If it’s Chinese, it can only be fong kong. As consumers in South Africa, we find the unknown daunting and fear what we do not understand. In saying that, Great Wall Motors, GWM have ignored the scepticism and humbly introduced their line-up of budget entry level bakkies with an upscale of cutting-edge utility pick-ups.
Enter the Steed 5E DC 2.0L VGT Xscape (turbo diesel), refashioned and well-priced to meet the demands of a brand and price conscience society. Not benchmarking it against other brands like Toyota or Isuzu – and perhaps for that reason some hard-line utility know-it-all’s will not give the Steed a second glance. Which admits to, but doesn’t apologise for its short-comings and sets its facelift like flint to the future against a backdrop of other washed out Asian brands?
The Steed 5E Xscape’s build quality is almost flawless. Chiselled frontal features flair outward amalgamating along the Steed’s aerodynamic body line. GWM have taken a somewhat rough around the edges Steed line-up. By modifying the aerodynamics, they have also refined the Steeds overall aesthetics – which from a design perspective is by far, more engaging and attractive.
I disagree that the interior is a little artificial in feel; it’s quaint with a hint of the sublime. Black-piano inserts and chrome in lays adorn the dash board clusters and door handles and are a fine mix of colour and tone. Which integrate well with a full leather interior and firm, comfortable seats. Unlike the clothing, (Slim Fit Only), you find at China Mall wholesalers, the seating configuration is tailor fit for your big and tall body types. The absence of utility compartments or cup holders in the rear did have me raising an eyebrow, considering the inconvenience it caused for two toddlers having nowhere to put their McDonalds milkshakes – which is not as humorous as it sounds.
Three words describe the ride quality of the Steed 5E Xscape, smooth, tolerable and unbearable. The Steed makes for pleasant commuting when cantering about the urban jungle and cruising the highways and byways of Gauteng, with a slight tendency to become a little unruly on rougher terrain. Sure you might have to drive slower to compensate for a firmer ride, but along a corrugated dirt road, the Steed does not mutter a rattle or a squeak inside or outside the vehicle – a hallmark of GWM’s more stringent Quality Control.
I had an all-round satisfactory experience with the Steed 5E Xscape. GWM are making headway in refining their products and are confident of their impact on the market. I do however feel the Steed 5E Xscape needs the added benefit of a reverse camera – not as an additional option, but as a standard feature. At R236 900, it’s a decent price for a decent product, but weigh up before you pay up.