GWM’s value for money Steed 6

Chi­nese brand takes aim at es­tab­lished bakkie man­u­fac­tur­ers

The Star Early Edition - - NEW MODELS - DE­NIS DROPPA

HINESE brand Great Wall Mo­tors (GWM) has launched its sixth-gen­er­a­tion range of Steed bakkies in South Africa.

Con­trary to the usual seven-year life­spans of es­tab­lished mar­ket play­ers like the Toy­ota Hilux, GWM has churned out an up­graded or all­new Steed on av­er­age ev­ery 18 months since the one-ton­ner first en­tered our mar­ket in 2007. It’s part of the Chi­nese brand’s mis­sion to gain cred­i­bil­ity and ac­cep­tance in a highly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket.

GWM’s prod­ucts are ever im­prov­ing and it’s es­tab­lished it­self as one of the bet­ter Chi­nese brands, although it did have some re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues with the now-discontinued 2.5-litre tur­bod­iesel DCi en­gine used in the Steed 5.

As has been the trend with suc­ces­sive Steed ranges, ver­sion six is a step up over its pre­de­ces­sor in terms of re­fine­ment and per­ceived build qual­ity, but still of­fers a sub­stan­tial price sav­ing over the likes of big play­ers like Hilux, Isuzu KB, and Ford Ranger.

Steed 6 is avail­able only as a dou­ble cab in two spec lev­els sell­ing for R294 900 (SX model) and R319 900 (Xs­cape model), both of them pow­ered by GWM’s ex­ist­ing 2-litre tur­bod­iesel VGT en­gine with out­puts of 105kW and 305Nm. They’re both six-speed man­u­als with rear-wheel drive, but 4x4 ver­sions will be added to the range next year.

I drove the top-of-the-range Steed 6 Xs­cape de­riv­a­tive at this week’s me­dia launch, and it’s the safest GWM bakkie to date with fea­tures like six airbags, ABS brakes, sta­bil­ity con­trol, hill-start as­sist, and a tyre-pres­sure mon­i­tor. It’s also com­pre­hen­sively equipped with com-

Cforts like leather seats, elec­tric height adjustment for the driver’s seat, cruise con­trol, rain-sens­ing wipers, and au­to­matic head­lamps. The Xs­cape also fea­tures some body bling in the form of side steps, roll bar and roof rails. You’ll pay a lot more money – closer to 400 grand – to get all those fea­tures in a Ja­panese or Ger­man one-ton­ner, although GWM ad­mit­tedly still trails the es­tab­lished op­po­si­tion in terms of re­sale value.

The lower-specced Steed 6 SX has cloth seats and only two airbags, but still comes well-stocked with fea­tures like an on­board com­puter, ABS brakes, an audio sys­tem with Blue­tooth and USB support, cli­mate con­trol, rear park sen­sors, and steer­ing that’s height-ad­justable (nei­ther ver­sion has reach adjustment).

Apart from its gen­er­ous spec lev­els the sixth-gen­er­a­tion Steed has taken a step for­ward in re­fine­ment and the qual­ity of its cabin fin­ishes. The dash­board plas­tic is hard, not the classier soft type, but the inte- rior trim­mings are gen­er­ally of a de­cent-look­ing qual­ity, with pi­anoblack trim on the fa­cia and the leather cover over the in­stru­ment panel adding a dash of op­u­lence.

It’s fairly re­fined for a diesel bakkie and noise lev­els are well­con­tained. The 2-litre tur­bod­iesel pulls with ac­cept­able gusto (we didn’t have a load in the back), although some down­shift­ing was nec­es­sary on the up­hills. It’s a slick-shift­ing gear­box, so this was- n’t too much of a chore.

At 5 345 mm the Steed 6 is one of the long­est bakkies in the mar­ket which makes for de­cent rear legroom and load­ing space.

The older Steed 5 range will con­tinue to be sold here in­def­i­nitely as a more value-based work­horse of­fer­ing priced be­tween R154 900 to R229 900, while a more leisure-ori­ented Steed 5E has been in­tro­duced to the line-up with prices rang­ing from R229 900 to R274 500.

Apart from a cos­metic change which makes it look sus­pi­ciously Volk­swa­gen-like, the 5E fea­tures im­prove­ments to noise, vi­bra­tion and harsh­ness, along with a new in­stru­men­ta­tion panel and mod­ernised cen­tre con­sole lay­out.

The 5E is avail­able only as a dou­ble cab, with a choice of 2-litre tur­bod­iesel and 2.4-litre petrol en­gines, in rear-wheel-drive only.

The up­per-grade Xs­cape model comes with a touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem and a tyre-pres­sure mon­i­tor.

A new en­gine has been in­tro­duced to the Steed 5 range to give the brand a com­peti­tor in the en­trylevel diesel one-ton­ner seg­ment. Dubbed the WGT (waste gate turbo), the 2-litre tur­bod­iesel pro­duces out­puts of 78kW and 225Nm.

All Steeds are sold with a fiveyear/100 000km war­ranty and two years/un­lim­ited km road­side as­sis­tance, while a five-year/60 000km ser­vice plan is op­tional. Ser­vice in­ter­vals are ev­ery 10 000km for diesel en­gines and 15 000km for the petrol.

GWM’s new Steed 6 dou­ble cab Xs­cape model fea­tures side steps, roll bar and roof rails and sells for R319 900. Power is pro­vided by a 2-litre tur­bod­iesel.

Steed 6 in­te­rior trim­mings are of de­cent qual­ity with pi­ano black trim on the fas­cia and a leather cover over the in­stru­ment panel.

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