First drive: Great Wall Steed

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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 few to make it over.

Imported by IM Group, the same company that brings Subaru and Isuzu to the UK, the Steed is a low 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 which undercuts models like the Mitsubishi L200 by almost £3,000.

Pick-up manufacturers have been increasing interior comfort, quality and lifestyle features of their models, 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 in IM Group’s brand profile.

Exterior design is well thought out, so much so that seeing a Steed on the road would not prompt a second glance as it doesn’t look out of place.

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’s 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 in the UK so buyers and businesses will be taking a chance to a certain extent. The 40-strong dealer network means restricted geographical coverage so dealers 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. It will fall with the network to give customers peace of mind for choosing to go with a new brand.

The Steed falls way below the class-leading Volkswagen Amarok – but you certainly can’t
knock it for the price.

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

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

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. Fleet Van did get a chance to test the Steed off-road across muddy tracks, ruts, adverse cambers and quite steep inclines though and they were all tackled with ease.

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 seats as standard and the Steed is 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 x1,460 x 480mm and looks more capable than the interior of standing up to the sort of abuse it will face in action as a commercial load-lugger.

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

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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