Cheaper, Better Steed 5

Christmas season is a great time if you’re a prospective new vehicle owner. Dealers love to run specials on nearly all their floor stock which means a new vehicle under your sparkling Christmas tree.

The general trend has been to offer big discounts on small, cheap city cars, but Pupkewitz GWM has buckled the trend and cut costs on the GWM Steed 5. Does the price cut over the already great price make for a great double cab?

Chinese vehicles, especially pick-ups, have always been considered consumables. Vehicles to buy cheaply, drive into the ground and then scrap after a few years. However, with GWM’s Steed 5 range this perception is starting to wear a bit thin.

Design wise, the Steed 5 is certainly a step in the right direction for Chinese automakers. No more a carbon copy of popular models from successful stables, but a clear cut design from their own team, even though it remains pretty much “just a pick-up”.

The front end houses headlights not to dissimilar to those of a Volkswagen Golf 5 and strangely enough, they work well on the masculine front bumper. Two fog lights flank an air-damn on the lower bumper directly below a large grill that sits between the headlights. Side profile is generic bakkie and the rear end is pretty uninspiring as well, as with most pickups. The exterior is finished off with a set 16 inch alloys. The load bin offers a useable payload rating of 675kg.

Your money nets you a full-sized double cab packed with standard features such as leather upholstery, radioCDMP3 player, power steering, remote audio controls, electric windows, air-conditioning, remote central locking, dual front airbags and even ABS with EBD. While the interior is far from a luxury sedan quality – with cheap materials and rough edges evident all over, fit and finish is adequate at this price range. Both front and back seats offer little support and is evident during cornering manoeuvres with occupants having to cling to their seats when a little lateral motion is applied. They are comfortable when seated for long periods, though. Cabin noise is unfortunately not well controlled and the clattery diesel motor at idle can become a pain.

Luckily the 110kw 4d20 diesel motor smoothes out when it gets going. Bizarrely, the unit in the Steed felt more refined than the one we previously sampled and the six-speed transmission was also far slicker. There’s good punch low-down and the performance figures are not bad for this kind of vehicle. Furthermore, tractability is surprisingly good, being a small diesel power.

The GWM performed very well in this off-road test. There’s good low-down torque and, combined in use with the low-range transfer ‘box, the engine never stumbled. The approach and departure angles will also be sufficient for most owners’ needs. However, the low-range ratio is not quite low enough to allow for sufficient engine braking on steep declines. The vague steering also came in for some criticism (on-road, too).

Previous versions of the Steed had very firm suspension, but this appears to have been improved on the latest model. Of course, it remains firm, and bumps or road imperfections are still transmitted to the cabin, but this is not unlike most other pick-ups. In fact, compared to certain current Japanese pick-ups, the Steed 5 is actually pretty pleasurable.

At an even more affordable price, is the Steed 5 worth the Christmas wrapping paper? If status or ego is not a determining factor in your buying decision, then yes. The Steed 5 may not be perfect, but its flaws are easy to overlook at under N$250 000.

Source : The Namibian