Great Wall wants to scale heights no Chinese brand has before, setting its sights on the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux with its all-new dual-cab ute.
UPDATE: The story has been updated with details about towing capacity and more detailed power outputs, following clarification from Great Wall.
The company made no bones about its aspirations for the new load-lugger, with Great Wall's design director telling the Shanghai motor show crowd the new pickup has been engineered to tackle established players for billing as one of the world's top three utes. No pressure, then.
It certainly has the looks to take on the big ute names. The fresh model, which hasn't been named, has a much stronger presence than the weedy Steed it'll replace when it arrives in Australia late next year.
In off-road guise, it also comes loaded with tough-looking accessories. Sports bars, a roof rack, side steps and winch-capable bumpers all feature on the concept pictured here, described by design director Morio Ikeda as 95% production ready.
All the extras were designed and built in China, and there are no plans to offer them as dealer-fit accessories at this point.
The design, according to Ikeda, is designed to appeal to global markets in a way previous Great Wall utes simply weren't.
"If you think about it globally, you have to adapt it to the global requirement," he told CarAdvice, eschewing the Chinese focus of previous models.
"We are thinking not only for China, but thinking about the world."
That's in keeping with what Haval Australia chief operating officer Hidesuke Takesue told media about Haval and Great Wall's aspirations going forward.
“In the past, Great Wall had a huge growing chance in the domestic market, so the Great Wall brand focused on the domestic market,” he explained.
“Now, the situation has totally changed. Last year was the first year that the Chinese industry dropped versus the previous year. The company is seriously seeking to develop the outside-China business.”
At 5425mm long, 1972mm wide and 1893mm tall, the ute is almost identical in length to the Ford Ranger, wider than an Amarok and comfortably taller than any of the existing dual-cab players down under, save for the Ranger Raptor.
The cargo bay is a match for the Triton's length-wise, measuring up at 1520mm long.
Three models will be offered in China, running from commercial, through passenger-focused, to the rough off-road model pictured in red.
Much was made of the move to a multi-link rear suspension, a first for the Chinese market. Braked towing capacity will be 3500kg, the car's platform director confirmed.
Payload figures, GVM… we’d love to share those figures with you, but Great Wall wouldn’t be drawn at the reveal.
We do know the off-road model will be able to wade 900mm of water, and will have a seven-setting four-wheel drive system for tricky terrain, however.
The move to multi-link rear suspension is one that should win Great Wall fans in China, where the dual-cab utes are transitioning from primarily work-focused vehicles to softer, more lifestyle-oriented cars with trays on the back.
With that said, the base 'commercial' model will come with leaf springs. That's the same approach taken by Ssangyong on its new Musso XLV, whether it'll be a winner remains to be seen. Australia will get its own suspension tune, too.
“We will have more localised versions and adaptions for the Australian and New Zealand market,” a company spokesperson said, confirming the ute will “definitely” be tweaked for our unique conditions.
“For export markets like Australia and New Zealand, we definitely need local tuning programs… for all the vehicles, not just the ute.”
Underpinning the new ute is Great Wall’s fresh P71 platform, also set for the Haval H9 SUV. It’s meant to be lighter and stronger than before, capable of five stars in a Euro NCAP crash test, and clearly supports electrification.
An electric version with 500km of range is coming, although details were infuriatingly hard to come by at the global reveal, and a hydrogen model is also in the works.
A range of trim levels will be offered inside. At its most luxurious, the ute will have a cabin decked out in quilted leather, along with a leather steering wheel and touches like an electronic gear selector. It looks good in person, and has an almost American feel thanks to the upright, leather-trimmed dash
Technology like lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera, and autonomous emergency braking will be offered, and a high level of standard kit is likely.
Power will come from a choice of petrol and diesel engines. The former will make 120kW/360Nm, the latter is expected to offer 145kW of power and around 380-400Nm of torque.
Exact figures haven’t been confirmed, but the diesel would put the new Great Wall ute in the right sort of space to tackle the Ssangyong Musso. The diesel should be Euro 6b compliant, too.
An eight-speed ZF automatic will be offered, mated to a switchable four-wheel drive system. A six-speed manual transmission will also be available.
The dual-cab will be joined by a single-cab entry model, but timing of the rollout hasn't been confirmed.