Chinese manufacturer Great Wall Motors (GWM) is set to create a stir in the much-loved South African bakkie segment with the new Steed 5E. DEON VAN DER WALT takes it for a spin.
Affordability, practicality and a taste of luxury are key elements of GWM’s Steed 5E, as it falls squarely between the workhorse-orientated DNA of the Steed 5 (on our shores since 2012) and the luxury appeal of the recently launched Steed 6.
The GWM Steed has matured rapidly and I just couldn’t get enough of it, with its abundance of personality and down-to-earth good looks. The Steed 5E features an entirely new grille and styling features that call for a second look. What’s also new are the side indicators mounted into the mirror housings and the aerial now integrated in the windscreen.
The upgraded interior, which significantly contributes to GWM’s achievements with the Steed 5E, has a genuine quality feel to it, with comfortable leather seats and a modern facia with piano-black finish throughout the cabin.
When closing the doors of the Steed 5E, the fairly quiet thud gives a feel of quality. Extra sound-insulation material has been used to isolate the cabin of the Steed; reducing vibration and road noise.
The Steed boasts a quality sound system accessed by a new touchscreen entertainment interface, which controls the radio, multimedia system and Bluetooth. It can all be controlled with relative ease, apart from the radio, which, for me, took some getting used to.
The steering wheel still features remote audio controls. A small problem that I encountered is the reflection of the entertainment system in the back window. This tends to be a distraction when driving at night. A new, user-friendly climate control interface has been installed.
GWM has extensively refined the VGT turbodiesel power plant, which produces 105 kW at 4 000 r/min and maximum torque of 305 Nm between 1 800 and 2 800 r/min. The reasonably powerful two-litre engine did not really scream smooth power delivery; there is considerable turbo lag in the lower half of the rev spectrum. Get the revs going, however, and the Steed could put a smile on your face. The diesel version of the Steed 5E has a claimed fuel consumption of 8,9 l/100 km.
The first few gear changes in the morning feel like what I imagine it would be like to brawl with a medium sized boa-constrictor. Once it has been running for some time, though, gear-changing is surprisingly smooth. This should improve as the mechanicals are run in.
Now, you might ask about everyday usability … The Steed offers plenty of legroom in the front and back for the taller folks among us. The steering is height adjustable. The Steed also has revised rear seat cushions to improve seating comfort over long distances.
The rear leaf springs mean that the ride quality of the Steed 5E can become somewhat choppy on uneven roads. Still, considering that part of its identity is that of a hard-working brute, it is not overly uncomfortable.
The Steed 5E Xscape features include; a six-speed manual gearbox, 16-inch alloy wheels, dual front airbags, height-adjustable headlamps, and Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). Side steps complement the appearance of the premium trim level Steed 5E.
GWM also offers a five-year/100 000 km warranty.
The GWM Steed 5E 2,0 VGT Xscape, priced at R274 900, offers exceptional value for money to anyone looking for the best of both worlds in the bakkie segment. If GWM keeps going at this rate, I can’t wait to see what it has to offer in five years’ time.
*Deon van der Walt is the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists’ bursar student. He recently spent a month with FOCUS, where he was exposed to the local commercial vehicle industry.
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