Great Wall Steed


Great Wall Steed, profile
Great Wall Steed, front
Great Wall Steed, Tracker model
Great Wall Steed, action

CHOOSING a pick-up truck as your opening gambit when entering a brand new marketplace might seem like a dodgy strategy.

But when Great Wall brought the Steed to the UK last year, making it the first Chinese-branded motor to go on sale here, the company was definitely playing to its strengths.

Founded in 1976, the firm has specialised in trucks for much of it's life - only starting production of family saloons in its home country five years ago after gaining government approval.

With only the serious load-luggers to concentrate on up until then, Great Wall has become a market leader for SUVs in China and dipped its toes in export markets in places such as Australia, South Africa and Italy.

So perhaps it shouldn't have come as such a surprise that the Steed is actually pretty good looking as far as pick-ups go.

The elevated ride height, huge wheel arches, imposing headlights and chunky front grille are all typical of the type and certainly wouldn't look out of place next to many if this motor's more established competitors. It certainly can't be accused of lacking road presence.

The Tracker is one of two special editions introduced this year on top of the original S and SE variants - the Chrome being the other one.

All are four-door, double cab affairs - the most popular format for pick-ups in the UK - with plenty of room to seat five, a 1,050kg payload area and a 2,500kg braked towing capacity.

It's pretty standard fare and the Chinese have chosen to use aggressive pricing allied to reasonable spec as they try to gain a foothold in the market.

It's the cheapest pick-up around with the entry-level S model available for a pre-VAT price of £13,998 - bearing in mind that the VAT can be written off if you're registered and buying it for work.

The range-topping SE will set you back a couple of grand more while the Tracker and Chrome sit slap bang in the middle at £14,998 before VAT.

Those prices become even more attractive when you realise that all Steeds come with selectable four-wheel drive, a leather interior, heated front seats, air conditioning, Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone connectivity and steering-wheel audio controls as standard.

The leather, however, won't be the best you've ever sat on and although well-equipped the interior does reflect that bargain-basement pricing.

Plastics are scratchy and unyielding and the stereo, while a perfectly serviceable Alpine model, is the sort of retrofit unit you pick up at Halfords, with the accompanying small and fiddly switches, rather than being integrated into the console.

That said, everything has a pretty utilitarian and hard-wearing feel, which is usually what's required of a pick-up.

The Tracker is, according to Great Wall, aimed at the country driver who is ‘more at home in wellies and tweed' and as such benefits from practical extras such as off-road tyres, a tow bar, expansive mud-flaps and hard-wearing rubber mats.

And it's fair to say that the driving experience is pretty agricultural too.

Power across the range comes from the same 143 horsepower, 2.0-litre diesel unit and six-speed manual gearbox.

Rear-wheel drive mode is normal but low and high-gear ratio four wheel drive settings can be selected on the fly via simple switches on the dash for more challenging conditions and terrain.

Acceleration is best described as modest and the engine is pretty noisy at all speeds while the steering is vague and the suspension very stiff, so you feel like you're on a trampoline when driving over some of our worst roads.

To a greater or lesser degree, all these foibles are common with pick-ups and the Steed is certainly competitive in terms of running costs, with fuel economy of 34mpg and carbon emissions of 220g/km.

Safety and reliability are always concerns when imports appear from previously untried nations and it has to be noted that, although the Steed features the usual airbags and ABS brakes, a stability control system isn't even an option and the car hasn't been rated yet by the Euro-NCAP crash testers.

Great Wall is confident enough in their reliability, though, to have boosted the warranty to a market-leading six years and 125,000 miles since launch.

First forays into a new marketplace are never perfect - just think back to how we Brits initially regarded Japanese and Korean cars - and there is certainly plenty of room for improvement here.


Great Wall Steed Tracker

Price: £17,942

Mechanical: 143bhp, 1,996cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed:87mph

0-62mph: 17 seconds

Combined MPG: 34

Insurance Group: 8

C02 emissions: 220g/km

Bik rating: 35%

Warranty: 6yrs/125,000 miles


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