Paul Murrell
By Paul Murrell
IN A NUTSHELL: The Great Wall Ute has previously sold almost exclusively on price, and there have been recall and importer issues. The new model still sells on price, but there’s more to it than that.
The Great Wall ute finally has a name, and we’re glad the company didn’t stick with the Chinese model name of Wingle. It actually means “horse”, so Steed (as used in the UK and here) isn’t such a huge leap.
Great Wall Steed

Great Wall sees the utility market as one of great potential in Australia. The ute market is growing in Australia at 11% per annum, compared to 2.8% for the overall market. To meet the potential, the company acknowledges it has to overcome its challenging beginnings and restore confidence in the brand.

The Great Wall Steed will continue to attract buyers, in the first instance, with a value-for-money story. The base petrol 4×2 dual cab ute starts at $24,990, driveaway. There are also two diesel variants, one in 4×2 and the other 4×4.

To tackle the likes of Toyota Hilux, Holden Colorado, Isuzu D-Max, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan Navara, Mazda BT-50 and VW Amarok will take more than a price advantage. We’d suggest about the only competitor in the class that the Steed will comfortably trounce will be the Foton Tunland. And as any business owner will tell you, downtime equals lost money, so reliability will be a key factor in the success or otherwise of the Great Wall Steed. The Steed has a few features that set it apart from the mainstream utes, starting with all wheel drive. Most of the other utes run 2WD on the road, but the Steed has Borg-Warner’s Torque On Demand full-time 4WD system. The two notable exceptions to the part-time 4WD rule are the Triton in most variants, and the VW Amarok automatic.  The dual-cab’s tray is also long at 1545mm, beaten only by the Hilux with 1560mm.  And the Steed also has rear disc brakes, where the others have rear drums.

On the negative side ground clearance is a mere 171mm, at least 40mm lower than ideal, there’s no automatic transmission and a 2000kg tow rating isn’t very impressive.

The Great Wall Steed is a reasonably attractive looking crew cab ute, although this will probably carry little weight with intending buyers. The odd rear bumper unit is about its only really distinctive feature. It looks a lot better in bright metallic colours, and is helped by the standard rear roll bar, roof rails, side steps and 16-inch alloy wheels.

There’s no doubting that the new Steed is an evolution from the previous model Great Wall ute, but much more up-to-date.

Great Wall Steed dash
“It is a workhorse, and expected to earn its keep.”
What’s it like on the inside?
The interior is certainly robust, but we question the durability of some of the finishes (such as the fake metallic trim and piano black) and think that careless treatment will mean it looks pretty shabby after a year or two. The fake leather trim, however, looks particularly hard-wearing and according to sources at Haval, will outlast the real thing. It should also be reasonably easy to wipe clean. Sure to be appreciated are heated seats, 6-way power driver’s seat (but with no memory), cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and climate control. Simple rotary controls are easy to operate, even without taking your eyes off the road, and unambiguous. Power windows are auto down but need to be held for up. Leather clad steering wheel and stainless steel scuff plates are unexpected luxuries in this category.

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.

Great Wall Steed Interior
Great Wall Steed interior
Performance, ride and handling?

The Steed is unequivocally aimed at tradies and farmers. It is a workhorse, and expected to earn its keep. Very few people will consider it as an SUV, or use it for leisure/pleasure, although for many owners, it will have to do weekday work duty and double up as weekend transport.

Great Wall insist the Steed is more car-like than truck-like and the new model is more than a simple facelift. It has to appeal to smart and pragmatic buyers who won’t be convinced of the need to pay more than they have to. The appeal is underscored by the advertising strap line “Built to work”. Clever.

We had to adapt to the indicator wand being on the left side of the steering column, but that was a lot less concerning than the massively over-assisted steering. Any idea of what the front wheels were doing, or which way they were pointing was almost completely absent. It was worse with a load in the tray.

Performance in the petrol model was relatively leisurely, but it didn’t struggle, even when carrying a fair load and two occupants. Like most of its ilk, it needed to be stirred along, and even slight inclines necessitated a change from fifth (the petrol model gets a five-speed manual transmission) to fourth. When asked about an auto option, GWM pointed out that 95% of the domestic Chinese market utes are manual, so it looks like we have to go along with them.

The petrol engine is a 2.4-litre unit with multi-point fuel injection. Outputs are 100kW and 205Nm and it meets Euro V emissions compliance. It can only be had in 4×2 format.

The diesel variants use a 2.0-litre common rail unit producing 110kW at 4000rpm and 310Nm of torque at between 1800 and 2800rpm. The diesel can be had with either 4×2 or 4×4 (it’s worth mentioning the 4×4 variant is an all-wheel drive) and comes with a six-speed manual transmission, although as with the petrol model, top gear was only really useful on the flat.

Great Wall Steed
“the Steed is an honest, hard-working, value-for-money alternative…”

We expected the diesel version to be more flexible and even perhaps more relaxing but it was difficult to discern much real difference in performance or characteristics.

Ride was bouncy and the handling inspired about as much confidence as many other crew cab ute – that’s to say, not much. The leaf sprung rear end could be encouraged to skip around when unladen and entering corners and bends required discretion. If this sounds harsh, we should point out that most other utes in the class aren’t much better, and some of them cost considerably more. On the other hand, the GWM specialist who followed us when we were pushing the H6 through its paces on some very challenging roads managed to keep up far better than we might have expected, so it pays to get in tune with your ute, drive it to its strengths and, presumably, learn its limitations and idiosyncrasies to get the best out of it.

Claimed fuel consumption for the petrol model wasn’t stated, but we managed 10.1L/100km over our varied drive. Launch consumption figures are rarely typical, but we’d venture to suggest this figure won’t be far from what most owners will see. The diesel 4×4 variant is claimed to get 9.0L/100km and we were close with 9.5L/100km.

Around town It’s a ute, so apart from tradies and farmers, couriers and other around-town delivery companies will be looking at it as a possibility. The Steed is no better or no worse around town than any other crew cab ute.

Visibility is reasonable, so long as you remember that the tray can obscure quite a lot, and that can include small children and cyclists. We’ve mentioned before that, at this time, a reverse camera isn’t available, but there are plenty of after-market items.

Open Roads The Steed, either petrol or diesel, has no trouble keeping up with traffic and travelling at highway speeds. However, the light steering means you are always feeling the need to correct the steering and the floaty ride ensures you plan well ahead for stopping, although this is well assisted by the manual gearbox.

The fake leather seats are quite supportive and comfortable. The drone from the diesel powerplant, however, is tiring and intrusive. All in all, the Steed will never be your first choice for long distance touring, but once again, this is not what it was designed for.

Towing The Steed will almost certainly be called upon to carry significant loads in its tray, and tow trailers or similar.

Although we weren’t given dimensions for the new model (we’re still chasing them up), the new Steed is 305mm longer than the model it replaces. The rear tub (which is fitted with a liner as standard and four heavy duty tie-down points) is 155mm longer. The ute is rated with a payload of 1010kg (good for the class) and a braked towing capacity of 2000kg (maximum towball download is an acceptable 200kg). A 2-tonne towing capacity is well under par for the class, and before we can assess if this is a real-world usable figure, we’ll need to know the GCM.

Great Wall Steed tough workhorse
Great Wall Steed payload
How safe is it?

It is one of my concerns that people who use commercial vehicles spend more time in them than most people spend in passenger vehicles, so the safety aspect is perhaps even more important.

The previous Great Wall ute was roundly criticized for its poor safety performance, but the new one has made great strides forward, although it hasn’t been ANCAP tested and we were unable to find any overseas ratings either.

It gets ESP and six airbags, which is a major improvement over the two that are fitted to some of the competitors. The Steed also gets hill assist control, emergency brake distribution and brake assist. There’s also tyre pressure monitoring and reverse radar.

The centre passenger in the rear seat gets the reassurance of a three-point seat belt (some still persist with a lap belt). Sadly, in this category, that relatively sparse list still counts as better than average.

The petrol engine is a 2.4-litre unit with multi-point fuel injection. Outputs are 100kW and 205Nm and it meets Euro V emissions compliance. It can only be had in 4×2 format.

The diesel variants use a 2.0-litre common rail unit producing 110kW at 4000rpm and 310Nm of torque at between 1800 and 2800rpm. The diesel can be had with either 4×2 or 4×4 (it’s worth mentioning the 4×4 variant is an all-wheel drive) and comes with a six-speed manual transmission, although as with the petrol model, top gear was only really useful on the flat.

Why would you buy it?
In a word, basic. There’s a CD player with AM/FM radio with Bluetooth, auxiliary input, USB input and iPod input. The Steed gets Quite simply, the Steed is an honest, hard-working, value-for-money alternative to any number of other utes that are no better, or only marginally better. For the target market of tradies and farmers, the price/value argument is uncontestable.
Article excerpt from Practical Motoring. Read full article on Practical Motoring
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*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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