A Need For A Steed – Meet The GWM Bakkie That Can
Aaah, how time flies. Hardly the most original statement, but as we're all now just beginning to exit the festive madness there's no need to get too cerebral, is there?
And indeed it seems like only the other week that this strange new Chinese manufacturer appeared seemingly out of nowhere on the South African market. Its name? Great Wall Motors, or GWM as it's better known.
That was back in 2007, and its offerings were rudimentary but hardy, comprising as they did a single-cab bakkie, a double-cab, and a bakkie-based SUV wagon of sorts.
Now a mere eight or so years later GWM's products aren't just acceptable. They are – quite frankly – brilliant. By any standards, not just Chinese ones.
Underscoring this is the launch of the new Steed 6, which joins the existing Steed 5 and the more refined, recently launched Steed 5E.
The Steed 6 is a big and imposing vehicle to be sure, and while it will happily lug a load and turn in a hard day's work, it's way more of a leisure vehicle than any GWM pick-ups that ever were.
Indeed, the Steed 6 is effectively GWM’s new flagship, and so there's big emphasis on the likes of cabin space, creature comforts and design that, well, has far more gravitas than any of its forebears. Witness but the big, bold chrome grille with contoured louvres, flanked by high-intensity projector-style headlamps. Lower-down, it boasts standard LED strips (a segment first) above the fog lamps, and an integrated SUV-style skid plate.
There's something distinctly Teutonic about the interior, right down to the leather covering of the instrument binnacle.
As Hannes Oosthuizen, Brand Manager of GWM SA – an all-round good ou and a man who knows the auto industry well, to put it mildly – notes: “We’re confident that the Steed 6’s cabin can stand comparison with the best pick-up offerings from Germany and Japan.”
The Steed 6 is offered in two trim levels. The SX derivatives pack items such as climate control, radio/CD with Bluetooth, height-adjustable driver’s seat, Eaton rear diff-lock, 16-inch alloy wheels, dual front airbags and ABS/EBD.
Flagship Xscape variants, meanwhile, boast a full-house package that includes leather upholstery, electric driver seat adjustment, six airbags, cruise control, auto lights/wipers and, for the first time in a GWM product sold in South Africa, Bosch ESP (electronic stability) and hill-start assist. The exterior package of Xscape models further benefit from the addition of factory-fit side steps, roll bar and roof rails.
As for motive power, well, that comes courtesy of GWM's rather excellent, decidedly frugal VGT two-litre turbodiesel motor making 105kW and 305Nm, and running through a six-speed manual.
The esteemed Bakkie & Truck magazine certainly thought so when they named the Steed 6 nothing less than “Bakkie of the Year, 2015” in their February 2015 issue.
Meanwhile, in my own humble round-up of my 10 best vehicles for 2014 in Autodealer KZN, I simply had to include this machine.
Keep a look out for these babies, along with other GWMs, on the floor of Suzuki Jhb South/GWM Jhb South – and expect massive savings over what you'd pay for a similar truck from any other manufacturer.
by James Siddall