On your horse!

Great Wall Steed 4WD dual-cab ute

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

The Great Wall Steed 4WD dual-cab you see here sells for a cur­rent drive-away price (in­clud­ing rego and stamp duty) of just $24,990, yet it has fea­tures that you can’t get on most other utes at any price. It of­fers, for ex­am­ple, the safety and func­tion­al­ity of on-de­mand 4WD where even the most ex­pen­sive Toy­ota Hilux and Ford Ranger have to make do with rel­a­tively prim­i­tive part-time 4WD. It also comes with rear disc brakes, a fea­ture only found on the most ex­pen­sive Ranger, the $80K-on the-road Rap­tor, and VW Amarok V6 mod­els, the least ex­pen­sive of which is twice the price of the Steed.

CLIMB ABOARD

The Great Wall Steed isn’t no­tably big like some cur­rent gen­er­a­tion utes, but more the size of the typ­i­cal dual-cab of 10 years back... some­thing like the last of the Holden Rodeos or a Nis­san Navara D22. The Steed also sits a lit­tle lower than most cur­rent 4WD utes, which means even those short in stature prob­a­bly won’t need the side­steps to climb on board.

Once there you’ll find your­self in a cabin that says any­thing but ‘bud­get’, if that’s what you were ex­pect­ing given the $25K drive­away ask­ing price. Not only does it have seats cov­ered in what looks and feels like leather, but the front seats are heated, the driver’s seat has elec­tric ad­just­ment, there’s a de­cent-sized touch­screen and the gen­eral fit and fin­ish is very good. Look at bit closer and you’ll find a six-speaker au­dio sys­tem, auto wipers, auto head­lights, tyre-pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem and steer­ing wheel con­trols for the cruise con­trol, au­dio and Blue­tooth phone con­nec­tiv­ity. Our test ve­hi­cle also had sat-nav, which is a $990 op­tion across the range.

You’ll also find the driver’s seat com­fort­able and there’s a good range of seat ad­just­ment, al­though the steer­ing wheel only has tilt ad­just­ment and no reach ad­just­ment, which is not un­com­mon among cur­rent utes. The fact that the Steed is a smaller ute than many is not felt up front where there’s plenty of room, but the rear seat does suf­fer for both legroom and shoul­der room if you’re try­ing to ac­com­mo­date three adults. No cen­tre head­rest in the rear ei­ther al­though there are three lap-sash belts.

ON THE ROAD

Fire up the 2.0-litre four-cylin­der diesel and you’ll be sur­prised how quiet it is and once un­der­way the en­gine con­tin­ues to im­press with its gen­eral re­fine­ment. Off idle the power is a lit­tle lack­ing, but once you get past the ini­tial turbo lag the

You’ll find your­self in a cabin that says any­thing but ‘bud­get’.

per­for­mance is ad­e­quate, even if it isn’t ex­cit­ing. The en­gine claims 110kW, which is down on most cur­rent main­stream utes, but still matches the en­try-level 2.4-litre diesel in Hilux and is typ­i­cal of the sort of power out­put of last-gen­er­a­tion diesel utes. On the high­way, and even on hills, the Steed still gets along in a rea­son­ably ef­fort­less man­ner helped by the fact that the over­all gear­ing isn’t overly tall, with top gear of the six-speed man­ual giv­ing around 50km/h/1,000rpm. It’s only when over­tak­ing at high­way speeds that you feel that more power would be handy.

For its part the six-speed man­ual – the only gear­box on of­fer – has a light and easy shift ac­tion, even if it’s not quite as pre­cise and pos­i­tive as it could be.

Much the same can also be said for the steer­ing, which is also very light and could do with a lit­tle more feel and feed­back. The sus­pen­sion also feels a lit­tle un­der­damped, es­pe­cially at the front, but our road-test ve­hi­cle had over 20,000km on it, so this might just re­flect a hard life and tired dampers.

On a more pos­i­tive note the Steed has so­phis­ti­cated 4WD sys­tem via a Borg-Warner torque-on-de­mand trans­fer case. The driver can se­lect 2WD (rear wheels), on-de­mand 4WD (all-wheel-drive on the se­lec­tor) or low-range 4WD.

The on-de­mand 4WD set­ting can be used on any road sur­face (in­clud­ing dry bi­tu­men) and it means you can drive straight from a sealed road into a pad­dock or off-road trail with­out hav­ing to man­u­ally se­lect 4WD as the sys­tem en­gages drive to all four wheels as and when needed. This on-de­mand 4WD sys­tem is par­tic­u­larly use­ful (and safer) on wet bi­tu­men and when road con­di­tions change back and forth be­tween sealed roads and gravel roads, es­pe­cially with a bit of rain in the mix.

The Steed has so­phis­ti­cated 4WD sys­tem via a Borg-Warner torque-on-de­mand trans­fer case.

IN THE PAD­DOCK

The Steed is a handy enough ute for pad­dock or off-road work, al­though it’s a bit low slung com­pared to most main­stream utes and could do with more ground clear­ance. It does how­ever have a solid bash plate un­der the front of the en­gine, which is just what you want if you hit a hid­den rock or stump.

As men­tioned, the au­to­matic on-de­mand 4WD sys­tem is handy as you don’t have to man­u­ally se­lect 4WD if you go from road to pad­dock. For more dif­fi­cult or slower-speed pad­dock or off-road driv­ing the Steed does have low-range 4WD, which also locks the drive from the trans­fer case 50/50 front to rear.

No heavy-duty re­cov­ery hooks if you do get bogged, al­though there are tie-down hooks at the front and the rear, which can be used for re­cov­ery in an emer­gency.

LOAD CAR­RY­ING AND TOW­ING

The Steed has a handy 1,020kg max­i­mum pay­load, but only a mod­est 2,000kg tow ca­pac­ity. With no tow­bar fit­ted to the test ve­hi­cle we couldn’t do a tow test, but we did load it up with 600kg of fenc­ing wire to test its load car­ry­ing abil­ity. With driver and pas­sen­ger on board that took the pay­load to 750kg, all of which the Steed took in its stride with­out rais­ing a sweat. Sur­pris­ingly the mod­est en­gine coped well with the load as did the chas­sis, and the over­all im­pres­sion was that in­creas­ing the pay­load up to­wards the max­i­mum fig­ure would present no prob­lems for the Steed. A plas­tic tub liner and four tiedown rings mounted mid-height in the tray are stan­dard. Like most utes the Steed won’t take a full-sized pal­let be­tween the whee­larches in a tray that mea­sures roughly 1.5 me­tres square.

OWN­ER­SHIP

The good news here is that since mid-2016 the dis­tri­bu­tion of Great Wall utes in Aus­tralia has been taken over by a fully owned fac­tory sub­sidiary, whereas pre­vi­ously a third-party dis­trib­u­tor sold Great Walls here. This fac­tory back­ing should bode well for the fu­ture. Cur­rently there are 34 Great Wall deal­ers in Aus­tralia and the Steed comes with a three-year/100,000km war­ranty.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

There’s no doubt that the Steed of­fers ex­cel­lent value for money in terms of equip­ment even though it falls short of what the main­stream utes do in terms of per­for­mance, on-road dy­nam­ics and tow­ing. But you could say that it of­fers 100 per cent or more of what the main­stream utes do in fea­tures, per­forms about two-thirds as well, and costs 50 per cent or less, all of which seems to be the mak­ing of a value-for-money equa­tion. The sin­gle-cab 4WD vari­ant pos­si­bly rep­re­sents even bet­ter value than the dual-cab and would take a lot of beat­ing as a work or farm ute.

1. There’s plenty of room up front, but the back is more cramped2. The 2.0-litre four-cylin­der diesel en­gine is rea­son­ably ef­fort­less3. 600kg of fenc­ing wire was eas­ily han­dled4. The tray that mea­sures roughly1.5 square me­tres

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