Great-Wall-Steed-2015

The Chinese-built Great Wall Steed pick-up has been a common site on Australian roads for some years. Great Wall has more than 35 years experience of building pick-ups, and now they are appearing on roads in the UK, writes Ian Strachan.

And it’s a case of back to the future. Pick-ups used to be workhorses; a tough, uncompromising package with little thought given to design, comfort and specification. It did a job, didn’t cost too much, and that would be it.

Then pick-ups became cool. A 21st century pick-up is a fashion statement. That means it has to look good, be at least as comfortable as car, and come with all the goodies you’d expect on an upmarket saloon. But the Steed has put the brakes on that. Although it makes some concessions to comfort and convenience (heated leather seats, manual air-conditioning, and a half-decent radio/CD) this pick-up goes back to basics. It is unashamedly a work horse.

Imported by the West Bromwich-based International Motors Group, the Steed has a no-nonsense crew cab body, and plenty of room in the back, with a low loading sill. My SE test vehicle was fitted with a hardtop over the load-space, and a rear step, which add to its practicality.

The Steed is powered by a hefty two- litre diesel unit. It sounds tough and is tough – a growling 139 bhp engine with plenty of grunt if you need it for towing or off-roading. It’s unpretentious and fairly noisy, but delivers more power than many larger engines. The six-speed manual transmission is a little notchy, but does the job.

Despite its size, the Steed can still return fuel economy figures of 33 miles to the gallon in mixed driving.

It handles pretty well, too. Suspension is soft, which means you’ll roll around corners, but straight-line handling is comfortable. Four wheel drive can be engaged electronically.

There’s plenty of room for five people in this vehicle, with good headroom. SE specification also gives you chrome side bars, a liner in the load area and rear parking sensors.

The Steed is uncomplicated in its construction. A separate steel body shell is mounted on a ladder frame chassis, strengthened by hefty cross members. It’s all a bit arcane, but it does the job.

Where the Steed really scores is on price. The range starts at just £17,941 which is not much more than half the price of some of its competitors. The SE spec which I tested is £20,341 – still good value.

Public utilities, farmers and construction workers will find this a comfortable working vehicle. It’s not particularly sophisticated, but it doesn’t try to be. Plus you get a three year/60,000 warranty for peace of mind.

Motoring Reviews are bought to you courtesy of Midlands Business News and its Motoring Editor Ian Strachan of Ian Strachan Communications