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Great Wall Steed SE

Click to view picture gallery“Want to pick up a pick-up but funds
  a tad on the tight side? What you
  need is a Steed
not one with four
  legs but one from Great Wall with
  four-wheel drive. Just 15K will buy
  you a double cab 4x4 version of this
  Made in China workhorse that’s just
  the job for recreational outdoorsy
  types who relish going where others
  fear to steer...


THE STEED'S TRUMP CARD is its price for the cost of a two-wheel drive single cab from most other pick-up makers, Great Wall gives you a double boost: four-wheel drive instead of two; and a double cab instead of a single.

It might be cheap but it's assuredly cheerful and doesn't stint when it comes to kit. The entry-level Steed S (14,998) comes with on-demand electronically selectable four-wheel drive, leather upholstery, heated front seats, AirCon, Alpine CD/USB/RDS radio with touchscreen (incorporating navigation with 3D mapping, hands-free Bluetooth, and MP3 connectivity), auto-dim multifunction rearview mirror with outside temperature display (a tyre pressure monitoring system is also incorporated which can show the working pressure for each tyre), tinted glass and windscreen, powered door mirrors, four electric windows (driver's with auto one-shot down), daytime running lights, parking sensors, loadbay liner, and a set of alloy wheels.

“With its clean lines,
muscular wheelarches,
alloy wheels,
gleaming Titanium White
paint job and restrained
exterior chrome trim,
the Steed looks more
expensive than it is...
Handing over another 2K (16,998) puts a top-of-the-range SE with, additionally, a body-coloured hardtop, black roof rails and chrome side bars on your drive. A Tracker model is also available that splits the difference: it costs 15,998.

With its clean lines, muscular wheelarches, alloy wheels, gleaming Titanium White paint job and restrained exterior chrome trim, the Steed looks more expensive than it is. Seen from the front, with its chunky high-off-the-ground bonnet and Audi-like nose it is, to say the least, imposing.

Under the bonnet beats a 137bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine that stumps up 224lb ft between 1,800 and 2,800rpm. It also returns 32.8mpg officially in the combined cycle (a commendable 30.9 on a week's full test) with 222g/km of CO2 emissions. Maximum speed is 87mph and getting from zero to 62mph takes 17 seconds. That noted, it doesn't seem to cramp your progress.

The Steed is first and foremost a workhorse not a racehorse and in the real-world will likely spend much of its life off-road or at least on roads that make our tired British blacktop look like the pool-table-smooth asphalt that Lewis Hamilton is used to racing on.

As you'd expect, running off-road is, for the Steed, something of a stroll in the park. But how does it fare on civilised roads? Actually, going purely on its bargain-basement price tag, it rides and drives far better than you might be expecting. So step up, pull open the big driver's door and climb aboard.

Inside, courtesy of decent-sized windows, it feels airy and spacious. Controls and switchgear are logically arranged, with traditional-look dials. The seats are big, supportive and upholstered in black leather, and the seatbelts adjust for height.

The driving position is nicely commanding and although the steering wheel only tilts that's good enough; and it does have a leather-wrapped rim with perforated work areas and remote audio controls.

“Should you decide
that off-road is the only
way to go then the
Steed’s minimum 194mm
ground clearance and
low-range four-wheel
drive is sure to get you
through.
Capable it certainly is —
and it doesn’t seem to
know the meaning of
‘back down’...
A no-nonsense change action on the six-speed manual gearbox and a traditional pull-on/pull-off handbrake plus a well-sited left-foot rest all add to the driver's convenience, as too does the efficient AirCon.

There's a fist of air between the crown of your head and the roof; legroom is also generous, and you certainly won't be knocking elbows with your front seat passenger. Visibility out is fine thanks to an over-the-bonnet view that makes the Steed easy to place on the road and equally easy to manoeuvre despite its five-metre length.

The Steed's steering is not sportscar sharp (as we said, a workhorse not a racehorse) but there's an excellent reason for that: to keep your fingers and wrists safe from eye-watering kick-backs when riding over rough and rutted terrain (if you've ever done this and hit a hidden rock or stump hidden in the long grass you'll know that a little 'accommodation' at the helm can easily prevent a broken finger or thumb). Again, not a problem and most drivers probably won't even notice, adjusting to it automatically once they pull away.

You sit higher in the rear than you do in the front of the cab but there's still enough headroom. At the other end of your body there's plenty of room for your feet, while your knees won't be in contact with anything. Three can occupy the rear bench side-by-side because there's adequate room for three pairs of boots. And although side-steps are fitted, you probably won't need them because exit and entry is as hassle-free as getting in and out of the front.

The hardtop converts the Steed's usually open cargo bed 1,380mm long x 1,460mm wide x 480mm deep into a massive and secure boot. The lockable hardtop also features sliding side windows and a heated rear screen, while its rear window opens fully upwards for easy loading. For serious loading the drop-down tailgate is as sturdy as they come.

A full-size spare wheel lives beneath the boot floor. Yay! as they say. The Steed will, in addition to five adults in the double cab, manage a 1,050kg payload in the reinforced cargo bed. It'll also pull a 2,500kg braked trailer.

Unless you switch to high- or low-range 4WD (4H/4L) using the dash-mounted buttons, the Steed will stick in high-range rear-wheel drive (2H). Should you decide that off-road is the only way to go then the Steed's minimum 194mm ground clearance and low-range four-wheel drive is sure to get you through. Capable it certainly is and it doesn't seem to know the meaning of 'back down'.

“While no Range Rover,
the Steed drives easily;
surprisingly even over
speed humps. The ride is
firm-ish around town but
it settles at speed,
cruising along unfussed
at the legal limit so that
motorway trips are
definitely no hardship...
Most pick-ups bought by retail buyers are earmarked specifically for recreational duties such as towing a boat, caravan, or jet-skis, etc. If they can double-up as regular family transport, as indeed the Steed can, then so much the better.

While no Range Rover, the Steed drives easily; surprisingly even over speed humps. The ride is firm-ish around town but it settles at speed, cruising along unfussed at the legal limit (it maxes out at 87mph) so that motorway trips are definitely no hardship.

Human nature being what it is, most of us wanting or needing four-wheel drive and off-road capability would prefer to be behind the wheel of an SUV flashing a Land Rover, BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz badge on its nose. However, as my grandfather was fond of saying in the hard times before the advent of the 'never-never': "Cut your coat according to your cloth, lad".

In which case you can still wear a smile on your face because the Steed boasts one of the lowest price tags of any serious 4x4. And keeping you smiling throughout your ownership is a six-year/125,000-mile mechanical warranty, six-year anti-perforation warranty, three-year paint warranty, and three years' of roadside recovery and assistance.

But it doesn't end there also thrown in are inflation-proof, fixed-price monthly service payments, plus free service pick-up and drop-off for customers living up to 20 miles away from the dealer. Before our week with the Steed we worried that we were in for a rough ride but after a week behind the wheel we really were sorry to see it go back!
MotorBar

Great Wall Steed SE | 16,998
Maximum speed: 87mph | 0-62mph: 17 seconds | Test Average: 30.9mpg
Power: 137bhp | Torque: 224lb ft | CO2 222g/km