Driven: GWM Steed 5 Double Cab SX 2.0VGT 4x4

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GWM Steed 5 Double Cab SX 2.0VGT 4x4

Affordable does not mean bad when talking about the Steed

As South Africans, we love anything that fits into our trifecta – beer, braai, and bakkies. And speaking of the latter, if there is one thing we quite possibly love more than a basic bakkie, it is a solid and reliable workhorse.

Enter the GWM Steed 5. Great Wall Motors, or GWM, have been slowly but surely plugging away at the South African market in recent years, and in that time, they have not only expanded their dealer network to include over 50 dealers nationally, but they have built up a name that is synonymous with reliability, strength and great value.

Typically, when one thinks of a Chinese made vehicle, thoughts of an inferior product are likely to immediately spring to mind. GWM has aimed to quell those thoughts, with their Steed range of bakkies, as well as the upcoming P-Series luxury pickup, which will go head-to-head with the very best from Toyota, Ford, Mitsubishi, and Isuzu.

It’s important to remember that the GWM Steed 5 isn’t aimed at pulling away sales from the flagship Toyota Hilux and Ford Rangers. The Steed 5 is honest in what it is aiming to do, and that is not rivalling the Hilux Legend 50 or the Ranger Wildtrak. Instead, it is aiming to appeal to those wanting a solid workhorse, with some good creature comforts, a fantastic warranty, and good quality on dirt roads.

Giving the Steed 5 adequate grunt is the brand’s popular 2.0-litre VGT turbodiesel motor. It produces a credible 105kw and 305nm, and is available only with a six-speed manual transmission. During our test, we found the motor peppy, with enough grunt especially during overtaking. There is a small amount of turbo lag; however, it’s easy to find a driving rhythm that overcomes this. While we didn’t attempt to, we are told that the Steed 5 will comfortably lug a ton with ease, besting even the Steed 6!

Fuel economy from the diesel motor is pretty decent too; as we nearly matched GWM’s claimed economy of 8.3L by achieving an average test consumption of 8.5L/100kms. The Steed 5 is also offered with a 2.2-litre petrol engine that makes 73kw and 180nm, which is paired exclusively with a five-speed manual; but that is available only in the entry-level variant.

The Steed 5 is anything but bland. It’s certainly evolved over the years, and we think it looks great. Granted it isn’t as dynamic looking as the R319 900 Steed 6 Xscape, but it is still good looking in its own right. Upfront there is a sporty grille that dominates the front end, fog lights that are integrated into the front bumper, and plenty of honeycomb mess adding just the right amount of pizazz. It isn’t bare-bones in his appearance, and that’s why the bumpers are colour-coded, and there are even rear foglights for those late-night drives around the farm.

Unfortunately, there is a shortage of high-impact exterior colour choices available, as the only available colours - Sky Silver, Noble Grey, and Titanium White – scream out ‘workhorse’ rather than 'recreational' vehicle. Fortunately, there are loads of GWM-approved aftermarket accessories available so buyers can customize their Steed 5 to be truly unique.

The interior is a comfortable place. There is plenty of legroom, front and rear, as well as loads of storage spaces throughout the cabin. Most notably the deep storage bin between the front seats that doubles as a padded centre armrest for the driver and front passenger. Considering its price point, the standard specification is fair. There’s power steering, air-conditioning, electric windows, an audio system with a USB input, and a heated rear window. Safety features are also fair, with central locking and an alarm immobilizer fitted as standard, as well as ABS with EBD, and dual front airbags.

While most of our test was conducted on Gauteng’s urban jungle, we did manage to venture slightly off the beaten track. We enjoyed the stability the 16-inch wheels brought on the tarmac, and further appreciated the adequate rubber on gravel surfaces. We found that with a minute amount of weight in the bin, the Steed 5 was completely composed on sandy surfaces, and this really impressed us. In fact, we wish we could have sampled it on a real off-road course, because with an approach angle of 30 degrees, a departure angle of 24 degrees, and ground clearance of 194mm; we believe that the Steed 5 4x4 would have excelled off-road.

The Steed 5 line-up consists of two petrol variants and is priced at R202 900 for the Base and R227 900 for the SX-derivative. The diesel variants meanwhile are priced at R264 900 for the SX 4x2 and R294 900 for the SX 4x4 version. All models come standard with a comprehensive 5-year/100 000 km warranty, 5-years/24-hour roadside assistance, and a 3-year/45 000 km service plan.

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