Great Wall has passed its new dual-cab to American performance house Shelby, creating a hardcore ute with Fox shocks, chunky tyres and an aesthetic makeover.

The 2021 GWM Baja Snake has been unveiled at the Shanghai motor show, as the Chinese brand’s road-legal rival for the dune-conquering Ford Ranger Raptor.

Co-developed with American muscle car tuner Shelby, the Baja Snake sees GWM’s new Ute undergo a hardcore, off-road-focused makeover, with a ride height increase, chunkier bumpers, wider wheel-arch flares and race-derived suspension.

However, there’s no extra power, with the tuned-up ute retaining the 140kW/360Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine and eight-speed automatic transmission offered in standard GWM Ute models in China.

Image credit: GWM, via Autohome.

Central to the Shelby upgrades is an overhauled suspension package, featuring a 51mm-plus lift thanks to new Fox Racing shock absorbers – the same units fitted to Ford Ranger Raptor and its American F-150 sibling – with no less than 14 damper stiffness settings.

Toyo rugged-terrain tyres wrap around multi-spoke gray off-road wheels, and fill wider squared-off wheel-arch flares versus those fitted to the standard GWM Ute.

On the styling front, an all-new front fascia headlines the changes, with a bulged bonnet featuring dual ‘nostril’ intakes, a heavy-duty metal lower bumper, and a reshaped grille with matte grey elements said to be inspired by snake teeth.

Black side steps, a snorkel, roof racks and Baja Snake decals feature along the sides, while at the rear the off-road ute scores a metallic rear bumper and a large ‘sail plane’ sports bar, the latter covering two spare wheels and tyres mounted in the tray.

Inside, the standard Ute’s leather-trimmed cabin scores Alcantara accents on the seats, dashboard and door cards, while orange highlights and contrast stitching adorn the steering wheel, seats and other interior surfaces.

Despite looks befitting a concept car, the GWM Baja Snake is a production model, with local media claiming the toughened-up ute will be sold in China as a limited-edition model – though exactly how many units will be built isn’t clear.

As for an Australian launch, GWM Haval’s local arm has yet to confirm whether the Baja Snake will be offered in Australia – however, if the limited-run ute is built in right-hand drive, and a diesel engine were to be made available, we’d wager the model would be a shoo-in to launch Down Under.

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