Let’s call a spade what it is – as South Africans we love our bakkies and they’ve become a part of our fabric as a nation. When observing the bakkie trend over the years, it’s interesting how pickups have slowly moved from being primarily used workhorses to what they represent now – lifestyle vehicles that strike a balance between utility, comfort and in some instances, even luxury. Of course, when there’s a high demand for a product, savvy brands sweep in and provide the people with what they want. GWM has done just that with their new P Series, and we took a moment to investigate this new offering.

The bakkie space is a hotly contested area of the automotive market, with brands like Toyota dominating with the playing field. Be that as it may, there’s always room for competition and frankly, consumers wouldn’t have it any other way. More to choose from. To get a better understanding of the P Series we need to understand its origins first. GWM has been in the business of producing pickups since 1996, and according to the firm one in two bakkies in China is a GWM. 

South Africans have a strange aversion to seeing beyond the badge on a vehicle’s bonnet, which is sad because there are many great offerings from the various car manufacturers. They may not display your emblem of choice but they’re equally good if not better than the prominent brands, and in most instances, they’re more affordable The GMW P Series is one such example.

Styling

In a world where everything tends to look the same, different becomes a good thing. We’ll concede and say that the Chinese haven’t been known for creating breathtaking designs, that rank belongs to the Europeans. However, they’ve done a commendable job with the P Series, and designed a bakkie which is inoffensive but is still unique enough to grab your attention. What you’ll notice immediately is the large chrome grille donning the GWM emblem at the front. This part of the vehicle is bold and yet subtle, making it stand out. In an era of aggressive bakkie designs, GWM has opted for the middle ground with the P Series – it isn’t menacing but it’s not soft either. There are six different hues to choose from here, and they all look good on the GWM’s frame.

Interior

The inside of a vehicle is where you spend most of your time, and as such, it needs to be built to reasonable standards. GWM has breached this mark with the P Series’ interior. It’s surprisingly well-built and upscale for a Chinese product. Considering the many critics were lurking in the shadows waiting to bash a product from China, the creators of the P Series had to have their bases adequately covered. From the 7-inch digital instrument cluster to the even larger 9-inch infotainment screen on the dash, this is an attractive cabin. The T shaped gear lever adds to the is one feature we particularly liked. Lots of tech and electronics to keep you busy here, from smartphone mirroring, all the way to a surround-view camera in the top-spec P series. It also comes with three USB ports to keep your electronic devices running at all times, you also get electronically adjustable seats. Way to go GWM!

Engine

As things stand, a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine powers the entire P Series range with no substitute. This drivetrain can be matted to a 6-speed manual gearbox or an 8 speed ZF transmission. The ZF auto seems to be the one that gels best with this diesel engine, built to deliver 120 kW and 400 Nm of sturdy torque. The four-cylinder will suffice for now, but we hope to see more variety in the future. 

A bakkie with no off-roading capabilities is like a toothless dog really, and thankfully, the Chinese had this too in mind when building the P Series. There are two-wheel drive derivatives as well as 4×4’s on the menu. The AWD variants feature 2H and 4L, and other off-road features for those who like to take the less beaten path. With a starting price of R339 900 and peaking at R544 900 for the 2.0TD double cab LT 4×4, the GWM P Series builds a solid case for itself and is honestly difficult to ignore.

By Gugu Masuku