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Great Wall Steed 4x2 petrol 2017 review


Daily driver score

3/5

Tradie score

3/5

While the popularity of diesel-powered dual-cab utes continues to grow and grow, the same can’t be said for those equipped with petrol engines, with less torque and higher fuel consumption blamed for their drooping sales.

Want proof? Even top-selling Toyota recently took the axe to the the 4.0-litre V6 petrol option in its local HiLux range as demand had become so small it could no longer be justified. 

And so the few petrol-powered utes that remain, including Great Wall’s 4x2 Steed, are competing for a shrinking number of potential buyers. Which begs the questions; will the petrol-powered ute one day become extinct? And can the Great Wall Steed do anything to change that?

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The 4x2 Steed, like its 4x4 stablemate, is available only as a dual-cab ute, but it does offer a choice of 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel (the only engine offered in the 4x4), or with a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine. Our test vehicle was equipped with the petrol engine, which is only available with a five-speed manual (the diesel version comes with a six-speed manual).

At $25,990, the rear-wheel-drive Steed offers a considerable saving over the cheapest petrol model in Toyota’s HiLux range; the Workmate dual-cab ute with a 2.7-litre petrol engine and five-speed manual ($30,690). However, the savings are much less when measured against Nissan’s Navara equivalent, which, in entry-level DX form and with a 2.5-litre petrol engine and six-speed manual, costs $26,490.

The Steed isn't offered as a single-cab. The Steed isn't offered as a single-cab.

What the Steed’s Japanese rivals lack in standard features is balanced somewhat by their need for regular unleaded (the Steed needs premium), and the fact they both have superior power and torque figures, which are important considerations for these work-focused vehicles.

The Steed’s standard equipment list is one of its strong points, as all variants - no matter which engine or drivetrain you choose - come loaded with the same serving of eye candy and creature comforts that can only be dreamt of in Japanese rivals at this price.

Chrome body highlights include grille, roof racks, door handles and side body protection mouldings. Plus there’s a classy-looking stainless steel sports bar and door scuff plates, plus full-length side steps, a cargo bed liner and 16-inch alloy wheels with 235/70R16 tyres and a full-size spare. 

Standard inclusions are generous, but a reversing camera would be nice. Standard inclusions are generous, but a reversing camera would be nice.

The cabin’s fully carpeted and leather-appointed trim includes cowhide on the steering wheel and gear-knob. The driver gets a six-way adjustable powered driver’s seat, and both front seats are heated. There’s also electric-folding door mirrors with demisters and indicators, a six-speaker sound system with touchscreen controls and Bluetooth, and an excellent tyre-pressure monitoring system to name a few. 

Options include a tow bar, tonneau cover and sat-nav with reversing camera. We might sound greedy, but the rear-view camera should be standard, too.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Steed is conventional in design with the usual body-on-ladder-frame construction riding on a generous 3200mm wheelbase, with double-wishbone front suspension and a leaf spring live rear axle. However, its rear disc brakes buck the trend of some major players that stick with drums. Turning circle is a comparatively large 14.5 metres.

The high floor height relative to the seats results in noticeably high knee/upper thigh angles in all seating positions. Head-, leg- and foot-room for rear seat passengers is also on the squishy side and not comfortable on long journeys. The much shorter length of the rear doors compared to the fronts also makes getting in and out of the rear seat a squeeze, particularly for larger passengers.

Head-, leg- and foot-room for rear-seat passengers is on the squishy side. Head-, leg- and foot-room for rear-seat passengers is on the squishy side.

Poor perceptions of Chinese build quality were not helped during our test by the odd screw and plastic clip appearing on the cabin floor, for which we could not find their original locations. 

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The 4G69S4N is a Mitsubishi-sourced engine featuring a cast iron cylinder block, aluminium SOHC multi-valve cylinder head, multi-point fuel injection and MIVEC variable valve timing technology. In this work-focused specification it produces 100kW at 5250rpm and 205Nm at 2500rpm - which are not big numbers for a one-tonne-plus payload.

The Steed sports a Mitsubishi-sourced engine (100kW/205Nm) The Steed sports a Mitsubishi-sourced engine (100kW/205Nm)

The five-speed manual has a slightly shorter top gear ratio than the diesel’s six-speed manual (petrol 0.857 vs diesel 0.838) and slightly shorter final drive ratio (petrol 4.55 vs diesel 4.10), which is biased towards heavy-load hauling. However, it also means higher engine rpm at highway speeds. Needless to say, an automatic option would greatly increase the Steed’s showroom appeal.

How much fuel does it consume?

The Great Wall’s combined figure of 9.0L/100km is identical to the diesel figure. This raised our eyebrows, given that petrol engines tend to drink more. Our hunch proved correct, with our real-world driving figures taken from fuel bowser and trip meter readings coming in at 11.8L/100km. Based on these figures, you can expect a driving range from its 70-litre tank of just under 600km.

What's it like to drive?

You don’t really notice the 4x2’s lighter kerb weight, which is probably due to the petrol engine’s smaller power and torque figures compared to the diesel. Ride quality around town and on secondary bitumen and gravel roads when empty or lightly loaded is adequate, if a tad harsh in the rear, which admittedly is a common trait in leaf-spring dual cabs with one-tonne ratings. Like the 4x4 version, the steering weight is too light and linear in feel regardless of road speed and the gearing is too low, requiring excessive steering wheel rotations. 

The shallow foot wells, that result in higher knee and upper thigh angles as previously mentioned, concentrate more upper body weight on the base of the spine. This driving position also puts your knees closer to the steering wheel which can hamper turning at times, particularly for tall drivers. The edges of the console (left) and door trim (right), which the driver’s splayed legs naturally rest against, could do with more rounded edges or padding for greater comfort.

For our GVM test we forklifted 830kg into the cargo bed, which, with the optional tow bar and 100kg driver, was a payload of 960kg - or 50kg less than its 1010kg rating.

We forklifted 830kg into the cargo bed. We forklifted 830kg into the cargo bed.

The rear springs compressed only 38mm, which was less than the 4x4 version (51mm) under a similar load and was probably due to the 4x2’s lower kerb weight. The front rose 16mm, which was splitting hairs with the 4x4 (17mm). The ride quality improved noticeably but the engine felt a bit sluggish around town, requiring plenty of revs and clutch slip when getting underway from standing starts.

Under load the rear springs compressed only 38mm. Under load the rear springs compressed only 38mm. 

At highway speeds, the limitations of the five-speed gearbox and shorter diff ratio became apparent with the tacho showing 2800rpm at 100km/h and 3000rpm at 110km/h. Although maximum power is at 5250rpm, the engine felt like it was revving too hard for comfortable cruising and almost begging for another gear to drop at least 500rpm at these road speeds.

The excellent tyre-monitoring system provided real peace of mind with such a heavy payload on board, as each tyre’s pressure and temperature could be closely watched. We reckon every hard working ute should have this.

The engine’s lack of low-down torque was noticeable on our set climb, as diesel-powered utes under similar payloads usually pull third gear at 60km/h all the way to the top of the 2.0km, 13 per cent-gradient climb. However, with its peaky petrol engine, the Steed just couldn’t pull third, so a quick shift back to second found its harder-revving (and noisier) sweet spot at 3800rpm, which allowed it to competently 'power' its way to the top. With an emphasis on 'power' as opposed to low-down torque, which is in short supply. 

How practical is the space inside?

The 4x2 Steed has a relatively light kerb weight of 1722kg, which is a substantial 178kg less than its 4x4 diesel stablemate (1900kg). This is also reflected in the 4x2’s GVM of 2732kg, which although being 188kg less than the 4x4, still allows a genuine one-tonne-plus payload of 1010kg. This is only 10kg less than the 4x4’s limit. 

Its 4732kg GCM means it can carry maximum payload while towing up to 2000kg of braked trailer, which is a more practical ‘real world’ compromise than some one-tonners with higher peak tow ratings.

Like most utes, the Steed 4x2 does not have enough width between its rear wheel arches to carry a standard Aussie pallet, but its fully-lined cargo bed offers more than one cubic metre of load volume with four well-placed D-shackles for securing loads.

Cabin storage options for front seat occupants include a bottle holder and two storage pockets in each door. Plus there's a single glovebox and centre console featuring a padded lid box at the rear which doubles as an arm rest, two central cup holders and a storage cubby up front. There’s also a curious sunglasses holder to the right of the driver’s head that's too small to close with a pair of sunnies inside.

There are no bottle holders or storage pockets for rear seat passengers. There are no bottle holders or storage pockets for rear seat passengers.

There are no bottle holders, cup holders or door storage pockets for rear seat passengers, who only get slim storage pockets on the rear of each front seat.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Only two stars out of a maximum five-star ANCAP rating needs prompt attention. In the meantime, active safety features include Bosch electronic stability control with traction control, brake assist and hill start assist, but no AEB. Audible rear parking sensors come standard but a rear-view camera is optional.

Passive safety includes dual front, front-side and curtain airbags, and ISOFIX child seat anchorage points on the two outer rear seating positions. There’s also a child seat top tether for the centre rear seating position and a three-point seat belt for a passenger, but no centre head rest. 

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

There is a three-year/100,000km warranty with three-year roadside assistance on offer. Service intervals and recommended (not capped price) servicing costs start at one month/1,000km ($138) then six months/10,000km ($166), 12 months/20,000km ($283), 18 months/30,000km ($166), 24 months/40,000km ($751), 30 months/50,000km ($166) and 36 months/60,000km ($283).

If a low purchase price and cheaper servicing costs (if not fuel costs) are paramount, or you just have an all-pervading need to avoid slimy diesel bowsers and their oil-stained forecourts, then a petrol-powered 4x2 Steed could be worthy of consideration. Particularly when you take into account its generous menu of standard features.

And we’re darn sure that your local Great Wall dealer will offer you plenty more to get your business.

Would you consider purchasing a petrol-powered ute if the price was right?

$18,900 - $22,990

Based on 5 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3/5

Tradie score

3/5
Price Guide

$18,900 - $22,990

Based on 5 car listings in the last 6 months