four-wheel drive
  • 4L: Low-speed four-wheel-drive mode, adjusts high transmission ratio for increased traction
  • EXPERT: Allows individual system customization, similar to personalized mode

Configuration overview of TANK 500:

The following chart displays the official configuration details for TANK 500, highlighting additional features for the ULTRA model.

Summary of the Article:
The TANK 500 demonstrates notable features in both off-road performance and luxury design, but it appears that these two aspects are not seamlessly integrated. Its luxury is primarily evident in the interior design and materials, with premium NAPPA leather and wood trim providing a feeling of great value. However, the contradiction arises as one may hesitate to enter such a lavish cabin covered in mud. On the other hand, its off-road capabilities shine through the abundant and professional off-road configurations along with its rugged exterior design.

In terms of pricing, the TANK 500 holds a competitive edge compared to other large SUVs. The product positioning of TANK is aimed at providing more affordable and professional off-road vehicles to a broader consumer base, as seen with the successful performance of the TANK 300 in the Chinese market. However, the demographic targeting for the TANK 500 seems somewhat unclear in comparison, posing a potential challenge.

(Author: Kevin Wong)

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