The iPhone, iPad, Samsung products, Burberry, Adidas, Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, Jaguar all have manufacturing presences in China. But none can ever match the Great Wall of China one of the most ambitious and ancient monuments of the age unrivaled even by modern standards for the breadth of its scope and depth of its vision.
So why do we shudder at the thought of buying a vehicle made in China and sold in Europe when China has now become the worlds greatest manufacturing industry of well basically everything we buy and own. Even the computer, smartphone or laptop you are using right now was built or has components made in China.
So here we have the Great Wall Steed, Great Wall was only founded in 1984 and the Steed is offered up as a three model range for UK punters. It’s fairly simple to get your head round with three trim levels S, SE and the top spec Tracker which comes in at £15k GBP.
The exterior is pretty much a Great Wall interpretation of the modern day pick-up truck, think Toyota Hi-Lux, Mitsubishi L200. Now you would think the Great Wall Steed would be flimsy on the outside but it actually uses high tensile steel, which basically means its built like a bank vault, so there is no flimsy tinny sound emanating from the body.
The interior is what it is, plasticky yes, and you know what it doesn’t bother me because you expect it at this price point, the Steed isn’t pretending to be a Land Rover. Interior build quality is OK, there are some loose-fitting bits of trim here and there, but it’s a lot better than a Dacia Duster.
The interior design is desolate of hope and there are also some basic design and ergonomic issues, for example, the lock on the glove compartment could have been better finished, every time you lean over to open it your finger catches a sharp edge which is always surprisingly painful. The radio always feels as though it is situated just out of reach, the buttons are small and you have to stretch to change channels. I could go on but I am sounding like a cantankerous edition of old Top Gear so I will stop.
“You can forget about handling, enter a corner and at any point from entry phase onwards you are overwhelmed with a detached experience, it feels like permanent understeer.”
The Steed SE 4WD comes with the hard top canopy, rides on 16-inch tyres and is powered by a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, common rail diesel, lets just say it does the job. The 0-62mph time isn’t spectacular its an unabashed 17s but it has just enough power to cope with urban and motorway driving. However the engine is loud compared to some rivals, you expect that, and wind and tyre noise on the move drowns out any hope of reasonable conversation.
The six speed gear box basically crunches through the ratios, its not pleasant to engage but as I said before it does the job. Then there is the ride, again its designed to do the job but really the Steed is best driven on smooth, straight roads because its ungainly suspension setup, which is leaf sprung at the rear (for better loading), is stiff and uncomfortable over bumps of any definition.
You can forget about handling, enter a corner and at any point from entry phase onwards you are overwhelmed with a detached experience, it feels like permanent understeer. Indeed its joyless because the steering is slow-witted and clueless when it comes to basic feedback.
You end up guessing your way around a corner instead of being told what to do or where you are at any given point. But it does the job, why do I keep saying that? Well you have to adjust your driving style (and expectations) to meet the low driving dynamics of the Steed and if you are prepared to do that then the Steed “does the job”.
Then there is the steering lock which is one turn too little and makes maneuverability in tight spaces frenetic.
What you do get is that massive pick up loading deck and in SE spec a hard top canopy the resulting space is huge. But I must defend the Steed because it does have a fairly good level of spec. An assumed leather interior, heated front seats and a 4WD drive setup with High and low range settings, air con, electric windows and a OK stereo system. But no Sat-Nav and no reverse-parking camera but thankfully you do get sensors.
The Steed is a big vehicle, it’s roomy up front and although access to the rear cabin is narrow than you would expect once inside its reasonably roomy and spacious for rear seat passengers. The Steed does redeem itself by being able to return 32mpg on a combined run, not bad for a heavy and unwieldy vehicle.
The Great Wall Steed is what it is, its like a no frills Ryan Air budget flight, its belligerent in almost every department but if you want a lot of car for the money with a six year warranty for purely hauling stuff around and have an urge to go off-road from time to time then forget about the Dacia’s and go for this. But don’t expect miracles the Great Wall Steed is… what it is.