GWM Haval Big Dog SUV back in the plan for Australia with bold makeover

The Big Dog was previously ruled out for Australia, but it is back in the frame – in a new form with rugged looks, modest off-road capability and the possibility of plug-in hybrid power.

A new, boxy mid-size SUV from Chinese car giant GWM – known as the Big Dog in its home market – is planned for Australia, according to a top executive.

But the second-generation model – unveiled in China last year as the ‘H-Dog’, with the option of plug-in hybrid power – is planned for Australia later in 2024, GWM Australia managing director Charles Zhao told Drive.

But it won’t hang onto the Big Dog name.

“The new model we are going to have … is called the Big Dog in China, and we are going to rename it here. That is one brand new model, for later in this year,” Mr Zhao said at a recent media launch. 

The executive’s comments were clarified by another representative of the brand as the vehicle is “under strong consideration”.

What the Big Dog will be called in Australia is unclear, but one option is the badge used for the original Big Dog in export markets such as the Middle East where it was sold: Dargo.

It is coincidentally the name of a town in Victoria’s alpine region, about 350km east of Melbourne.

In its home market, the second-generation GWM Haval Big Dog – a Toyota RAV4-sized mid-size SUV – is powered by a 240kW/530Nm plug-in hybrid system, or a 175kW/385Nm turbocharged petrol 2.0-litre engine, which drives all four wheels.

The plug-in hybrid claims fuel consumption of 1.9 litres per 100 kilometres, and the battery can be charged at up to 33kW.

It rides on a 2810mm wheelbase, and uses a car-based monocoque platform – but has a locking differential, 200mm of ground clearance, 24-degree approach angle, and 30-degree departure angle for some off-road capability.

This could make the yet-to-be-named Big Dog a direct competitor to the Subaru Crosstrek and Forester, as well as the Jeep Compass.

MORE:Search Used GWM Cars for Sale
MORE:Search Used GWM Cars for Sale
Sam Purcell

Sam Purcell has been writing about cars, four-wheel driving and camping since 2013, and obsessed with anything that goes brum-brum longer than he can remember. Sam joined the team at CarAdvice/Drive as the off-road Editor in 2018, after cutting his teeth at Unsealed 4X4 and Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures.

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