First Drive: Great Wall Steed
Chinese firm Great Wall has been specialising in building pick-ups for most of its 35-year history, so it makes sense that the vehicle tasked with launching the brand in the UK is the Steed.
Construction workers, small business owners and the leisure market will all be targeted with Great Wall's initial foray into the UK market. The Steed is already hugely successful in Italy, the only other European market Great Wall has launched in.
It boasts an impressive specification and work-horse ability for a price that won't break the bank. Pick-ups are a Great Wall speciality – currently the maker has five in its range, which are offered in a variety of markets across the world. So it certainly knows its stuff.
Parked up next to similar models from one of importer IM Group's other franchises, Isuzu, the Great Wall certainly holds its own in the looks department – especially with the extra "bling" attached to our test model.
Climb on-board the road giant and one thing is immediately striking – the Steed is big. In fact it feels like a giant American pick-up on the road. Up-front the driver and passenger's leather seats are comfortable and, behind them, three more can sit in comfort. Then there's the gigantic load space. Our test model had an optional, lockable hard top and it would have no issues holding your work kit or jet-ski apparel with room to spare.
Inside it feels a little agricultural, but by that we mean built to last. Plastics aren't of the highest quality in terms of feel, but they'd certainly stand the test of time. The dash is basic, but controls well placed and the read-outs clear.
The steering certainly makes it feel like you're driving a big vehicle though – it's a little choppy and has a few turns to each lock. What's more, we found the gearbox to be equally utilitarian in feel.
The Steed has switchable two- and four-wheel drive and while we only managed to treat it to a little soft-roading, it tackled rutted gravel paths without a sweat. The Steed will be offered with just the one engine in the UK when it arrives in late quarter three. That'll be a 2.0-litre diesel lump that offers power and torque outputs to match rival's 2.5-litre units.
Producing 150bhp and around 310Nm of torque, it's estimated the Steed will hit 60mph in 12.5 seconds and go on to a top speed of around 100mph.
Specification hasn't been confirmed yet, but our test model had air conditioning, a CD player, electric windows and mirrors fitted. Optional extras installed on this test model included that hard top for the pick-up, side steps, chrome bull bar and a lockable compartment – all extras buyers will be able to specify at dealers.
The bit that'll really excite potential purchasers is the price – Great Wall plans to be aggressive here and could offer the Steed for as little as £16,000. That would undercut rivals considerably.
Although a pick-up is a relatively niche model to launch a brand with, we think the Steed's certainly got what it takes to capture the imagination of buyers.