12 February 2021

GWM Cannon 2020 Review

The ute segment is a popular space at the moment, with the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux constantly vying for the top spot. Recently, the new Mazda BT-50 and Isuzu D-Max both joined the fight, and now the latest offering from Great Wall Motors (GWM) has arrived – the new Cannon.

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GWM Cannon 2020
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GWM Cannon 2020
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GWM Cannon 2020
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GWM Cannon 2020
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GWM Cannon 2020

GWM - the number-one-selling ute brand in China for 21 consecutive years - now have an enticing line-up available in New Zealand, consisting of three Dual Cab models, all of which are powered by a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine.

The newly designed and reasonably priced Cannon has been engineered from the ground up and designed to try and break the mould of conventional Dual Cab utilities. A mix of style, safety features, tech, comfort, capability and value for money all combine into a package that Kiwis might find difficult to ignore.

With program manager and experienced global engineer Morio Ikeda in charge of the project, the GWM Cannon has been developed to world-class standards in the company’s advanced R&D centre by a team of highly skilled designers and engineers. The model we tested was the Luxury model, which is available from $39,990 (+ORC).

Standout looks

GWM certainly got the recipe right with the Cannon - it’s got more grill than a fast food restaurant, a sports bar, as well as automatic LED headlights and fog lights, and a BMW-inspired shark fin aerial.

There are also robust sidesteps along with some handsome 18-inch, six-stud alloy wheels and, to the rear of the front quarter panels, a chrome and black plastic embellishment that wouldn’t look out of place on another, much pricier ute.

The Cannon has shot well ahead in terms of styling when compared to the outgoing Steed, which was one of the cheapest new one tonne utes available in New Zealand.

Stylish interior

The interior design probably isn’t what you’d expect from a ute, and feels more ‘car-like’, if that makes sense. Dare we say it, it also feels rather upmarket, almost like it’s a Euro-Asian hybrid with different bits and pieces cherry-picked from here and there.

The buttons and switch gear are petite in contrast to a rather sizable four-spoke steering wheel, however, the ensemble works much like the rest of the cabin and feels like an enviable space to be in.

The six-way electric Comfort-Tek eco leather seats were comfortable, and the room for the occupants was about average for this class of vehicle.

A nine-inch infotainment system that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto comes as standard, with a four-speaker, two-tweeter audio system. The screen is crisp and clear, but one thing we did notice was that whilst in reverse a message in Chinese (presumably a caution about reversing) features, which hasn’t been translated. Regardless, the reverse camera has a neat 3D view which makes manoeuvring this truck an easy task.

Another handy accessory is the 220v power socket that can be accessed from the rear seats - a perfect addition to charge your laptop on the jobsite. On top of this, the rear vision mirror houses a USB power output to make mounting a dash camera an easy task. This was the first time we’ve seen this sort of USB placement in any vehicle and it is a great way to keep the windscreen free of unattractive cabling.

There are an additional two USB charging points mounted on the centre consul and another in the rear. Unfortunately, even the top-end LUX model of the Cannon does not receive wireless charging, but something it does get is a sunglasses holder where you would expect to find the grab handle.

The tray is accessible via an integrated step that folds out of the tailgate with the press of a button. We found this easy to use and have only really seen this on jacked-up American models.

Takes off with a boom

Powering the range is the 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine, which has been tweaked to deliver increased engine outputs and enhanced fuel efficiency. The new additions include a Variable Geometry Turbo (VGT), variable turbo inlet and an upgraded air intake throttle and camshaft. The 2.0-litre engine produces 120kW and 400Nm which, on paper, is not quite as rambunctious as the Toyota Hilux or Isuzu D-Max. Despite this, it does still seem to be rather lively off the line. The fuel economy averages 9.4L per 100km.


Safety-wise, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist and even Forward Collision Warning with AEB are included. These are some of the standard safety features expected in new cars today in order to achieve a favourable ANCAP result, however, no ANCAP testing has been conducted at the time of writing.

GWM have gone on a bit of a shopping spree with an eight-speed transmission from ZF and a 4x4 drivetrain from BorgWarner, both of which are big names in the automotive industry.

There were also different drive modes should you need to spice up the ride, but we mainly just kept the ute in ‘Normal’ mode, which was fine for city driving. For a ute, it drives as you might expect - a little bouncy and twitchy around town, but nothing more notable than the other Utes we test. On the open road the transmission is smooth, which is expected from a ZF transmission.

With a reasonable ground clearance of 194mm (laden) and approach and departure angles of 27 and 25 respectively, it performs fairly well off the beaten track, too. At 3,000kg braked, you do get a little bit less towing capacity when compared to its rivals, however, this would be ample for most.


The Cannon offered more than we expected at its price point, so if you’re not after a more lavish marque and crave more bang for your buck, it’s hard not to at least consider the GWM Cannon if you’re in the market for a ute. It looks like there may well be more on the way with the Cannon - when it was launched at the Auto Shanghai Show last year there was a lot of praise over the 2WD EV version, so this ute will be one to keep an eye on.

At a glance


GWM Cannon


2.0-litre turbo diesel


From $29,990 

ANCAP safety rating

No ANCAP testing had been conducted at the time of writing


120kW, 400Nm


Six-speed auto

Fuel economy

Combined 9.4L/100km (Co2: 219-245g/km)

Towing capacity

4WD: 3,000kg (Braked) 2WD: 2,500kg (Braked)



Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

1050kg payload

Safety systems

  • Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
  • Lane Keep Assist (LKA)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
  • Traffic Sign Recognition
  • Vehicle Stability Control
  • Seven airbags
  • Collision automatic fuel cut function

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