Reader review | Powerful and frugal: What it's like owning the new GWM P-Series bakkie

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Gary Langshaw's GWM P-Series
Gary Langshaw's GWM P-Series
Gary Langshaw

• The GWM P-Series was launched in South Africa in December 2020.

• Gary Longshaw shares his ownership experience after driving the bakkie for six weeks.

• The P-Series is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine.

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In December 2020, GWM launched its new P-Series bakkie. Its arrival was highly anticipated by South Africans looking for an alternative to the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger's likes.

One of those avid fans is Wheels24 reader Gary Longshaw. He had contacted us a few months back, saying he had placed his order and would keep us posted with some feedback once he took delivery of his new vehicle.

Here's what he has to say:

I have now had the GWM P-Series LT 4x4 D/C for six weeks and have clocked 2500km, including a trip from Johannesburg to Durban and back, and another from Johannesburg to Ladysmith and back. In addition, I have done a little rough roading in local Game reserves around Gauteng, used it to pick up a new heavy steel workbench for my Garage, and tow a trailer while moving my business premises.

GWM P-Series
2021 GWM P-Series

My overall observations

As a freeway cruiser, it has performed extremely well. The adaptive cruise control functions very well, keeping a set distance between you and the vehicle in front of you and matching speed perfectly, including braking to match vehicle's in front, then gradually accelerating again when the road clears. The lane guidance assist, lane centre keeping and blind-spot monitoring functions, as well as comprehensive climate control, make long drives a pleasure. It is comfortable, powerful and surprisingly economical. 

In Economy mode at 130km/h, it averages 9.8-litres/100km, which is surprising for a vehicle this size. In fairness, on a long road, it is more like driving a large, well-equipped sedan than a bakkie. It will endeavour to keep vehicle speed as close as possible to what I set in Normal mode. It is more conservative with downshifts in the Economy mode, allowing speeds to drop by 10km/h below the set speed before selecting the next gear.

Initially, it takes a little getting used to, as the lane guidance assist tries to autocorrect your driving habits. If (for example) you approach the near side lane markers through a sweeping right turn, it will indicate on the display that you are drifting out of your lane and nudge you to correct that. I discovered that if you put it into calibration mode, and then take a drive using your normal driving style, it learns and adapts very well, making the subsequent corrections less intrusive. Of course, I turn this feature off around town as it is definitely designed with long-distance driving in mind.

READ: DRIVEN | GWM's new P-Series finally in SA - here's how it stacks up against Hilux, Ranger

Another unusual twist I discovered (not sure if it's a good thing) is that the full touchscreen controls remain in effect even while driving, which is great for the passenger, but the driver should not be taking his attention off the road to use it. In mitigation, all functions can be controlled from the steering wheel.

The multi-function drivers dashboard is as comprehensive as the centre display when doing things this way, without removing any critical feedback such as speed, fuel consumption, distance, time, etc. The driver dashboard being fully digitised simply reshapes to provide any additional information required, and the ergonomics in that respect are very good. Another feature that takes a little getting used to is full 360-degree camera assistance for both reverse and forward parking. The ability to turn it from front to rear or side at will is handy for maneuvering tight spaces.

The centre console display (as I discovered quite by accident) can also provide full HD video playback and multi-format music playback, either from a Bluetooth device, a USB stick or an SD Card. This function is also still available while driving (again not sure one should have full screen video on the centre console while in motion, but it's nice for passengers.)

GWM P Series
2021 GWM P Series


I haven't been on any particularly challenging off-road trails, in fairness, but I did do a bit of a hill climb in a local game reserve over a small 4x4 only track, and it performed flawlessly. I didn't need to engage low range, or any of the diff-lock functions, and I didn't need to change to manual mode and use the paddle shifts either. I hope to try a few more challenging 4x4 routes on a trip to the KNP later this year. 

The eight-speed ZF transmission is very smooth and appears to adapt to driving style over time, the TOD system does its thing without fuss, and I have not had a single instance where I felt it was in the wrong cog.

GWM P-Series
2021 GWM P-Series


I made several trips moving my business to new premises, towing a double axle 4M trailer fully loaded, along with the bakkie loading bay being fully loaded as well. I noticed the only difference was the box selecting first gear to initially pull away in instead of usually starting in second gear unladen. Once in motion, one can barely notice you're actually towing anything, and the blind-spot monitoring and rear traffic crossing alert still worked perfectly even with the trailer attached.

Overall, I am very happy with the vehicle so far. It seems to be able to do everything it says on the tin and do it very well. I have had no issues, but should anything crop up, the warranty and service plan is very comprehensive.

GWM P-Series
Gary Langshaw's GWM P-Series
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