Monday 29 October 2012

Road - Riding the Steed

It doesn’t have the most exciting or evocative of names, but I drove a Great Wall Steed down to Castle Douglas for the Galloway Hills at the weekend and I was really quite surprised by this latest Chinese import.

As far as 4x4 pickups go, it certainly looks the part while the interior is remarkably well equipped. You get the feeling that the marketing men have thrown a confectionary bag of accessories at the cabin. Some have stuck better than others, but even so, the kit hit-list is mighty impressive for a capable and practical vehicle in this price range. It’s got full leather trim and it even has heated front seats!

Running in 2WD mode as standard, the 4WD transmission and diffs are controlled electronically at the push of switch and it also has a lo-ratio setting. Ideal if stuck in a boggy forestry ditch!

The 141 bhp, 2 litre turbo-diesel engine won’t crick your neck under acceleration, but with a six speed gearbox it will pull a 2 tonne trailer. On the round trip to Castle Douglas, it was getting somewhere in the region of 35 mpg cruising quite happily at the legal limit with a remarkably pliant ride.

The only downsides are more niggles than seriously critical. The steering is low geared and more hopeful than directional, the seat cushions are bit short for the longer legged and the load-lashing loops in the loadbox sidewall have been covered up by the canopy clamps. So there’s nowhere to tie down the trolley jack and toolbox!

It comes with a 3 year/60,000 mile Warranty which is not quite industry leading, but here’s the clincher. All in, it costs 16 grand plus VAT and that includes the alloys and reversing sensors, plus a full size spare wheel - and none of this compressor and spray-goo nonsense.

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