Tank has always been one of the coolest Chinese car brands. Even the name (German for tank) promises a lot. The vehicles of the Great Wall Motor sub-brand came around the corner in a correspondingly rustic and martial manner. But the days of optical saber-rattling are over. The design of the Tank 300 is a cross between a Ford Bronco and a Toyota Land Cruiser.

Inside, the Mercedes ambience greets you with round turbine air outlets and two 12.3-inch screens, one for the virtual instruments and one as an infotainment command center, in which the smartphone can be integrated via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. A USB-A and USB-C connection for the mobile phone are located above an inductive charging cradle. The entertainment program offers pin-sharp animations that also provide information about the steering angle and the angle of inclination of the vehicle, which is typical for off-road use, but actually enough.

The ambience of the interior matches the modern appearance. The Chinese marketing experts promise “intelligent luxury” and the SUV backs up these words with deeds. In the Tank 300 you are enthroned on leather armchairs with diamond-shaped stitching, the applications on the dashboard are dignified and nowhere near as playful as in previous models. In short: the tank has grown up and will make life difficult for the off-road top dogs. Especially since the starting price of 55,900 Australian dollars (around 36,500 euros) is a real challenge.

Especially since a lot is offered for it. An adaptive cruise control relaxes you on long journeys, the blind spot assistant monitors the surroundings and an emergency brake assistant kicks in if necessary as soon as an obstacle blocks the way. The technical basis of the 4.76 meter long off-road vehicle is the P71 ladder frame platform with upper aluminum wishbones at the front and reinforced coil springs at the rear. With a curb weight of 2,313 kilograms, this is a sensible measure.

The hybrid drive consists of a turbocharged two-liter four-cylinder engine with 180 kW / 245 hp and a 78 kW / 106 hp electric motor, which put a total of 258 kW / 351 hp and a maximum torque of 615 Newton meters onto the road. The energy for the electric motor comes from a 1.75 kilowatt hour battery. On the road, the tank cuts a fine figure and quickly brushes underpowered concerns aside. The electrical support always intervenes with the help of the inconspicuously acting nine-speed automatic when the combustion engine threatens to run out of air. With a wheelbase of 2.75 meters, there is also enough space in the rear, even if you sit a little high. The tank is also safe The Australian automotive testing authority ANCAP Safety (Australasian New Car Assessment Program) has given the crossover the maximum rating of five stars.

In addition to the classic driving modes such as Normal, Sport and Eco, the Tank 300 also offers the typical off-road programs with mud and sand and is equipped with four-wheel drive and two electrically controlled differentials typical of off-road. There is also a gear reduction when things get down to business off-road. The fact that every turn of one of the two selector switches is accompanied by an acoustic jingle is certainly not for everyone, but it is common in China. When it comes to off-road characteristics, the Tank 300 is no slouch: the ground clearance is 22.4 centimeters and the angle of departure is 33 degrees at the front and 34 degrees at the rear.

Off-road, the tank gets along well even without the gear reduction and climbs up steep slopes without any problems. The electric motor, which keeps the drive constantly under tension, also helps here. However, the interaction between the gearbox and the locks is not yet running smoothly. We were traveling in pre-production models, so the technicians still have the opportunity to make improvements. Otherwise there isn’t much to complain about when it comes to equipment either: In addition to the invisible bonnet, the China Kraxler offers such amenities as off-road cruise control and hill descent control.

In view of the good price-performance ratio, the Tank 300 is a real challenge to the established car manufacturers. Especially since the big luxury brother, the Tank 500, is already crouching in the starting blocks. It then offers a 14.6-inch multimedia display, massage seats with a seven-inch monitor in the rear armrest and variable dampers.