Initially I was unsure why an automotive manufacturer would name their vehicle after a horse, or mount, used in war-times to carry knights into battles. Upon further research though, I realised that the connotations to this word are trusted¸ spirited, reliable, and dependable. This is quite impactful when thinking about what the GWM Steed workhorse represents; showcased at GWM Centurion, the Steed is a worthy vehicle to review.
The vibrant Dealer Principal for the Select Auto Group in Centurion is Chris Jackson; youthful despite having 14 years in the industry, Chris started as a junior salesman on the West Rand many years ago. Working his way up to management level in a relatively short span of time, Chris became Dealer Principal in Centurion where he has dedicated the last five years to overseeing a Dealership that represents Suzuki, Haval and GWM. Acknowledging that the motoring industry is a tough one to be in, the growth of this Dealership, together with their reputation, is an indication that the philosophies upheld by this Dealership are most assuredly working. Chris believes that it is important to learn to understand each unique client and know that customers are exposed to a wealth of information online. This means the team at the Dealership need to be one step ahead in order to present the clients with everything they need to know. Very proud of his 35-member team, Chris has invested heavily in training and equipping the team to deliver the best client-focussed service possible. As strong contenders for the Dealer of the Year award last year, as well as being named the Dealership to Watch, Select Auto also took home the award for Workshop of the Year in 2017. This, together with 14 months of being a platinum dealer, is a good indication of the success of this Dealership.
Introducing me to Donovan de Beer, the Sales Manager at Select Auto GWM, I was welcomed with warm hospitality and professionalism that is droë wors during our interview, which matched the enthusiasm with which Donovan shared his vast knowledge with me. Having a background in construction, Donovan notes that he has found his dream career in this Dealership. With a fresh perspective as a newbie to the Dealership, Donovan is appreciative of the superb team he is part of. Together, the team has a strong work ethic, passed down by the Dealer Principal, resulting in a sales team that is willing to go the extra mile for their clients.
Donovan is exuberant in his explanation about the Steed, noting that the predecessor was relatively popular on the South African motoring scene, despite having a few backlashes with the engine in production at the time. With the launch of the new model, an extensively improved engine was put into circulation about two years ago and served well to undo the bad reputation of the first one. Thanks to this massive improvement, the Steed 5 has risen in popularity and made a name for itself as a double-cab of high quality. GWM Centurion modified a unique model of this vehicle, affectionately named “The Warrior”, to present to the public. Only available at the Centurion Dealership, this double cab features added extras such a remote-controlled LED-embedded bar, a nudge bar and more. The Warrior variant personifies off-roading and tough workhorse personalities this vehicle was designed for.
Reviewing the Steed 5 was a pleasant experience as this vehicle doesn’t present itself to be something it isn’t: it is a tough workhorse that has tried (and succeeded) to make life comfortable for its driver and passengers. As an aesthetically pleasing double-cab, it has clean cut lines and a strong, solid body, grounded by 16-inch steel wheels which identify the Steed as a tough-as-nails bakkie. The interior is more refined and detailed than most, although not trying to blind you to the fact that you are in a bakkie. Having expected a spartan, functional space only, I was quite surprised to note attempts at soft-touch finishes and a little more comfort than most. Donovan also notes that the Dealership offers you endless possibilities in terms of modifications and add-ons, including leather interior – which would undoubtedly up-the-ante in terms of heading towards that SUV feeling, though one has to wonder why – South Africa loves a bakkie, and this is truly what this vehicle is. Noting that “anything is possible”, I got the distinct impression that GWM Centurion are willing to go out of their way to make your vehicle unique to your desires, nonetheless.
The Steed 5 cabin is roomy and more than adequate for my needs, thanks to a longer wheelbase than the preceding model. As is expected of a double cab, the back seat is a bit of a tight squeeze, but with standard release features such as dual airbags, ABS and EBD, heated front and rear windows, air-con and adjustable steering, this vehicle seems to be designed to not only promote comfort, but also uphold the high safety standards the brand ascribe to.
With a powerful 2 litre VGT engine that produces a hefty 105 Kw power and 310 Nm torque, the Steed 5 is strong, as well as fuel efficient for its class (noted at 8.3 litres per 100 kilometres) and has a towing capacity of around 2 tons. With a spacious load box (1380x1460x480), the Steed 5 is designed to meet your off-roading and work-horse needs at every level, and this is ultimately what it is designed to do. I love the fact that this vehicle isn’t presenting as something it isn’t, and as such, does a really good job of being what it is – if that makes sense – as far as bakkies go, this is a really good one.
Driving the Steed 5 proved to be quite pleasant. Women tend to shy away from bakkies, as the usual expectation is the rough, tough and gruff impression a bakkie gives. The Steed was really a pleasant surprise in this regard. The 6-speed manual gearbox proved to be smooth to shift, and the take-off and general drive was comfortable and light. Handling was great and responsive, and despite still having that classic bakkie feel behind the wheel, is most definitely more than worth the price. As one of the most well-priced bakkies on the market, the Steed 5 beats out competitors hands-down for affordability.
Backed up by the service and workshop teams at GWM Centurion, the Steed 5 also comes with a 5 year / 100,000 kilometre warranty and 2 years roadside assistance as an added bonus. A worthy vehicle package as a whole, for sure!
Journalist: Desh Bechan
Reporter: Inge Stols
Editor: Belinda Anderson