Great Wall Steed: NZ's cheapest double cab ute tested
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Business is booming in the ute market, with the segment representing almost a quarter of all new cars registered this year.
The popularity of utes has been underscored by the arrival of the Mercedes X-Class, the first luxury car maker to release a ute in New Zealand, and the soon-to-arrive HSV Sportcat and extreme Ford Ranger Raptor.
But those new entrants are all big-ticket items. What if all you’re after is a basic workhorse with a tray in the back and radio up front? Does the humble worker’s ute still exist? Great Wall claims to have an answer.
What’s this Steed?
It’s the cheapest brand new double-cab ute sold here. Gone is the V-Series nameplate, replaced with Steed, a name that’s been used in Europe for more than a decade.
Prices start at $24,990 for a petrol 4x2 and top out at $29,990 for a diesel 4x4.
The four-model range is available only as a double-cab configuration with a manual gearbox. Petrols are five-speed, diesels gain one more cog.
In 2017, the petrol proved to be more popular, accounting for more than 60 per cent of the 169 Steed sales.
In 2018, 40 Steed utes have so far been registered on our roads. That’s less than two days’ worth of Ford Ranger sales, currently New Zealand’s favourite ute and outright model.
Everything you see is fitted as standard which, to Great Wall’s credit, is a unique value proposition in this segment.
Standard kit includes side steps, stainless steel sport bar, mirror-mounted indicators, tray liner with four heavy-duty tie-down points, tow bar and 16-inch alloy wheels with a full-size spare.
In the cabin, you’ll find heated seats, cruise control, Bluetooth for phone and audio, tyre-pressure monitoring system, steel scuff plates and leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Completely new styling upfront with all-new chrome grille, front bumper and headlamps.
The Steed is longer (305mm) and higher (30mm) than its predecessor. That means there is more usable space in the tray which is now 155mm longer. Both engines have been updated and achieve Euro V emission compliance.
How does it drive?
Remember what a mid-1990s double-cab drove like? Yeah, like that. Utilitarian, unsophisticated and soft. This comes as no surprise given the price and the suspension setup — double-wishbone independent front suspension and leaf-sprung solid rear axle , both of which will bounce around on an uneven road when unloaded.
The dual cab has an approach and departure angle of 24 and 21 degrees respectively when you head off-road.
All Steed models are fitted with a Bosch ESP system including anti-lock brakes, electronic brake distribution, traction control and hill hold control systems.
Will it haul what I need?
Potentially. Great Wall claims both diesel and petrol models have a payload of 1010kg and a braked towing capacity of 2000kg.
The petrol unit is a turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder producing 100kW and 205Nm.
The diesel will pull harder with a turbocharged 2.0-litre common rail producing 110kW and 310Nm.
Petrol models are mated to a five-speed, diesels to a six-speed, and 4x4 models utilise a BorgWarner transfer case.
Safety. Despite claims that the Steed is “all-new”, the updated styling covers underpinnings that differ little to that of the Great Wall V-Series, which debuted in 2006.
Despite the addition of six airbags and electronic stability control, the Great Wall Steed achieved only a 2-star safety rating.
There are no top-tether child restraint anchorages and the news doesn’t get any better for adult occupants.
Ancap explains: “Excessive footwell deformation, separation of footwell panels and pedal displacement was observed in the frontal offset crash test.
“Steering column components were a potential source of knee injury for the driver, and dash components were a potential injury source for both the driver and passenger.
“Protection of the driver and front passenger from whiplash injuries was also marginal.”
Great Wall says the Steed offers “outstanding levels of performance, value, safety and comfort”. You could argue that only one of these claims is valid.
The Great Wall Steed comes with a three-year/100,000km warranty including roadside assist and a “service price menu”.