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Great Wall X240

 

An SUV with a low range transmission, tinted windows and leather seats, new with a three-year warranty, for under thirty grand?

A pipe dream, surely. Except it isn't, for Chinese brand Great Wall has followed its utes up with an SUV, the X240.

You can't blame the Kiwi distributor for sticking to the numbers - the names, Wingle and Hover, don't translate too well. But this SUV could.

There's a 100kW/200Nm 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol motor under the bonnet, made in China as a joint venture with Mitsubishi, rated with a 10.4l/100km thirst and mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

It's down on power compared to the competition, and felt a tad lethargic at the start of my drive. But it had travelled under 1500km, and 650km later it was noticeably more responsive, albeit still fairly relaxed - which is fine, an SUV ain't a race car.

But this one does handle well and predictably, thanks in part to Isuzu involvement. Ride is comfy-compliant and she rolls on corners, but that's par for the SUV course. The X240 does feel like an off-roading SUV on road, but a confident one - it could teach some bigger brands a few lessons.

The low range with its easy dial to select two-wheel-drive, four-high or four-low is sourced from Borg Warner, and the X240 is reasonably competent off road.

It's also got enough thoughtful detail to please, and I don't just mean the leather seats, 17-inch alloy wheels and tinted windows.

The boot's got a tonneau cover and a rubber boot liner, with cutouts for child seat tether access (though their use compromises useable boot space). There are enough cup holders and cubbies, plus air con, MP3 access for the CD player, and even park distance control and heated mirrors.

It's not all good news of course. That'd be difficult for the price. So the cabin makes liberal use of hard plastics, and there's the odd visible seam. The door handle action feels cheap, and park distance control response seemed a little inconsistent: I soon resorted to the traditional method - paying attention.

A minor control threw a wobbly for one drive only - but it'd be covered under warranty. Such a glitch would be unacceptable in some cars, though this one offers enough value to overlook trivial (if potentially irritating) wibbles.

Great Wall really needs an auto transmission and a diesel engine for its X240, both of which are due to arrive next year. I'd like a touch more power, especially given this car is heavier than admittedly pricier alternatives like Suzuki's Vitara.

It'd be nice to have more than two airbags, and materials of a quality that match this car's handsome looks, too. But get them and you'd' pay more, as you'd normally expect to for stuff like the leather.

However the engine, the handling, the size and the spec list are all far above what you'd expect for the price. Enough to offset the compromises? I wouldn't be surprised.
 


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