James Kelly

Great Wall is probably the best known of the budget priced utes currently on the market in Australia. The brand has a bit of history Down Under and this is really something of a second coming.

Like the majority of Great Wall’s models, success in their homeland has been consistent, however, Great Wall is a brand on the move. After recently reviewing one of their SUVs, now sold in Australia as Haval, it’s easy to see there is a future for the marque in developed markets if they can play the long game.

Great Wall Steed

In terms of getting the Steed’s timing right, it would be hard to script things any better. Australian’s are ute crazy and after a smashing 2016, the segment continues to boom this year.

The 2017 Great Wall Steed is not just another ute, it represents an opportunity for the brand to re-establish itself and find a foothold in the new vehicle market. It also offers buyers on a budget the chance to get a slice of the lifestyle vehicle action with some new car smell.

Great Wall has supplied us their top of the line Steed, a 4×4 diesel model. On the surface, at $29,990 drive away, the Steed represents strong value for money.

For the outlay, the Steed does come with an impressive list of standard equipment. Daytime running lamps, front fog lamps, rear parking sensors, heated front seats, climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, auto headlamps, auto wipers, auto dimming rear-view mirror, a six-speaker sound system with CD/AM/FM/MP5/USB/AUX and Bluetooth for phone and audio connectivity are all included, there’s no need to reach for the options list.

“Steed does come with an impressive list of standard equipment”

The first thing to notice is how much better the Steed looks when compared to older Great Wall models. Our test Steed, in Arizona Orange, looks the part. The sports bar, side steps and tub liner, which are also included, add to the styling and character of the Steed. We were not quite as sold on the bling factor up front by way of the new chrome grille.

Importantly, despite the low price point, the exterior of the Steed doesn’t look cheap.

The interior of the Steed is simplistic but well executed. The driving position is comfortable, there is a good range of adjustment courtesy of the 6-way electric seat. We are big fans of the Comfort-Tek material on the seats, this artificial leather has a nice feel to it, and importantly, it is far more durable and sustainable in its production than genuine animal skin.

When sitting in the Steed, the absence of an infotainment screen is rather conspicuous. The Bluetooth did its job without fuss, as did all the interior functions. A screen would be a nice addition to the package, however, you can’t stray too far from the price. The Steed offers similar levels of equipment to rival utes that are far more expensive.

What is a good idea, is the large dials that operate the climate control system. The tradies and ute enthusiasts we spoke to about the Steed were happy to sing the benefits of old-school dials when winter kicks in and gloves become an essential part of the dress code.

Under the bonnet sits a Euro V emissions compliant 2.0-litre common rail turbo-diesel engine, developing 110kW of power and 310Nm of torque. The transmission is a six-speed manual, at this stage, there is no automatic option available. This may take the Steed off the shopping list of some buyers chasing the lifestyle aspect of ute ownership.

The manual transmission shouldn’t be instantly dismissed, the unit supplied here is very easy to live with if you don’t mind using your left foot.

Driving the Steed is a pleasant enough experience, but it does need to be revved hard to extract performance. It’s not that quick off the line and on slight inclines, it can run out of puff relatively quickly. With some weight in the back and loaded seats, it becomes obvious more grunt is required.

When driving in town, the Steed sits at a good height. It doesn’t feel like you are trying to move the titanic through congested traffic.

On the highway, when cruising speed is reached, the Steed shines as a comfortable ute to get around in. It has no trouble keeping pace with other traffic.

Another area of note is steering. It’s nicely weighted, however, the Steeds steering lacks anything resembling precision. This is a point of debate with other utes we have tested this year.

As with all utes, the suspension calibration is important for ride quality with an unladen tray. The Steed’s suspension tune is a good one, in combination with the sensibly sized 16-inch alloy wheels and lower ground clearance the ride is settled.

On the dirt, the Steed utilises an Intelligent 4WD system with a BorgWarner transfer case. In a stint of off-road driving, the Steed proved itself to be very capable. On slippery terrain, the Steed was able to easily account for the conditions and get around in a very no-nonsense way. This part of our test drive inspired confidence that the Steed could find a following with those who enjoy some weekend off-roading.

The combined fuel cycle claim is 9.0L/100km. After our week of testing, the Steed returned a very efficient consumption figure of 8.6L/100km. Our drive did include a significant stint of highway driving. If your commute consists of city traffic, achieving the ADR figure will be challenging.

When the focus turns to safety, Great Wall has lifted the number of standard inclusions. Safety was often an area of criticism when analysing the brand’s previous models.

The Steed looks to rectify this and is equipped with six airbags, including full-length side-curtain airbags, worthwhile inclusions that are not found in some of the premium ute models currently on sale.

There is also a Bosch sourced electronic stability program with ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist and hill-start assist control. A tyre pressure monitoring system is also standard.

“off-road driving, the Steed proved itself to be very capable”

Not long after our loan of the Steed had ended, a press release from ANCAP broke the news of only a two-star safety rating. Obviously, Great Wall was expecting a better result. In the aftermath of this outcome, Great Wall didn’t attempt to put a positive spin on things like other manufacturers have tried to do when faced with similar situations. Instead, Great Wall has stated there is a need to dramatically improve the Steed’s ANCAP performance.

Steed owners get a three-year/100,000km warranty with roadside assistance over that period. We think this is a bit light and would like to see warranty coverage increased to five years.

When considering ownership costs, the Steed diesel requires servicing every 12 months/15,000km. This is after an initial service at 5,000km. Great Wall does not have an official capped price service program or publish service pricing, however, dealers will provide the numbers. Over the first three years of ownership, service costs total $2451, making the average trip to the dealership service department $612. The costs do seem a little high for a product aimed at budget conscious buyers.

Utes with sharp pricing like the Steed have already had a telling effect on the market. Some long-serving nameplates from established brands are now regularly advertised at prices not too far north of where the Steed diesel is pitched. This is the biggest threat to Great Wall gaining a foothold in the market with the Steed. So while price plays a significant part in the Great Wall narrative, it will continue to come under threat from aggressive discounting by the recognised Japanese brands. To combat this, Great Wall will need to ensure the Steed continually brings new equipment while maintaining a price advantage over the competition.

There is plenty to like about the 2017 Great Wall Steed, it is a significantly better offering than its predecessor, it’s styling and comfortable interior set a good tone. There is, of course, more work to be done when it comes to safety and engine performance. Fortunately, Great Wall has access to the necessary capital to continually improve the Steed and deliver a more comprehensive product that takes the fight to the establishment.

Article excerpt from Practical Motoring. Read full article on Car Conversation

Ride handling & performance6
 Interior comfort & practicality8
 Technology & safety6
 Value & ownership7


*Great Wall Motors Australia 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 - single cab tray and dual cab sports bar may vary. All prices are driveaway. Metallic paint + $495. E&OE.


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Great Wall Motors Australia