Gwm canon xsr feature

Cheap GWM Cannon-XSR Looks Tough, But There’s a Catch

The GWM Cannon-XSR Ute has been sent to the gym to gain further muscle and as a result, it now has the makings of a cut-price off-roader. At the very least, it looks like one on paper. Priced from AUD$52,990 drive-away it’s staggering just how cheap the Cannon-XSR flagship is compared to its main rivals. The biggest highlight here is the new part-time 4×4 system with selectable 2WD and 4WD (in high- and low-range) with front and rear locking differentials which replaces the full-time 4WD system on the standard models.

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Front steel barwork
Steel front bar on GWM Canon-XSR | Image: Ben McKimm / Man of Many

Like the Ford Ranger Raptor, there’s added underbody chassis and front guard protection to safeguard against potential damage, even with the additional 34mm of ground clearance thanks to chunky 265/65/r18 all-terrain rubber. Visually, the Cannon-XSR appears off-road ready, garnished with details like a snorkel, thick cladding, and steel bumpers.

Mechanically, there are no changes and the 2.0-litre turbo diesel that puts out 120kW @ 3600rpm and 400Nm @ 1500–2500rpm. After driving the car around town for a week we found the engine underpowered, made worse by incredible amounts of throttle lag when you accelerate. Merging from roundabouts and intersections is a scary task, to say the least.

Our other concern is the suspension tune that struggles with speed bumps, let alone bumps and gullies offroad. In fact, we were so concerned with the performance of the suspension over bumps that we decided not to test the car offroad. It’s very harsh and uncomfortable to live with on a daily basis and it’s unclear whether any changes were made to accommodate the weight of the steel bar work.

Gwm canon xsr interior dashboard
Japanese ute brands could learn something from the interior of the GWM Canon-XSR | Image: Ben McKimm / Man of Many

Interestingly, the Cannon-XSR misses out on some key features like front parking sensors but gains a new glass sunroof. Elsewhere, the standard equipment list is generous with features like a driver-powered seat, LED lighting, seven airbags, driver assistance features and a 360-degree view camera. In fact, the interior is so well appointed with diamond quilting and soft-touch surfaces we’d almost call it luxurious.

Priced at AUD$52,990 drive-away, the GWM Cannon-XSR competes with other off-road-focused Utes like the Nissan Navara Pro-4X and the Toyota HiLux GR Sport. While these updates have certainly injected more desirability into this car along with unlocking its rugged side, the throttle calibration and suspension are such glaring issues that we struggle to recommend this ute.

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Somnath Chatterjee
Contributor

Somnath Chatterjee

Somnath Chatterjee is an experience car journalist and automotive expert. His supercar reviews, interviews and industry features have appeared in global publications such as Upscale living, Robb Report and Yahoo Lifestyle Asia. Somnath specialises in luxury and lifestyle-oriented features with a focus on automobiles, aviation and luxury. He also holds a Post Graduate in International Business from the University of Dehli.