2016 STEED REVIEW
NEW TO COUNTRY AND READY TO WORK
NO SHOW PONY, THIS NEW UTE FROM GREAT WALL – THE UNUSUALLY NAMED “STEED” – IS A WORKHORSE.
More than just a new model, the 2016 Great Wall Steed marks the relaunch of the Great Wall brand in Australia, moving from third-party import to factory-backed operation, with the aftersales support to match.
And this ute knows its place. It’s a worker, a tool of the trade, priced to please accountants but equipped to keep workers happy. It’s got it’s work cut out, if it’s to make a mark against the likes of Navara, HiLux, D-Max et al, in such a tough sector.
With one specification, picking your Great Wall Steed should be simple – you can choose a 4×2 petrol, 4×2 diesel, or 4×4 diesel – and that’s it.
For the time being the Steed is only available as a dual cab pick-up, with a six-speed manual. There is no auto, no single cab, no cab-chassis – at least not yet, but Great Wall promises that more work-ready models will be coming next year, and an auto is a little further down the track.
Beneath the skin the Steed makes use of a proven mechanical set. It’s broadly based upon the underpinnings of the V200 and V240 series utes sold here previously, along with other known elements like Bosch stability control and a Borg Warner transfer case (on 4×4 models).
“Beneath the skin the Steed makes use of a proven mechanical set.”
- Standard Equipment: Single-zone climate control, artificial leather trim, heated front seats, powered driver’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, side steps, rear sports bar, tubliner, power windows, auto-dimming rear view mirror, LED tail lights, front fog lights, 16-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: CD player, AM/FM radio, USB and Aux inputs, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, six-speaker audio
- Options Available: Touchscreen infotainment with satellite navigation and reverse camera $1000
- Payload: 1010kg petrol, 1020kg diesel
Great Wall describes the Steed as “a workman’s best friend”; inside you’ll find single-zone climate control, a powered driver’s seat, auto dimming mirror, and auto lights and wipers… hardly base work-spec.
There’s also full-floor carpet, artificial leather trim, heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise control buttons.
Vision in all directions is very good, and even the rear chrome bar that obscures the lower section of the rear window doesn’t cause any problems with rear vision, although there is no rear camera (only reverse radar) but GWM tells us a reversing camera should become available next year. Otherwise, it’s a matter of finding an after-market item and having it fitted, something we’d recommend.
The rear seats, in common with most crew cab utes, are more upright than passengers might like, and accessing them requires considerable contortion to get knees past the B-pillar (it will be worse for tall people, one of which I am not). If there’s a third passenger back there, he or she will be very snug between the other two, but at least restrained by a three-point seatbelt.
The fitting of some panels and the carpet in particular is a little slap-dash but overall, the Steed is on a par with most of the competition.
The dash design is contemporary though not cutting-edge, and there were no visible issues with fit and finish, which bodes well for Great Wall’s initial quality impressions.
Some of the interior surfaces don’t quite feel as though they have the heft and solidity of more established ute offerings, and there’s no denying that it feels maybe a little basic in construction.
But not every ute needs to be premium, and as Ford and Volkswagen battle for a premium feel to the accommodation, you will sometimes feel like you need to take your Blunnies off before you get in. The Steed arrives as a decent reminder that work utes should be for work.
“ …is it the best ute you can buy for under $30k? Right now the answer is a resounding yes.”
ON THE ROAD
- Petrol: 100kW/205Nm 2.4 litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol
- Diesel: 110kW/310Nm 2.0 four-cylinder turbo diesel
- Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear wheel drive or low-range four wheel drive
- Suspension: Double wishbone front, leaf-sprung solid rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes
- Steering: Hydraulic power steering
- Towing Capacity: 2000kg braked
It’s on the road that the difference between more established players, like Triton or Colorado, and a Steed becomes apparent. That’s not to say that Steed is a bad drive, it’s just different.
The first, and most apparent difference you’ll feel, is the extreme lightness of the steering. And that weight doesn’t build as speed rises, it stays super light, which some buyers might target as a benefit, particularly if the Steed is put to work for delivery duties.
It’s also got a very slow steering rack, resulting in a flurry or steering-wheel spinning to get in and out of tight spots. Three-point turns become comically over-animated, and even gentle-radius bends end up becoming hand-over-hand turns.
But, that’s the only major glaring on-road difference between the Steed and its competitors.
The launch drive for the Steed didn’t include any off-road activity, so we’ll wait until we have a longer loan to comment on that, but at least 4×4 models come equipped with a push-button system to make things simple.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine hardly leads the pack with 110kW and 310Nm, but it is up to the task.
It’s a little more noisy under load, but settles down to a quiet thrum for steady cruising, and (unladen at least) it doesn’t struggle with the burden of shifting the Steed about.
Without a massive swell of torque on hand, maintaining pace uphill requires some downshifting, where fifth gear might be appropriate in a Ranger, you’ll be looking for fourth (or even third) in the Steed.
But, the six-speed gearbox has a decent shift action, and the clutch is neither too numb, nor too heavy.
Is the Great Wall Steed the best ute you can buy? Well, to be blunt – no. But is it the best ute you can buy for under $30k? Right now the answer is a resounding yes.
The basics are there: it drives quite ok, is finished to a decent standard, and throws in a long-enough list of standard equipment. It may not have the polish of bigger, flasher utes, nor the towing capacity, but is just as work-ready.
Behind the scenes the new factory-backed Great Wall operation in Australia is working to ensure aftersales support (a previous issue for the brand) is better managed. It promises a full spare parts inventory, and speedy resolution of customer qualms.
Will that be enough to steer buyers towards the brand? With low pricing and a growing dealer network servicing key areas in Australia the Steed stands a better chance than the previous toiler. There is certainly nothing wrong with the price, nor the equipment list, but depreciation will likely be a factor.
GWM NEW ZEALAND HEAD OFFICE
Unit 6, 9A Northside Drive,
*Great Wall Motors New Zealand reserves the right to change the information including, but not limited to the models, prices, colors, materials, equipment or other specifications referred to on this site at any time without prior notice. Always consult your Great Wall Motors dealer for latest specifications, availability and pricing. Images for illustration purposes only. All prices are RRP + GST + on road costs. No charge for Metallic paint. E&OE.