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Car reviews - Great Wall - Steed - Dual Cab 4x4

Our Opinion

We like
Manual gearshift action, payload, ride quality, pricing
Room for improvement
Towing capacity, footwell width, over-assisted steering, over-eager stability control, no standard rearview camera

Gallery

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Great Wall logo9 Dec 2016

Price and equipment

THE eventual flagship of the Great Wall Steed range – once the ‘hose-out’ rubber-floored dual-cab versions as well as single-cab and cab-chassis models are brought in – this 4x4 dual-cab diesel is priced from $30,990 plus on-roads, although the brand reintroduced itself to Australia with a driveway launch price of $29,990.

In contrast to its alleged target market of tradies, the standard features list is far from spartan, as it sits on 16-inch alloy wheels, with man-made ‘leather’ trim, carpeted floors, power windows and heated exterior mirrors, heating for the front seats and climate control, a six-speaker sound system with USB (with the slot not capable of charging) and Bluetooth, side steps and a sports bar.

The driver gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, cruise control (using steering wheel-mounted buttons) and a centre display with trip computer and plenty of other information, but no digital speed readout.

Some of the vehicles tested at the launch earlier this year were equipped with a reversing camera as part of a $1000 option pack that also includes satellite navigation – both of which should probably be standard.

Interior

The cabin is a no chore to inhabit, with carpet beneath the feet and man-made ‘leather’ beneath the rump, as well as some soft-touch plastics (and some not-so-nice bits as well).

It all seems to contradict the brand’s stated aim of slipping in beneath the more lavishly-equipped (and priced) utes to get a chunk of the genuine workhorse market.

The driver gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel – which has illuminated phone, cruise, audio and trip computer controls – and it’s a nice unit but sadly it’s still a tilt-only setup.

The steering conspires with the high-set driver’s seat to sit a little higher than is ideal, but there’s enough headroom to spare width within the footwell is a little tight. Seated in the rear behind our own driving position we did not not struggle for space for legs or head, but it’s not cavernous in the rear.

The seat angles are a little too close to 90 degrees for absolute comfort but short trips wouldn’t be an issue as seat comfort is reasonable.

The cabin refinement is within segment norms as it doesn’t suffer from excessive engine or exterior noise.Engine and transmission

The facelifted Great Wall ute has no automatic transmission option – the only gearbox on offer is a six-speed manual gearbox, which has an admirably good shift action it’s a nice gearbox to use and that’s a good thing because it gets a lot of work.

The Euro5-compliant 2.0-litre common-rail turbo-diesel four-cylinder produces just 110kW at 4000rpm and 310Nm of torque from 1800 through to 2800rpm – from behind the wheel it needed at least 2000rpm on board to get away at anything resembling pace.

It’s well short of acceptable for the marketplace – Isuzu’s long-serving D-Max looks muscular by comparison at 130kW and 380Nm, Nissan’s single-turbo-diesel entry-level Navara boasts 120kW and 403Nm and the Triton offers 133kW and 430Nm.

The Steed has an official combined fuel economy figure of 9.0 litres per 100km and it sat about a litre above that for most of our time in the vehicle, but its thirst is not class-leading and doesn’t make up for the lack of grunt.

The lined tray has four tie-down points to restrain its payload up to 1010kg and there’s a braked towing capacity of two tonnes, but the absence of horsepower would mean the patience of a saint might well be required if fully laden.

Ride and handling

A double wishbone front and leaf-sprung rear suspension delivers a reasonable ride quality but that improves with a few hundred kilos in the tray, but as mentioned the lacklustre outputs will be impacted by extra weight.

The handling side of the equation is also far from segment averages, impacted most severely by the over-assisted power steering that leaves the driver with little idea as to what’s happening with the nose.

If the driver is prepared to stir the gearbox and assign some faith to the front end then slow vehicle lanes aren’t going to be required, but load it to the hilt and that might change.

Unsealed surfaces are going to present more issues for the driver as the steering vagueness is compounded by a paranoid stability control system.

Slow-speed work is fine – getting around a hardware store carpark for example – but once on a country road the hyperactive power steering quickly erodes confidence in the front end undue body roll and a twitchy unladen rear don’t help either.

Off-road work is viable from a transmission perspective, given the presence of low range in the 4x4, but ground clearance sits at a low 171mm across the range – a VW Passat Alltrack is no rock-hopper and it’s listed at 174mm – so caution when clambering over rocks would be advised.

Safety and servicing

Crash test rating organisations and the Chinese manufacturers have not always seen eye to eye and as yet the new Steed is unrated by ANCAP – the last time they tested this vehicle was in 2009 and it ranked as a two-star vehicle.

The 2016 version’s safety features list suggests it would go closer to a five-star ranking – it includes six airbags, stability and traction control, tyre pressure and temperature monitoring.

There’s also a full-size spare wheel, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming centre mirror, halogen headlights, LED tail-lights, daytime running lights, front foglights, hill-start assist, lap-sash seat belts for all five occupants, rear parking sensors but no standard reversing camera.

The headlights are below par on both beams and even at the highest point of adjustment were too low in automatic mode it refused to implement high beam – it complied once switched to manual lighting mode.

The car also kicked off warning chimes for the lights being left on when in full automatic mode.

Servicing is not capped price and is needed every 12 months or 15,000km, and the manufacturer covers the vehicle with a three-year/100,000km warranty, which includes three years free roadside assistance from the resurrected dealer network now numbering more than 50.

Verdict

There’s obvious improvement from the Great Wall breed with its new Steed, but it still has some way to go before it starts to cause serious concern for other light-commercial utes. Driveability remains an issue in comparison to the ever-improving segment leaders and while it is priced to attract buyer interest, its powerplant and capacities fall short.

Rivals

Mahindra Genio dual-cab, from $27,990 driveaway
The strange-looking Indian dual cab undercuts the Steed for price but does plenty to suggest its a viable alternative to the Chinese product. Within sight of the segment norms for ride quality and refinement, the Mahindra isn’t over-endowed with horsepower either but is a reasonable alternative for the outlay.

Isuzu D-Max SX dual-cab, from $42,900 plus on-road costs
The Japanese brand’s Thai-built ute has a solid fan base for its robust and flexible driveline – which looks positively powerful compared to the Chinese and Indian competition. The D-Max has solid payload and towing credentials, as well as 130kW and 380Nm, a five-speed manual and the availability of an automatic with the same number of ratios.

Mitsubishi Triton GLX+ dual-cab, from $36,990 plus on-road costs
The Japanese manufacturer sharpened its pricing pencil on Triton and it’s a value for money proposition, particularly in GLX+ guise. A quiet and useful powerplant with 133kW and 430Nm (via six-speed manual or five-speed auto) with which it tows 3100kg, the Triton is well equipped and refined, just a little different in the looks department.

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