The launch of the Great Wall Steed wasn't significiant in itself, more what it represented. It was the first Chinese-branded vehicle to go on sale in the UK. It’s a four-door double-cab pick-up, and the first of many products due to be imported into this country.
With a pre-VAT price of less than £14,000, it heavily plays the value card, and is the cheapest four-wheel-drive double-cab pick-up on sale today.
Rivals generally offer just two-wheel-drive and a single-cab for the same money, together with meagre equipment. Instead, the Steed S features leather upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, alloy wheels, air conditioning and heated front seats, while £2k extra buys you the SE, which includes a hardtop, load liner, chrome side bars and parking sensors.
The good news is that the Steed drives in a similar way to the majority of its rivals, despite its bargain basement price tag and unfamiliar name.
The 141bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine delivers more power than its rivals on paper, but on the road fails to feel any more alive, and is hindered by a slow-witted six-speed manual gearbox. Great Wall claims 34mpg on a combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 220g/km.
Ride comfort is good on the motorway, but is unsettled and jars over bumps at lower speeds.
We weren’t able to test it either partially or fully laden, so couldn’t judge its suspension when under load, but drove it extensively off-road, which it did with ease. On-road it feels surefooted and planted, whether in two or all-wheel-drive mode. Steering feel is generally well judged, if a little weighty, and it’s easy to place on the road thanks to decent visibility all around the vehicle.
Inside, the plastics are hard, but durable, and feel up to the abuse that a pick-up is normally subjected to. The driving position is comfortable, though just rake adjustment to the steering, rather than reach, and there is a decent amount of headroom both front and rear.
The controls are logically arranged, though some, like the audio and ventilation controls, would be better mounted higher up to avoid prolonged moments with your eyes averted from the road. The speedometer markings appear cluttered too, making it hard to read the all-important 30 and 70mph speeds at a glance.
No-one is going to buy a pick-up for its driving experience, instead out of a need for a utility vehicle. Thanks to a keen price tag, the Great Wall Steed makes a good case for itself for those on a budget and wanting decent equipment levels.
Buyers shouldn’t be put off by investing their hard earned cash in an unfamiliar name, as Great Wall has been established for over 35 years and has already sold over 700,000 examples of the Steed around the world to date.
And if you’ve heard horror stories about safety issues with Chinese made vehicles, Great Wall says that the Steed has been engineered with European regulations in mind, though so far, the Steed hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP. Only time will tell whether their claims prove to be true.