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PICKUP OR DELIVERY? (some text hidden)
By Andy Enright
Introductionword count: 98
It had to happen eventually. As soon as people start talking about the Chinese manufacturers flooding our markets, you couldn't help but think of Richard Burton narrating the introduction to War of the Worlds with those “intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.” Last time I checked, the Chinese hadn't pitched up on Hampstead Heath with a tripod. Nope. Instead, they came with a cheap pickup truck - the Great Wall Steed. Does it make a worthwhile used buy? Read on to find out.
Modelsword count: 8
5dr pickup (2.0 diesel [S, SE, Chrome, Tracker])
Historyword count: 398
At this point you're probably wondering who this 'Great Wall' crew are. Well they're no newcomers to the car building game. In fact they've been at it since 1976 when they started building trucks. Back in those days, the Communist Party in China controlled everything, from how many children you had to whether you were entitled to a bicycle. They certainly weren't dishing out too many licences to build cars. So Great Wall stuck to what it was good at and made pick-ups instead. By 1998 in fact, it was the biggest producer of pick-ups in China. It then became the first Chinese automotive manufacturer to go public, being listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2003. Back then, exports had yet to take off, possibly because of model names like the Wingle, the CoolBear, the Cowry and the Sailor. Still, they seemed to go down well in China. Come 2010, Great Wall produced the most popular SUV in China, the Haval H Series, and the brand produced 468,800 vehicles in 2011, making it the tenth biggest vehicle maker in China. Given that Volvo produced 315,000 cars in the same period, you'd have to see Great Wall as a manufacturer with some clout. We first felt this in the UK in 2012 when the company's Steed pick-up arrived in a hand-picked selection of British dealerships and Great Wall started offering the vehicle for sale for a mere £1 down payment. In March 2013, two special editions were announced - the 'Steed Chrome' and the 'Steed Tracker'. Building on the impressive array of standard equipment found on the entry-level Steed S, both models featured the Steed's uprated towing capacity of 2,500kg (braked) and a 1,050kg maximum payload. In addition to the standard Steed S equipment list, the Chrome got chrome side bars and sports bars, chrome fog-lamp surrounds, chrome rear-lamp finishers, stainless-steel door entry guards, an over-rail bedliner, tinted windows, metallic paint and carpet floor mats. The Tracker was fitted with General Grabber All-Terrain Tyres, an over-rail bedliner, a tow bar with audible monitor, front and rear mud flaps, rubber mats and metallic paint. The Steed was treated to a six-year/125,000 mile warranty deal in April 2013, comprising the 3 year/60,000 mile manufacturer warranty plus a further 3 year/125,000 mile powertrain extended warranty but was only offered on Steeds purchased between April and the end of June 2013.
What You Getword count: 317
One day China will make resolutely Chinese cars that Western markets will love. Until then, it cribs what works in the rest of the world and that's why the Great Wall Steed looks like a Mitsubishi L200 or a Isuzu Rodeo or a Toyota Hilux. The plus side of this is that you'll have paid less and got something that doesn't really look all that different. Okay, you could say the same about the £15 Breitling you bought on a stall in Bangkok but the Great Wall isn't all that different in the mechanicals either. Under the galvanised body is a ladder-frame chassis, strengthened and braced by reinforced middle cross-members, an impact-absorbing rear beam and a reinforced cargo bed. The Steed's actually one of the better looking pick-ups. We like the chunky wheel arches, the clearance on the high rear end and the front end styling is very well executed with a contoured shape running from beneath the headlights down to the intakes under the number plate holder. It's actually a lot more assured than you might be expecting, although the chromed rear bumper doesn't look all that substantial. Climb inside and you're greeted by a dash board that's functional and tough looking but probably isn't going to win any design awards. This leather seating feels as if it could handle a hundred thousand miles without too much of a problem and although the dash is built of some hard plastics, it's probably appropriate given the stick this car is likely to get in the working environment. The controls are easy to figure out although we'd have liked to have seen the audio and ventilation controls mounted higher up to avoid taking your eyes off the road for too long. The speedometer looks a bit cluttered as well, but other than that it's hard to complain. All in it's a good showing, especially at this price point.
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