GWM’s value for money Steed 6
Chinese brand takes aim at established bakkie manufacturers
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.