From Apple iPods to Christmas cracker toys, a huge percentage of the world’s manufactured goods are made in China, but there has never been a Chinese-branded vehicle on sale in the UK. Until now, that is, because the company responsible for importing Subarus and Isuzus has just started bringing in this, the Great Wall Steed.
It might be a very silly name, but as it’s called the Wingle in its home market, it could have been considerably worse. Its price, however, is very far from silly. At £13,998 plus VAT, it is the cheapest double cab pick-up on the market. It even has aircon, electric windows, central locking and a CD player with Bluetooth connectivity. There is also an SE version of the Great Wall Steed that has a load space liner and cover so that you can take the family to the supermarket and not smother your passengers in a week’s shopping like I did. Whichever way you look at it, it’s an awful lot of tin for the money. As you walk up to the Great Wall Steed, indeed, you can’t fault the way it looks. While it isn’t as smart as either the VW Amarok or the new Ford Ranger, it appears clean, tidy and modern. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there…
The interior feels tackier than the contents of a Christmas cracker.
The interior of the Great Wall Steed is cheap and plasticky and, while that would be fine if it felt like it was solid and would last forever, it seems rather flimsy and the exposed screw heads and very thin panels made me think of the Morris Marina more than anything else. It said in the press pack for the Great Wall Steed that the seats were trimmed in leather, but it appeared as little like anything found in nature as the red of a cheap sweet and sour pork sauce.
Many pick-up reviews talk about the Great Wall Steed being surprisingly car-like. Well, not this one. While the two-litre diesel engine pulls it along reasonably enough, it is noisy and rattly, the gearchange is horrid and, unladen, it pogoes along the road in a most unpleasant way.
That evening, I fired up my computer and went onto the main secondhand van website to see what else my nominal £14,000 plus VAT would buy me. If it’s a double cab pick-up that you want, you could buy a two-year-old Mitsubishi L200 with 20,000 miles on the clock or even a mighty three-litre Toyota Hilux with 30,000 miles – and, I’m afraid, that’s exactly what I’d do.
Look back at a 1960s Audi, a 1970s Honda or a 1980s Hyundai and you will see that German, Japanese and Korean car manufacturers were well behind the mainstream at the time – but are the mainstream today. I have no doubt that many of us will be driving Chinese cars in 10 or 20 years time – but I just wouldn’t advise it yet.
Specifications for the Great Wall Steed 2.0 S 143PS
Ben Samuelson is the managing director of PR and events agency Samuelson Wylie Associates. Follow him on Twitter at: twitter.com/bensamuelson