After a short break to sort out a few problems, Great Wall is back in Australia and keen to reinvent itself. It’s doing so via a heavily facelifted version of the V240 twin-cab ute that was on sale previously. This time, though, it’s called the Steed, and the way it’s priced (higher) and packaged (much better), Great Wall appears to want to shake off the cheap Chinese legacy.
- Simplicity. There’s only one model on sale. If you don’t want the 2.4-litre petrol engine, pay $2000 more for a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel version. If you want to take it off-road, a Borg-Warner transfer case pushing drive to all four wheels is an extra $3000.
- Price. The Great Wall Steed is priced from $25,990 (compare that with the $24,990 drive-away deal in place until the end of the year).
- Interior. If you’re expecting a hose-out interior and low comfort, think again. The Steed’s interior is comfortable, modern and – dare we say it – even smacks of a bit of luxury car feel.
- It carries a tonne in the tray. The load rating means that you can carry what the advertising says.
- You sit on artificial leather, but you’d almost think it was the real stuff. For the record, real cowhide does cover the steering wheel and gearshift lever if you need a comparison benchmark.
- Safety is a real step forward for a Chinese ute. The Great Wall Steed now comes with six airbags and electronic stability control that can help correct a skid – important for a car that skips around in the rear over rougher surfaces when there’s no load weighing it down. The centre rear seat even gets a three-point seatbelt, not a lap-only one. The last version of the ute had only a two-star crash rating, which made it one of the worst-performing cars on the market in terms of crashworthiness. It even has rear disc brakes in an age where old-style drums prevail.
- There’s no automatic gearbox available. Talking to Great Wall’s Australian staffers, it appears there won’t be an auto option available until next year.
- It’s packaged like a car, with big colour screen on the centre console, heated faux leather front seats, daytime running lights, fog lights, LED tail-lights, tyre pressure monitor, dusk-sensing headlights and rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth and USB connection and auto-down windows.
- The tray comes with a heavy-duty plastic tub liner.
- The petrol-engined car only gets a five-speed manual gearbox, while the diesel gets a six-speed manual.
- The Great Wall Steed is not much of a fan of rougher roads. Our test cars had about 60kg of weight in the tray (Great Wall’s media drive program included a delivery of support packages to Victorian farmers doing it tough) and the rear still bounced around a fair it on lumpier surfaces.
- The nose job and reshaped rear bumper introduced as part of the facelift do little more than add about 30cm of length to the Great Wall Steed, so the reversing camera is a welcome addition.
- This may sound silly, but the interior looks so nice that you’ll probably opt to not wear your muddy gumboots and overalls inside it.
- The petrol engine is rather asthmatic. That makes the diesel the choice of the two powertrains.
- Great Wall’s own marketing brings it undone a bit, calling the Steed the “tool of choice for Australian farmers and tradepeople”. What do you do if you’re neither of these?
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
As a cheap ute, you’d be hard-pressed to do better. The India-sourced Mahindra Pik-up is agricultural by comparison, and the Chinese-built Foton Tunland is exactly where Great Wall doesn’t want to be. The Steed also comes with a three-year, 100,000 kilometre warranty, so you’d probably be smart to stack this up against a high-kilometre second-hand mainstream brand ute.