The Heat is On.
Men of a certain age, will go dewey eyed when a TV show from the mid-1970’s called The New Avengers is mentioned in conversation. In the days when there were just three terrestrial TV channels, this action drama from ITC was broadcast at 9 pm on a weekday & was the last version of the TV series The Avengers about the UK Secret Service, first broadcast in the early 1960’s. This version offered us three main MI5-type characters, Gambit a crack shot & martial artist, Purdey an acrobatic fighter who could hold her own in any scrap & the one most likely to be remembered by men aged fifty & John Steed, who had appeared in the previous series of the Avengers as the ‘leader’ of the three. This brings us nicely on to Great Wall, which is one of China’s largest vehicle manufacturers
The Steed double-cab pick-up was the company’s first model to arrive in the UK. When they chose a name for their pick-up, I wonder if they had ever watched UK TV in the 1960’s & 70’s ?
As with the Chinese owned MG brand, Great Wall opted for high trim levels with a low cost entry model as it attempts to wrestle business away from the market leading Ford Ranger, Volkswagen Amarok, Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max, Toyota Hilux & Mitsubishi L200. It is powered by a 2.0-litre engine that delivers 143bhp with 310Nm of torque & is driven through a six-speed manual gearbox.
The UK pick-up market like the competitors in it, is tough & with a new Mitsubishi L200 arriving here shortly, it’s only going to get tougher still. Both the Ranger & Amarok are at the top end of the market in refinement, as well as with cost, whilst the Navara, D-Max & Hilux make up the middle ground. The current L200 gets a welcome replacement which should lift it back into contention, although it has still sold really well in the past couple of years because of it’s value for money costs. Furthermore, unlike Ford, Mitsubishi, Isuzu, Toyota & Mitsubishi, Great Wall are concentrating on the biggest sector of the pick-up market, the double-cab 4×4, as have the other ‘new kids on the block,’ VW with the Amarok. Great Wall have basically targeted the cheaper end of the pick-up market & are aiming to capitalise on it’s prices with the three models in the range costing from £14,998 for the entry level S up to £16,998 for my test model the SE.
When the Steed arrived it did appear to be smaller than it’s rivals both in road presence & in it’s load capabilities. On closer inspection, the load bed length was just 1,380 mm compared to the Ranger double cab at 1,549 mm & the bed width of 1,460mm is some way smaller than the Ford at 1,520 mm. The Steed also falls behind the market leaders when it comes to towing, with a capacity of just 2.5 tonnes, Both Ford and Isuzu have a 3.5-tonne towing capability. The double cab offers plenty of room for the two front passengers, but it’s a different story in the back. There’s not a lot of legroom in the rear for those over six fe
My test model, the range-topping Steed SE comes as standard with a body-coloured hard top for the rear load area & also offers the user black roof top rails. The good news is that even the basic S models is offered with 16″ alloys, rear parking sensors, body coloured bumpers, chrome door handles & door mirrors, leather upholstery, individually heated front seats, a leather gear knob & steering wheel, air-con, Four speaker Alpine double DIN CD/ USB/RDS radio, Bluetooth hands-free mobile phone connectivity, MP3 connection & steering wheel audio controls. ABS brakes with EBD electronic brakeforce distribution is standard.
Driving the Steed is easy & it’s a comfortable cabin to sit in. Around town you’ll notice the notchy gear change, but once up into sixth gear & on the motorway the Steed is quite happy to tootle along at 70 mph. The cabin is quite noisy though, but having said that all pick-up cabs are noisy & this one’s no worse than any of the others I ‘ve been in. Hard suspension, another pick-up trait, means that pot holes & bumps are felt a lot more than in a normal road car. The main negatives here are that the steering can best be described as vague & the brakes need working hard when you want to slow down, something that could catch you out.
As a place to sit, even with the leather & Bluetooth MP3 stereo, the cabin itself feels dated, like something from the 1990’s. Strangely the roof lining in black, appears to be the highest quality part of the interior. The glove box opener has a sharp bit that you can feel when unlocking it . The reality is that it’s important to remember that the Steed is competitively priced.
In conclusion, the Great Wall Steed offers those who need an entry level 4X4, a pretty good package, costing almost half the price of the top of the range versions from Ford & Volkswagen. However, it isn’t going to cut it for those who need to do more than drive across a field with a sub 1 tonne payload. Perhaps the biggest problem though for the Steed is the fact that the mew Mitsubishi arrives in the UK shortly & the L200 has always been the closest to the price of the Steed of the established competition. Add in the success of the Isuzu D-Max & even the latest updates to the Steed still leave it way behind the competition.
Improving, but still some way from being top of the class. 2/5.