Safety, Value and Features
LBefore we dive into the review let’s start with two undeniable facts. GWM Ute Canon-X. First, Australia’s favorite type of car right now is the dual-cab ute. Secondly, almost all segments – including one-ton utes – carry hefty prices.
With that in mind, the Cannon range is priced at $35,990 while the range-topping Cannon-X is just $45,490 (both driveways), so you can expect it to be warmly received Down Under. Right.
It’s not yet troubling the industry heavyweights for sales, but it has snagged a 3.5 per cent share of the 4×4 ute segment with around 4500 sales till the end of August this year. Not bad for a company that only got serious about dual cabs in 2020.
If you’re in the market for a dual-cab, you’ve no doubt taken a look at the segment-dominant Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux and Mitsubishi Triton, but should the GWM make the list?
But it’s easy to see why so many Australians are giving the Chinese challenger brand a chance. Bargain-basement entry-level versions of the GWM Ute Cannon tend to be relegated to the workhorse end of the market with relatively spartan specs, but at the flagship end of the lineup, the Cannon-X is absolutely packed with standard equipment and features.
Its cabin is one of the most impressive in the entire segment, including among Canon’s proportionally more expensive rivals. Plush quilted synthetic leather upholstery covers the seats and doors to create a decidedly un-ute-like interior environment, high-quality materials are used in almost all areas including the dash covering, steering wheel and pleasingly decorative trim inserts. There is leather for
Then there’s the class-leading technology. A fully digital instrument cluster complements a large 9.0-inch central touchscreen. It includes the best levels of technology including a 3D 360-degree camera that is unique to the segment and home screen shortcuts for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with wireless device charging at the bottom.
But just as Canon is stacking up some serious firepower, functional failures start to creep in.
A single button that appears to activate the heated seats but does nothing when pushed. An auto-on maneuvering camera that takes over the touchscreen when stopped and must be manually deactivated every time other infotainment functions are needed – even changing the audio volume.
The steering wheel is visually attractive but has poor ergonomics with nowhere for the driver’s fingers to sit comfortably – like trying to lift a large cardboard box without a handle.
What initially appears to be a sophisticated and modern cabin doesn’t feel so solid when you scratch the surface.
Front seat comfort is generally good and the driver gets 80mm of headroom but there is no adjustment for lumbar or seat base tilt. A pair of USB-A and a 12-volt socket are standard in the front row, but there’s an additional 240-volt power point in the second row.
Rear passengers also have a USB-A socket, reasonably comfortable seating and heaps of space with 130mm of knee room and 65mm of headroom. Our only primary gripe with the second row is an awkward patch on the floor that’s less comfortable to rest your feet on.
Go for a drive and the disappointments keep coming. Up front is a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine that produces 120kW and 400Nm, which on paper is at the lower end of the category but still comparable with its rivals. Unfortunately, in practice, the way performance is presented, it is not.
The noticeable turbo lag from a standing start feels like a mountain of torque will follow once the boost threshold is reached, but the resulting peak grunt is only a small increase compared to off-boost driving and it’s barely noticeable. The duration is The engine quickly reaches its 4300rpm limit.
Thankfully, noise and vibration levels are almost as good as the GWM’s exterior suggests, with only a little rumble creeping into the cabin. Power output is smoother than some other small capacity diesels under the ute bonnet.
Progress is, in part, redeemed by a solid ZF eight-speed automatic transmission that uses its tight ratios to more effectively keep the engine in a frustratingly narrow torque band (just 1100rpm between 1500rpm and 2600rpm). uses
Gearshifts are quick and quick but still smooth, and if you’re not entirely happy with the choice, the GWM is one of the few utes to offer steering wheel paddles.
Neither is known for offering limousine-level steering feel or limousine-level ride comfort like a dual-cab car but, relatively speaking, the GWM doesn’t score high when it comes down to it.
About the dead-head mark, the steering is heavy but becomes overly light when off-center and a variable mode only adds or removes weight that isn’t felt. About half the time, the button refused to do anything when pressed.
The ride is arguably much better when loaded – again, a trait common to many leaf spring arrangements – and the tighter tune results in surprisingly good body control in corners. The downside when traveling is the poor ride quality.
The combination of vague steering and a jarring ride makes the GWM Ute Cannon prone to lane-spinning and occupants will find it difficult to relax on long road trips.
One feature that frequent road users will appreciate is the generous level of standard safety technology and driver assistance systems.
Particularly impressive is Lane Keep Warning, which only warns of departure when an actual drift is imminent, unlike many rival systems that are far too silly and annoying.
It is offered with lane keep assist, auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, speed sign recognition, hill start and descent control, seven airbags and a five-star ANCAP safety rating. Thankfully, we didn’t have reason to test the various other safety features during our time on the road.
A black mark against its name, however, is the slow reversing radar that makes its last continuous warning beep shortly after hitting an object if the driver hadn’t braked as expected.
Speaking of which, stopping is no problem for the GWM thanks to the standard fitment of mostly rear disc brakes – another unusual feature in the dual-cab world, as is the innovative step that extends from the open tailgate to a short or Helps to be less agile. Users in and out of the tray without risk of falling.
Away from closed roads, GWM’s manners improve. Gravel trails are confidently negotiated and the more agricultural suspension setup lends itself well to loose surfaces. The Cooper Discoverer HTS all-terrain rubber seems more at home on wet dirt than on the freeway, and the electronic stability system is calibrated to be slightly on the slushy side without bothering it.
If you like to spend a lot of your driving time on freeways and away from school, the GWM will be easier to live with.
While almost all other ute offerings in the market focus on drivability, practicality, comfort and equipment levels, Canon’s strategy places more emphasis on the latter. With a braked towing capacity that’s 500kg on the industry standard of 3500kg, sub-par ride comfort and plenty of functional flair, it can’t compete with more mature and refined dual-cab utes.
That said, it offers the segment’s second-longest warranty at seven years., has an almost unbeatable list of standard kit and a price that’s hard to believe. This should be seen as an expression of GWM’s confidence in itself but the recommendation is still to try before you buy.
The Canon-X’s showroom appeal is undeniable and, on paper at least, the range-topping version offers unbeatable value for money. But it’s the things that can’t be set out in sales brochures and presented in specific tables that practically unlock the model’s value equation.
Budget dual cabs certainly have a place and it would be unrealistic to expect the same level of refinement of the most expensive options in something costing less than around $10,000.
But affordable alternatives like the SsangYong Musso prove you can get a low-cost family workhorse with decent levels of equipment without the hidden compromises.
2022 GWM Ute Cannon X Specifications
|Model||2022 GWM Ute Cannon-X|
|engine||1996cc I4, dohc, 16v turbo diesel|
|Maximum power||120kW @ 3600rpm|
|Maximum torque||400Nm @ 1500-2600rpm|
|The weight||2058 kg|
|0-100 kmph||11.0s (estimated)|
|The economy||10.4L/100km (tested)|
|Price||$45,490 drive away|
Safety, Value and Features
Things we like.
- Stuff of generosity
- Luxurious interior
- A look of choice
Not so much
- Down-par ride and handling
- Thin torque band
- Excessive functional failure