In the week that I had the GWM P Series 2.0TD Double Cab LT 4×4, I put about 900km on the clock.
When GWM – who was kind enough to lend me the bakkie – came to fetch it, I did not want to give it back.
I had spent the last few days taking the long way home every night, and on the weekend I was looking for dirt roads to cruise on.
Heck, I even went to gym so I could give the bakkie an audience in the parking lot.
Why I enjoyed the P-Series
When the P-Series was delivered to our offices, my colleagues and I were amazed to see how big it was.
It sits larger than a Toyota Hilux or Ford Ranger, and nearly rivals the VW Amarok in width.
The interior felt upmarket, with artificial leather seats and diamond-patterned stitching – while the rest of the cabin was well put together.
Neat plastics, pretty finishes, a soft-touch dash, and a large infotainment screen along with a digital instrument cluster were all included.
This was surprising, considering this top-end P-Series retails for R544,900.
If you put it against the competing range-topping Ford Ranger, for example, Ford’s real-leather interior will feel higher quality. It will also cost you a few hundred thousand rand more.
The massive size of the P-Series was something that took nearly two days to get used to, and the round-view camera came in handy from the very first time I parked it. Whether I needed the camera or not, it was a feature that I thoroughly enjoyed.
On the road, the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine did its job sufficiently well – but if there is one thing I would want to see improved in the next generation, it would be power.
The bakkie’s 400Nm of torque is fine for any obstacles or hills you want to take on, but 120kW of power is a little lackluster.
It picks up speed a bit too slow for my liking, but maintains it well enough once you’re there.
Another assistance feature that stood out after only a few minutes on the road was the lane keep assist programme.
It does exactly what it’s supposed to, and it works.
On its lowest assistance setting, however, a swerve to avoid a pothole or navigate a tricky section of the road will result in a jerk of the steering wheel to “get me back into the lane”.
This was not needed in most cases, and it will take getting used to for drivers who are not accustomed to the assistance feature.
It must also be noted that the feature cannot be turned off, and the assistance programmes in the P-Series operate in three stages – from weak to strong.
That being said, the additional systems – such as keyless entry, blind spot assist, and rear cross-traffic alert – were useful nearly every day and they were welcome additions to my driving experience.
Driving and steering
In terms of steering, the P-Series lets you adjust this with a push of a button – between light, normal, or sport, and with a noticeable change in personality for all.
In every mode and at every speed the bakkie drives comfortably, and its handling characteristics are akin to anything in this segment. On dirt roads it has a lot of traction and feels planted to the surface, and the same feeling extends to the tar.
Although the driving sensation is good, there are a few noticeable differences when compared to the likes of the Amarok, Ranger, and Hilux.
The main one is that it has a bit less sound insulation – but this is a small price to pay when you consider how much cheaper the P-Series is versus the established models listed above.
I must confess that I did not have the opportunity to test its 4×4 abilities to the max, and cannot provide feedback in this regard.
A big plus for the P-Series is the overall comfort it provides.
I was seated in comfortable, heated seats for my winter morning commutes, and enjoyed music through Apple CarPlay. The infotainment system was intuitive and responsive, and my phone was always charged thanks to the included wireless charger.
It has more than enough space for five people, and an air-conditioning system that is powerful enough to keep them all cool or warm.
I tested this one morning, and got the cabin up to 32 degrees celsius.
The GWM P-Series attracts a lot of attention, mainly because of its size and flashy looks.
I asked dozens of people their opinions of the bakkie during my week with it, and I was always met with: “This bakkie is [email protected]&%*#! nice”.
When I asked them if they would buy it, I got a 50/50 response for yes and no.
In turn, I was asked the same thing.
I really do like the bakkie and for its price, it offers fantastic value.
The P-Series has not been out in the wild for that long, however, and it will take some time to see how it performs for owners who use it as their daily driver.
South Africans know how to push bakkies to their limits, and we will see how the P-Series stacks up against the current Hilux and Ranger favourites over the long term.
What I can state is that when I had to give the P-Series back, I was sad. I wanted to keep the bakkie for longer, and that’s a good sign.