BUT if you want the best, the best performance, the best quality, the best resale and the best economy, don’t read any further. This review is about the best value for money 4WD or SUV on the market. It’s not about the number one SUV. There are better SUVS, no doubt about it, but nobody else can match the Great Wall on price and equipment.
WHAT IS IT?
The X240 is a compact soft off-roader with a body-on-frame vehicle, which is a body attached to a separate chassis (a technique mostly used on utility vehicles and trucks), as opposed to the body being one complete unit and having suspension attached to it, which is how most cars and softroaders are made.
The X240 doesn’t set any new benchmarks for technology or innovation and is quite crude in parts by modern standards but it has one big ace up its sleeve: the price of $23,990 drive away.
For now, there is only one model in the X240 range: the 2.4 petrol engine with five-speed manual transmission. A diesel manual and a petrol automatic are due in the second half of 2010.
The only option is a sunroof, which at $1000 is a relative bargain. Leather upholstery, map lights, sunglasses holder, remote central locking, CD/ MP3 player, power windows and mirrors, dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, rear privacy glass, and rear parking sensors are all standard. So is a threeyear, 100,000km warranty and 24-hour roadside assistance. The audio unit has an auxiliary audio input socket in the form of a USB port. Indeed, the only notable convenience item omissions are a lack of standard Bluetooth connection and cruise control.
WHAT ARE THE COMPETITORS?
Only the tiny, three-door Suzuki Jimny 4WD is cheaper ($20,490 plus on-roads) although the Hyundai ix35, Nissan Dualis and Kia Sportage, which, like the X240 are also five-seat soft-roader wagons, are only $2000 more than the Chinese offering.
Real-world dollar-for-dollar rivals will likely be used Toyota RAVs, Subaru Foresters and Mitsubishi Outlanders, all of which are available for about the same money at around 18 months old with 30,000km on the clock and some warranty left.
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET
Although they share the same Mitsubishi-sourced 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, five-speed manual transmission and 4WD system, the chassis of the X240 softroader is shorter than its ute stablemate and gets coil suspension at the rear instead of the ute’s more rudimentary leaf spring set-up. And four-wheel disc brakes (instead of drums on the rear of the ute).
The 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (100kW and 200Nm) and five-speed transmission are the same as those found in the GWM V240 ute.
The X240 is no sports car. The engine doesn’t seem willing at first and it takes a while to get a head of steam up. But, interestingly, really high revs seem to be counter-productive, so you need to keep the engine on the boil between 3000-5000rpm. Anything beyond that gives the X240 a bit of an asthma attack.
The official 0 to 100km/h claim is about 20 seconds. This is 1960s slow. The five-speed manual transmission feels solid but can be a bit notchy. The clutch action is light and easy. You can shift into 4WD while on the move (up to 60km/h) and there is a choice of high and low range for those who want to go off-roading. But the 4WD system has not been designed to work on tarmac. Most softroaders in this class have 4WD systems that do work on tarmac.
HOW DOES IT GO?
As with the GWM V240 ute, which felt like a previous generation ute, the X240 softroader feels like a previous generation vehicle. It’s a bit like the first Mitsubishi Challenger. There are good tyres, so while the suspension jiggles around and gets a bit upset by bumps, there is grip once everything settles down. MAKE: Great Wall MODEL: X240 BODY: Five door wagon PRICE: $23,990 ENGINE: 2.0-litre four cylinder POWER: 100kW @ 5250rpm TORQUE: 200Nm @ 2500-3000rpm TRANSMISSION: Five-speed manual, rearwheel drive FUEL CONSUMPTION: 10.4L/100km, unleaded CO2 EMISSIONS: 244g/km DIMENSIONS: Length 4620mm, width 1800mm, height 1800mm, wheelbase 2700mm, weight 1830kg WARRANTY: Three years/100,000km RIVALS: Hyundai ix35, Nissan Dualis and Kia Sportage, Ssangyong Kyron AVAILABILITY: Check with dealer DEALER: Motoco Cairns, Mulgrave Rd, Westcourt ph: 4046 6377 WEBSITE: www.motoco.com.au
The brakes feel surprisingly good (perhaps because the X240 gets discs on all four corners whereas the ute has rear drums) but need to be stood on in a high speed stop. Visibility all around is good thanks to large windows and a low window line (compared with most modern cars). Convex mirrors on both sides of the car also help to see what’s going on around you.
The gearshift could be smoother, and the power delivery of the engine could be better and more consistent. However, it feels and is gutless and, when loaded up with people will struggle, especially on our range roads. But it will easily tackle the off road with a stint on some of the tracks around the Ross and Locke west of Gordonvale on the banks of the Mulgrave River showing it can mix it with the best in the rough.
IS IT ECONOMICAL?
The X240 is slightly thirstier than its nearest rivals, despite its leisurely pace. The official combined cycle average is 10.4L/100km, but by way of comparison the all-wheel drive Subaru Forester has an average rating of 9.3L/100km and the base model 2WD Kia Sportage has an average rating of 8.0L/100km.
City cycle for the X240 is 13.6L/100km and highway cycle is 8.5L/100km according to the Green Vehicle Guide.
IS IT GREEN?
Relatively. Produces 244g C02/km. The Green Car Guide gives it three and a half stars with a greenhouse rating of 5 out of 10 and an air pollution rating of 6.5 out of 10 (10 is best).
IS IT COMFORTABLE?
The X240 is on the slightly smaller side of the current generation of softroaders. It’s similar in size to the first-generation Subaru Forester or Mitsubishi Challenger. The X240’s body-on-chassis design brings with it some compromises, however. The cargo floor is higher and the floor in the cabin is quite shallow but apart from that, the cabin is relatively comfortable. There’s room for four adults or two adults and three youngsters. The back seat flips forward and up in one easy move to create a massive cargo space. The tools for the wheel jack are stowed under the back seat, too.
A full size spare wheel is attached under the rear of the car, which means you’re going to get dirty if you get a flat, but it also means you don’t have to unpack your luggage to get to the damn thing. It’s not the best quality vehicle in terms of materials and build.
IS IT VALUE FOR MONEY?
Yes, no doubt about, with lots of metal and equipment for the price.
WOULD I BUY ONE?
Only if I couldn’t afford a better SUV. The X240 is a good first effort, and the building blocks for a better vehicle are here. It features a sharp and modern design, is well-priced and well-equipped with three years’ free roadside assistance.
On the safety front side airbags, traction and stability control are not available. The 4WD system can’t be selected on tarmac. The engine is coarse and gutless and there are some gaps in cabin quality.
Basically you get what you pay for.
>> TEST CAR COURTESY OF MOTOCO CAIRNS, MULGRAVE RD, WESTCOURT.