Steed vs Vigus
ALWYN VILJOEN learns how to ask for ‘discount’ in Mandarin
I HAVE long been impressed by Great Wall Motors (GWM), a company I had described as “China’s equivalent of Toyota”.
Just the Research and Development division at GWM employs 6 500 people, many of whom are working on post doctoral research, and GWM plans to increase the R&D staff to 10 000 in the next few months.
They use the latest digital design tools to quickly make and implement feedback from clients. Compare this to the traditonal design approach, which is to model a car with nice lines, use the moulds as long as possible and then design something totally new after five years.
The GWM philosophy is to “improve little by little every day”. Which is why the 2,0-litre VGT Steed Xscape I drove this week is light years from the first Steed I had tied with a rope to a CAM bakkie eight years ago.
The idea back then was to see which of the many Chinese bakkies that were on sale could pull the hardest.
Those old CAM and Steed bakies were about equally matched, but the GWM bakkie went on to become China’s best selling bakkie for eight consecutive years while CAM stopped selling in SA.
China’s top-selling bakkie
The Steed 5 double cab I drove this week shows why the Steeds sells in China like the Hilux does here.
All the major engine parts are made by Bosch, which GWM says “fully guarantees a high quality engine with low noise and fuel consumption”.
The 2,0-litre VGT turbo-diesel makes 105 kW at 4 000 rpm and 305 Nm from 1 800 to 2 800 rpm, sending the power to the rear wheels through a smooth six-speed transmission.
What is most impressive from this advanced high-pressure engine is the lack of turbo lag. For those who need a 4x4, wait a few months, when a Steed 5 will be sold with a BorgWarner electric all-wheel-drive system that shifts on the fly from two high to four high. Four low can be enganged when parked.
Even with only 4x2 the Xscape is still a good buy for families who like to go camping. The cargo body, for example, can fit stuff that are 1,68 metres long. The interior is pleasantly clad in plastics that look soft (although they feel hard), with leather-lookalike on most surfaces and genuine leather on the steering wheel.
Other little luxuries inside include a tyre monitoring system that displays in the rear view mirror and a touch screen media centre that can link via Bluetooth or plays audiovisual files from an SD card slot or USB port. You will soon use these inputs, as the new fractal antenna that replaced the roof antenna of the old Steed seems to catch as much static as it does a clear FM signal.
Price and competition
At just under R275k, the GWM Steed 5 Xscape competes headon with the JMC Vigus SLX, which sells for R290k, but this includes a five-year or 60 000 km service plan, which is optional on the Steed.
The JMC warranty is for three years or 100 000, compared to GWM’s longer, comprehensive five years or 100 000 km warranty, with a 10-year corrosion warranty and two-year/24-hour roadside assistance.
The 2,4 turbo diesel in the Vigus is less powerfull than the Steed 5’s 2-liter, but the Vigus beats the Steed 5 in ride comfort.
The Steed rides an inch higher on double wishbones with a torsion bar up front, giving that typical bakkie ride — hard over the bumps and loose in the corners. The Vigus rides on a double wishbone with helical springs up front and softer leaves at the back and it delivers a pliant ride that won’t have the wife hugging her chest over back roads.
While I did not load these bakkies, experience dictate the Steed’s harder ride will enable it to carry a load that will force the Vigus low onto its haunches.
It all adds up to the top-end Steed being six of one and the Vigus half a dozen of the other and what this means is looks will become the final decider for most buyers. Both bakkies look good enough to attract passionate views, with the Steed offering taut lines and hard flanks that will appeal to VW Amarok or Ford Ranger admirers, while the Vigus has flared lines and pumped curves that reminds of the Mazda BT-50. For those who like both, I say let the dealer discount determine the sale.
The Steed 5 Xscape offers a lot of handsome bakkie for the price, but so does JMC’s Vigus.