A new player has appeared on the Russian SUV market – the flagship SUV Tank 500. “Chinese Automobiles” got acquainted with the car and assessed its capabilities on off-road and public roads near St. Petersburg.
Formally, the newly-made Tank 500 fills a niche that was almost completely empty after the cessation of official sales in Russia of new large frame crossovers such as Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, Kia Mohave and Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. Will the big “Chinese” become a full-fledged replacement for these once super-popular giants of the “frame” segment? Already from the first meters behind the wheel of the Tank 500, it becomes clear that this new product has taken the best from the mentioned bestsellers.
First of all, the Tank 500 is a serious SUV. The “big brother” of the already well-known Tank 300 is based on a solid ladder-type frame, has a default reduction gear, a rear differential lock, and optionally a front one. Its front wheels are connected on demand (Torque on Demand all-wheel drive system) via a multi-plate clutch, and added to all this old-school jeeper kit is a drive mode selection system with several off-road and on-road algorithms.
On the off-road section of the Igora Drive test site near St. Petersburg, the Tank 500 never tired of demonstrating that it can overcome deep fords (up to 800 mm) and even very difficult terrain thanks to large suspension travels and good geometric cross-country ability. The entry, ramp and exit angles of the basic version are 29.6°, 24° and 24°, respectively, with a clearance of 224 mm.
The only pity is that the geometric cross-country ability is slightly limited by retractable steps with an electric drive (put on top-end machines). But this nuance will not become an obstacle even on a serious “crossroads”.
The layout and style solutions of the cabin unexpectedly reminded of the Kia Mohave, a trendy segment of large “frames”. For example, very similar decorative inserts imitating wood are used here. An expensive audio system also amplifies the sound of the motor, creating a juicy accompaniment, participating in noise isolation, reproducing noise effects in antiphase and thereby muffling parasitic sounds.
In terms of a set of electronic lotions, the “Chinese” even outperformed the “Korean” in some ways. Let’s say the central touchscreen is larger here – as much as 14.6 inches. Also, the Tank 500 has physical buttons on the steering wheel and front panel, and the console is decorated with a chronograph. There is also a full-color head-up display, wireless charging, a panoramic roof and an electric sunroof, a 220 V socket in the trunk and advanced electronic assistants, such as a memory of the last 50 meters, when multimedia remembers the trajectory of parking, and then, already at the exit, accurately reproduces it , unloading the driver from maneuvering in a confined space.
Cons of ergonomics
But to say that the interior of the Tank 500 is ideal in terms of layout, however, is impossible. For example, I did not like that access to the niche of the transmission tunnel, where two USB connectors were hidden, was organized only from the driver’s side. On the passenger side – a blank wall. We were also not pleased that the “Chinese” arrived to us without the support of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay systems. That is, you get a huge screen, but you can’t humanly mirror the navigation image from your smartphone.
But the pros, anyway, outweigh. For example, observing the environment through the central touchscreen all-round view system is a pleasure (all obstacles are clearly visible). There’s even a “clear hood” view that emulates the image under the front wheels, not to mention the more traditional “bird’s eye” view.
The second row of the Tank 500 is the pride of the developers. Firstly, it is very spacious here (there is plenty of space in front of the knees and above the head). Secondly, the rear VIP passengers were given almost limousine options, such as the ability to adjust the front passenger seat through the touchscreen in the folding armrest of the sofa, move the sunroof blind (through the same display) and even run several massage programs. True, in reality it turned out that the rollers massage the back very strongly even in the most “gentle” mode.
It is also important that all seats, windshield and rear windows, mirrors, as well as the steering wheel and washer nozzles are heated in the Tank 500. As you can see, the Chinese are seriously concerned about adapting the car to our conditions.
Another object of adaptation is a gasoline “turbo-six”, derated for our market from 358 hp. up to tax-friendly 299 hp Nevertheless, the motor, working in conjunction with a 9-band hydromechanical “automatic”, provides a fairly confident acceleration, which, in fact, is reflected in the acceleration parameters to “hundreds”. The Tank 500 does this in 9.6 seconds according to the passport, but in fact it is even half a second faster.
The fact is that all Russian SUVs come with a “hybrid” makeweight. A compact traction battery in combination with a 48-volt starter-alternator adds 50 Nm to the “Chinese”, helping the car during hard acceleration. Such a system also allows you to slightly reduce fuel consumption and even move for a short time in a purely electric mode.
On the other hand, due to the hybrid system, the trunk volume turned out to be relatively modest – 796 liters from floor to ceiling. Even worse, all these gadgets made it impossible to install an optional pair of third-row seats – all officially supplied Tank 500s for Russia are five-seat.
Once behind the wheel, you understand that this car is designed not only for off-road exploits, but also for long-distance travel. For example, this SUV is very easy to overtake at medium and high speeds. But when driving at a ragged pace in city traffic, it becomes clear that the electronics are unnecessarily protecting the 9-speed hydromechanical “automatic”. When the gas is fully opened, it can “think” for a second or even a little longer before, switching deep “down”, sending the car into rapid acceleration.
As for the suspension settings, they allow this “frame” to steer quite interestingly. At least the lateral rolls on bends are within the bounds of decency here, and the steering wheel is surprisingly informative by the standards of the class. Driving stability at high speeds is beyond praise – it seems that the car is on rails.
Smooth running? Good, but not perfect. The source of light vibrations is the rear suspension, which, unlike cars for the Chinese market, cannot be pneumatic – only spring. As a result, it is the “rear” that worsens the generally very powerful sound insulation and transmits a non-premium trembling into the cabin on bumps in the area of the rear wheels.
What is the result
Be that as it may, the Tank 500 seemed to us a very strong player, which, by the way, during the St. Petersburg test, drivers of large crossovers literally stared at. Take a look and you. Prices for a car in the initial configuration, according to price lists, start at 5,199,000 rubles. And for the top they ask for 5,799,000 rubles.
At the same time, the base will already have wheels with 19-inch chrome rims, adaptive LED light, a three-zone climate control and an extended winter package. The top-of-the-range trim adds power pegs, leather-trimmed seats, a panoramic sunroof, retractable sunshades on the rear windows, a 12-speaker luxury audio system, and an expanded range of electronic assistants, including adaptive cruise, active lane control and traffic sign reading.
Sergey BARBASHOV (@chinamashina)
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