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

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2021 GWM P-Series
2021 GWM P-Series

• GWM launched its new P-Series in South Africa.

• The bakkie is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine, mated to either a manual or automatic gearbox.

• The P-Series is kitted with a fair amount of standard equipment.

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After a lengthy wait, Great Wall Motors (GWM) launched its new P-Series bakkie in South Africa. The bakkie, highly anticipated following its 2019 launch in its homeland China, looks to unsettle the establishment and make a name for itself in our very competitive bakkie market. The question remains, though, will it?

GWM entered the South African market in 2007 and had both bakkies and passenger cars in its product portfolio. The Steed was/is its bakkie and was available in trims that spoke to the commercial and leisure side of the market. The range was expanded with the Steed 6 in November 2014, and it gave the Chinese automaker a more generous selection of choice as to how it positioned itself in SA's bakkie market. The Steed entered the market at an affordable rate and offered buyers the opportunity at a new vehicle without breaking the bank.

Now GWM brought a new bakkie, the P-Series, to market and it is far removed from the Steed we knew.

P-Series line-up explained

The P-Series is available in two design levels, Commercial and Passenger. Each derivative is aimed at offering something unique to the market. While the bakkies look similar at first glance, there are several notable differences between the two. The Commercial range has different headlights tot eh Passenger lineup, while the grille is different for each application, as well. The Passenger range also has a different set of wheels and a roll bar that is aesthetically pleasing to look at.

On the Commercial front, prospective owners can choose from single and double cab bakkies in SX or DLX grades, while the Passenger lineup is available in double cab only. These can be had in LS (Luxury Special) or LT (Luxury Tourer) grades.

Across the range, the P-Series is available with a turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel engine that offers 120kWand 400Nm. On the Commercial range, a choice of a six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions are on offer, while the Passenger range is only available with the auto' box. Buyers also have the option of 4x4 and 4x2.

Do you think the P-Series will be a sales success in SA? Email us with your thoughts or use the comments section below?

GWM P-Series
2021 GWM P-Series

Notable features

GWM's new P-Series offers a fair amount of kit in an attempt to win potential customers over. The entry-level SX grade, on the Commercial side of things, comes equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, park distance control, and keyless entry and a tyre pressure monitor system - the latter not available on the single cab. The DLX adds leather seats, a sunroof (yes, a sunroof!), reverse camera with guidelines, and a 9-inch touchscreen that's Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible.

The LS grade P-Series is fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, seven airbags, the 9-inch multimedia system, an easy-lift tailgate, and auto aircon. The LT grade builds on this but adds voice recognition, a 220V charger, heated seats, a chrome styling bar, and Adaptive Cruise Control.

Six colours make up the P-Series' palet, but those opting for the LT grade can purchase a two-tone colour scheme for an additional R10 000.

GWM P-Series
2021 GWM P-Series

Driving experience

At the launch, GWM laid out several activities whereby the bakkie can be put through its paces. Covering a skid pan, off-road course, and a ride and drive, the bakkie was duly put through its paces. On the skid pan, and with the traction control deactivated, the bakkie managed to get its tail out, but it highlighted that vast amount of understeer the P-Series had. The bakkie is front-heavy, which pushes the nose more forward than one would like. The skid pan also emphasized the engine's lack of lowdown torque. Below 2000rpm, there is very little life in the engine and does one need to build engine speed for power to be channeled to the wheels.

The off-road course showed that the bakkie's 4x4 system is not to be scoffed at. Build enough engine speed, and the P-Series will boulder itself through obstacles. The bakkie boasts impressive features like all-round cameras and easy-to-use off-road systems (diff-lock, 4Low, hill descent control (HDC)). The P-Series also boasts with good wheel articulation and the 232mm ground clearance will ensure that most obstacles are cleared with relative ease. The bakkie also has approach and departure angles of 27- and 25-degrees, respectively.

The P-Series offers ample ride comfort for those sitting in the front, but the leaf spring suspension setup an unsettle it for those in the rear. Still, the bakkie offers a good ride quality over even surfaces, and the option to adjust the steering feel makes a difference in how the bakkie handles itself. Between the two gearbox options, the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is a far better fit on the P-Series.

GWM P-Series
2021 GWM P-Series

In summary

Entering the market at such a competitive price point, the GWM P-Series will undoubtedly speak to a unique audience. Across the range, the bakkie offers a comprehensive package and features that will leave most of its rivals hanging their heads. While competitively priced, the P-Series will have its work cut out if it wants to establish itself as a reckoned contender in the South African bakkie market.

The perceived build-quality on the bakkie is good, but only time will tell if it is set for success.

The P-Series is sold with a five-year or 100 000km service plan, five-year or 100 000km warranty, and five-year or unlimited km roadside assistance.

GWM P-Series
GWM P-Series
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