First Drive: Great Wall Steed SE

Date: Wednesday, February 25, 2015   |   Author: James Dallas

Great Wall has revised its Steed pick-up truck for 2015 with the promise of improved quality and higher specification.

The new version went on sale in October with prices starting at £14,998 for the base level Steed S and rising to £16,998 for the top-of-the-range SE – a £1000 hike over the previous iteration. All prices exclude VAT.

Great Wall has introduced a Steed Tracker model to sit in the middle of the line-up with a price tag of £15,998.

On the exterior the side indicators are now incorporated into the door mirrors instead of the front wing to create a slicker profile, according to the brand.

Inside the rear view mirror now comes with automatic dimming and an outside temperature display. A tyre pressure monitoring system is also incorporated which displays the working pressure for each tyre. A double-din Alpine CD/radio with USB/MP3 and Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel mounted audio controls is another new addition.

For 2015, the Steed is also equipped with rear disc brakes, replacing the old drum units to increase stopping power and stability.

We tested the flagship Steed SE and for all its improvements it still lags behind the rest of the sector in terms of refinement so, despite the hike, its main appeal remains its price.

Nissan’s entry-level Visia double cab comes in at £17,820 and Mitsubishi’s double cab 4Work starts at £17,049 but otherwise its only single or extended cab models that drop into the Steed’s price bracket.

So for those not looking for a lifestyle vehicle or one that can handle the most demanding off-road assignments the Steed could fit the bill. It has a respectable towing capacity of 2.5-tonnes, which compares to the 3.5-tonne pulling power of the heavyweights of the sector – the Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-max. It’s easy to switch electronically between 2WD and 4WD and low gearing is available for the most tricky terrain.

But the Steed SE’s drive quality and handling leave a lot to be desired. In 2WD mode, which is what you’re likely to use most of the time on-road, the understeer is  pronounced and makes for hard work in confined spaces – like city streets.

The six-speed manual transmission does not do much for driver comfort either – the shift is notchy and requires a good deal of elbow grease when selecting the right gear.

The SE is fitted with black leather upholstery but this glistens slug-like and creates an ambiance redolent of mini cabs. The plastic paneling also seems cheap and a little flimsy – particularly on the door panels.

The cabin overall is not the most user-friendly; the audio system may be an upgrade on the one in the pre-facelifted Steed but it is still fiddly to operate with tiny knobs and dials. It doesn’t include DAB radio either but is redeemed by good sound quality.

Storage provisions are not great and include a small central box and cup holders in the doors that are too small for take-away coffee cups – let alone water bottles. Curiously, our SE included a grab handle to help the passenger get in and out of the cab but not one on the driver’s side.

The front seats are roomy enough and feature a reclining option and heaters for cold winter journeys but a pair of eleven year old passengers remarked upon a lack of space in the back.

Our Steed SE came with shiny optional rubber floor mats in the front and rear, priced at £45.75 but these were extremely slippery and made operating the foot pedals a tad tricky. The vehicle was also fitted with a towbar (£217.50) and towing electrics (£117.50).

Verdict

Great Wall may have improved quality levels but its budget price remains the truck's biggest selling point.



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