namibia Adventure Safari GWM H5 2.4i 4×4
The GWM Hover started the alternative thinking process that first impressions should not necessarily be the lasting ones. Last year the Hover 4×4 took part in our Namib dune adventure and impressed friend and foe by keeping up with the biggest 4×4 boys. Can its successor, the new H5, do the same?
Great Wall Motors H5. The GWM H5.
Okay, these words probably won’t evoke a volley of support from your fellow overlanders, sitting around a campfire in the middle of Botswana. That’s a natural reaction. We know, because we were not exactly filled with confidence when we heard that a GWM Hover 4×4 would join us in the Namib Desert, in 2010.
Yet the Hover surprised all and sundry, and ran with the biggest of the 4×4 boys. Respect was earned the hard way.
More recently, GWM replaced the Hover with the H5 – a Mazda CX-7 lookalike SUV. “Have GWM lost it completely?” some punters asked. At least the Hover didn’t pretend to be anything else, or anything that it was not.
But if you look past the fancy new skin, the H5 seems to be every bit as hardcore as the Hover used to be. It’s equipped with a Borgwarner low-range transfer case, and tough underpinnings that are not scared of off-roading. So it may have the mild manners of Dr Jekyll but it can also turn into a Mr Hyde on a tough 4×4 track.
The cabin is, in true Chinese fashion, loaded with standard kit. Besides the normal features such as electric windows and power steering, the H5 gets rain-sensing auto windscreen wipers, automatic lights, reverse-park assist with camera, and an RDS radio system that can play CDs, MP3s and DVDs.
ABS brakes and dual front airbags are also standard fare. In short, you get a heck of a lot of kit for R224 990. This is what the 2.4i 4×4 will cost you. If you’re into diesel and torque, a new 2.0VGT derivative was also recently launched, and it delivers 110 kW of power and 310 Nm of torque at 1800r/min. We have not driven the turbodiesel model yet, but on paper it seems more than adequate.
It was the 2,4-litre petrol-engined H5 than joined on this Namibian trip. The engine, based on an older generation Mitsubishi design, delivers 100 kW of power at 5200r/min and 200 Nm of torque at 4000. The latter figure suggests that one needs to rev the four-cylinder engine to get it producing the good stuff – and this is indeed the case. However, we’ve certainly experienced worse cases of high-rev torque, and we’ve also experienced engines that are less refined than this one. So while the GWM mill is not the best in its class in all departments, it’s also not the worst.
Again, one has to consider that R224 990 asking price. You certainly get more refinement and performance than you would probably bargain for.
Overall, the GWM H5 is – like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – a bit of an anomaly. It’s cheap and not as nasty as Joe Public may perceive it to be. It’s a decent 4×4, even though the average overlander at a campsite in Botswana might not give it the thumbs up – purely because of perceptions.
Our view is that the GWM H5 has the power to surprise the socks off those with preconceived notions, and scare a few people in the process – like Mr Hyde.
Great Wall Motors was named after the Great Wall of China (surprise, surprise!) and was formed in 1976. Since its inception the company has focused on trucks and bakkies and – amazingly – it did not produce a passenger car until 2008, when it was granted the relevant state licence. In 2010, GWM produced 700 000 bakkies. Now it is pushing hard for the introduction of its electric-powered vehicles, both in the domestic Chinese and international markets.
Trivia: In 2010, GWM entered the Dakar Rally in South America. The Hover did well and returned for more in 2011, recording another strong finish.
GWM H5 2.4i 4×4
Engine: Four-cylinder, petrol
Power: 100 kW @ 5200 r/min
Torque: 200 Nm @ 4000 r/min
Gearbox: Five-speed manual
4WD: Part-time 4×4 system, low-range transfer case
Ground clearance: 200mm
Price: R224 900