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First drive: Great Wall Steed

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Review

The UK has been waiting for the “imminent” arrival of Chinese manufacturers for several years now, but Great Wall’s Steed is still just one of the first to make it over.

Imported by IM Group, the same company that brings Subaru and Isuzu to the UK, the Steed is a lower cost, double cab pick-up aimed at attracting tradespeople looking for a good deal.

The Steed is the lowest priced double-cab 4x4 pick-up in the UK at £13,998 plus VAT.

Pick-up manufacturers have been increasing interior comfort, quality and lifestyle features which has left a gap at the lower end of the market.

Isuzu’s new D-Max has stepped up quality to help it compete with models from Mitsubishi and Nissan and it allows Great Wall to slot in below it in IM Group’s brand profile.

Exterior design is well thought out, so much so that the Steed won’t look out of place on UK roads.

The interior design is quite basic with an aftermarket look stereo system, slightly wobbly fixtures and fittings with noticeably loose door panelling and screw heads exposed in the door sills.

However, both trim levels S and SE come with heated leather as standard and the Steed is generously equipped with 16-inch alloys, Thatcham-approved Category 1 alarm, Bluetooth connectivity, adaptable 4x4, ABS, EBD, as well as driver and front passenger airbags.

The cargo bed capacity is 1,380 x 1,460 x 480mm and looks more capable than the interior of standing up to the sort of abuse it will face as a commercial load-lugger.

The SE comes with a £2,000 premium, but the customer gets a body-coloured hard canopy, chrome trim features, load bay liner and rear parking sensors.

The interior spec is exactly the same on the SE, so customers won’t be missing out if they go for the lower priced S and don’t want a rear box and the extra features.

The seating position is high with a good view of the road ahead, there’s ample head room and the steering wheel is adjustable but only for rake, not reach.

The 141bhp 2.0-litre diesel is not particularly refined, sending quite a bit of vibration through the steering wheel and gear stick, but it’s not too bad once up to motorway cruising.

There wasn’t an opportunity to drive the Steed with a partial or full load so it’s unclear how the driving dynamics and suspension would be affected.

AM did test it off-road across muddy tracks, ruts, adverse cambers and quite steep inclines which were all tackled with ease.

The maximum towing capacity is 2,000kg with a braked trailer, which is below competitors, but Great Wall managing director Paul Hegarty said this hadn’t been a sticking point when demonstrating the Steed’s capabilities at equestrian events.

He also used Apple’s iPod as an example when asked about UK customer perception of Chinese build quality.

Hegarty said: “All of Apple’s products are made in China and most of what you have at home is made in China so why should cars be any different?”

However, reliability is unproven so buyers and businesses will be taking a chance to a certain extent.

The 40-strong dealer network won’t have extensive geographical coverage so it will be offering to drive out to customers that want a test drive or service within a 20 mile radius.

There will also be fixed price servicing and a three year/60,000 mile warranty in place.

It will fall with the network to give customers peace of mind for choosing to go with a new brand.
 

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