Great Wall Steed boasts a number of improvements, but sadly a five star safety rating isn’t one of them
What is it?
Great Wall’s renamed ute, once called the Wingle, then the V240 and now the Steed.
Wingle apparently means “horse” in Chinese, so that’s where they got the name from – it was already Steed in the UK.
You’ve probably all heard by now the Chinese ute scored a measly two out of five stars for safety in crash tests, the same as its predecessor which has been around for several years.
Although it looks quite different, structurally it’s pretty much the same and that’s where they need to make some changes if they want to get a better score.
Having said that you’ve probably also know the iconic Ford Mustang also scored only two stars.
It hasn’t stopped people buying the famous show pony car and it probably won’t stop them buying the Steed either, not for the price – but it’s pause for thought.
What’s it cost?
Prices start at $24,990 for the 4×2 petrol model, $26,990 for the 4×2 diesel or $29,990 for the top of the line 4×4 diesel.
All prices are drive away.
Tradies like these utes because they’re cheap to buy, farmers because these days they probably can’t afford a Toyota – oh what a feeling.
They run them into the ground, without any feelings of guilt then ditch it and buy another.
Whether it’s petrol or diesel, 4×2 or 4×4, they’re all dual cabs with a back seat and they all come with manual transmission – you can’t get an auto.
They’re all equipped exactly the same too, with faux leather, climate air, 16 alloys, side steps, sports bar, a tray liner and a full size steel spare.
Although Steed comes with a full complement of six airbags and electronic stability control, there’s no rear-view camera – just reverse sensors.
And, if you want navigation, you’ve got to fork out another $1000 for it (tell ’em they’ve got to be joking).
Cruise is also standard, the front seats are heated and power adjustable, plus it’s got auto lights, wipers and interior mirror – with Bluetooth and six-speaker audio.
Tyre pressure monitoring is also fitted.
What’s it like to drive?
We hated it at first.
Available in manual only, it was a chore to drive.
Our test car was the 4×4 diesel with optional satellite navigation.
The small diesel isn’t as torquey as you might anticipate and you have to keep the revs up or there is a very real possibility it will stall.
That was our first couple of days behind the wheel.
After that we started to get the hang of it and suddenly it didn’t feel that bad after all.
You have to keep the tacho above 2000 revs, which is probably the mark where the turbo boost kicks in, but it still doesn’t really get going until 3000 rpm.
For a ute it is reasonably comfortable to drive, with plenty of rear legroom but no reach adjustment for the wheel.
The steering itself is at best vague, with little or no feel on or off centre and you can happily reef the wheel from side to side without any noticeable impact on the direction of travel.
Then there’s the turning circle which is in a word terrible.
It makes parking difficult, with plenty of back and fill required and some roundabouts require up four locks to negotiate.
Rear discs have been added, delivering better stopping power and the intelligent four-wheel drive setup provides torque on demand in auto mode.
Without a load in the back however the ride is fairly truck-like but that’s par for course in a vehicle of this kind, with leaf springs under the back and designed to carry a one-tonne load.
We clocked up 350km at a rate of 8.7L/100km.
Steed is surprisingly good off road.
We took it for a spin down our favourite bush track with no problems at all.
With push button four-wheel drive it goes in and out of low easily and we only grounded the thing once, but that was more our fault than that of the ute.
Indeed, the low range first gear reduction is exceptionally good allowing the ute to be driven without the need for brakes down the steepest incline.
But with only 171mm of ground clearance it is more of a mud digger than a rock hopper.
The tray by the way is 155mm longer than before and measures 1545mm x 1460mm x 480mm.
It can tow a 2000kg braked trailer.
What we like
- Reasonably economical
- Good off road
- Tray liner is fitted standard
- Takes a tonne in the back
What we don’t
- Washed out touch screen
- Air con notifications intrusive
- No unlock button for the doors
- No exterior temperature gauge
- Poor turning circle
What are the alternatives?
Steed is way cheaper than the Japanese offerings, but has plenty of lesser known competitors these days. It’s a mixed bag, with utes from China, India and South Korea.
JMC Vigus 2.4 SLX, from $30,990
No safety rating yet. No electronic stability control (ESC) and only two airbags. 2.4-litre turbo diesel produces 90kW/290Nm (manual only).
Foton Tunland 2.8 dual cab, from $30,990
3-star safety rating. Two airbags but no ESC. Cummins 2.8-litre turbo diesel 120kW/360Nm (manual only).
Mahindra Pik-Up 2.2 dual cab, from $27,990
3-star rating. Only two airbags. No ESC. Looks the pits and not as polished as the Chinese ute. 2.2-litre turbo diesel produces 88kW/280Nm (manual only).
Ssangyong Actyon Sports 2.0 SX dual cab, from $30,990
3-star rating. Two airbags. No ESC. Small diesel cranks out 114kW/360Nm. People that own them swear by them (only one of the group available with an auto).
Tata Xenon 2.2 dual cab, from $25,990
Four star rating. Two airbags and the dual cab version comes with ESC. Diesel delivers 110kW/320Nm (manual only)
Sale or no sale?
For us the lack of an auto is a deal breaker. Diesels go better with autos and this is especially so when it comes to smaller, less torquey diesels like this one where they are better able to harness available power.