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Driven: Great Wall returns astride the Steed

Starting again: Great Wall Motors is back in business and is hoping its Steed ute will appeal to buyers in the busy LCV segment.

Chinese light-commercial giant Great Wall is resurrected on the back of a Steed

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Great Wall logo8 Sep 2016

FOLLOWING a messy split from former distributor Ateco Automotive, Chinese automotive giant Great Wall has returned to the Australian market under a new factory-backed operation with its new Steed dual-cab light-commercial pick-up.

With Australian sales of China’s best-selling ute trickling to a halt under the importer amid a dispute with the parent company, the brand is returning to again offer tradies and farmers a cut-price workhorse.

But the Great Wall team is also acutely aware it has bridges to rebuild with its dealers and customers – neither of which was considered an easy task – the latter numbering more than 45,000 in Australia.

Great Wall management claims to have 51 dealers back on board for the relaunch of the brand in Australia, from a peak of 70-odd dealers and service centres during the Ateco era.

Great Wall Motors Australia general manager Tony Carraturo said customer support was top of the list of demands for the factory-backed effort in Australia.

“In all our discussions with dealers and existing owners, customer support was identified as a critical element for the new Great Wall,” he said.

“We have listened and responded. The new Great Wall will be built on the foundation of outstanding customer support … our aim is to provide a new level of backing for owners and dealers.”

Great Wall Motors Australia national marketing manager Bill So said he believed the brand has significant potential in Australia despite the “challenging beginnings”.

“The factory and the Australian team are committed to restoring confidence in the brand, but that doesn’t come from gimmicky marketing, new dealerships or flashy advertising.

“It comes from hard work and what’s important to the customers, getting systems in place to attend to customers professionally, with parts supply, dealers are well trained and in the event of an issue, getting them back on the road with a minimum of fuss.

“For ute customers, we know down time means lost money. We will rebuild Great Wall through what we do and not just what we say,” he said.

The all-new pick-up – revealed last year – is being offered in 4x2 and 4x4 guises, with petrol power available in the 4x2 only, while the only transmission available for either powerplant for now is a six-speed manual gearbox.

Pricing for the 4x2 petrol model – expected to account for 30 per cent of Steed sales in Australia – starts from $25,990 plus on-road costs, but the launch program brings with its driveaway pricing of $24,990 for the remainder of 2016.

This price slightly undercuts the 4x2 petrol-powered Nissan Navara dual-cab pick-up that starts from $26,490 in DX guise, while the Chinese-built JMC Vigus dual-cab petrol 4x2 costs $24,990 driveaway for the SLX.

Switching to the diesel drivetrain in the 4x2 – also expected to account for 30 per cent of the volume – is priced from $27,990 plus costs, but for the rest of the year is a $26,990 driveaway proposition.

The 4x4 dual-cab diesel will account for the remaining 40 per cent of sales and carries a recommended retail price of $30,990, but slots in beneath the $30K mark by $10 with the driveaway launch price of $29,990.

In 4x4 dual-cab guise, the Steed undercuts most of the top-selling mainstream models including the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton and Isuzu D-Max but is pricier than the equivalent variants of the Mahindra Pik-Up, Tata Xenon and SsangYong Actyon Ute but lines up with the Foton Tunland.

Mr So said the pricing was competitive in the competitive light-commercial pick-up segment and predicted a strong first year of sales for the new ute.

“This is a compelling offer below the market and spec adjusted, it’s a very strong proposition. We think the pricing will drive an annual sales of 5000 units per annum, we can sell more but we want to retain the focus on customer service and care,” according to Mr So.

Great Wall is pitching the Steed in to a market sub-segment it believes has been vacated by the major brands – a well-priced one-tonne workhorse with spec “to make it a bit special,” but fundamentally “built to work”.

The base variant is powered by a Euro 5 fuel-injected 2.4-litre petrol engine producing 100kW and 205Nm, teamed with a five-speed manual gearbox. It consumes 12.4 litres of fuel per 100 km on the official combined cycle.

The diesel drivetrain gets a double wishbone front and leaf-sprung rear suspension setup as well as a six-speed manual and a Euro 5 2.0-litre common-rail turbo-diesel producing 110kW of power at 4000rpm and 310Nm of torque from 1800 through to 2800rpm, claiming an official combined fuel economy figure of 9.0L/100km.

A 1010kg payload for the tubliner-equipped tray, four tie-down points and a braked towing capacity of 2000kg are among its working credentials.

Despite claiming to target farmers and tradies, the solid standard features list across the range includes 16-inch alloy wheels (and a full-size steel spare), man-made Comfort-Tek ‘leather’ trim, carpet floor trim, a tilt only adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshifter, power windows and heated exterior mirrors, heated front seats, climate control, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls, a six-speaker sound system with USB and Bluetooth, side steps and a sports bar.

The safety features list includes automatic headlights and wipers, an auto-dimming centre mirror, tyre pressure monitoring system, six airbags, halogen headlights, LED tail-lights, daytime running lights, front foglights, Bosch electronic stability control, hill-start assistance, five lap-sash seatbelts, rear parking sensors but no reversing camera and no ANCAP rating as yet.

Measuring 5345mm long, 1800mm wide and 1760mm tall, the Steed is 305mm longer than its Great Wall V-Series predecessor and 30mm higher the maker claims the rear tub is 155mm longer but ground clearance sits at 171mm across the range.

It is covered by a three-year, 100,000km warranty with three years of 24/7 free roadside assistance from the national dealer network of more than 50 dealers.

2016 Great Wall Steed pricing
VariantRRPDriveaway*
Petrol 4x2$25,990$24,990
Diesel 4x2$27,990$26,990
Diesel 4x4$30,990$29,990
*Driveaway pricing until end of 2016

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