GWM Steed 5

GWM Steed 5 (Photo: Quickpic)I’m always thoroughly impressed when I jump inside a GWM. The expectation is below low, I mean after all its ‘Made in China’ and that carries about as much weight as the drivel from the upper echelons of our current government. However they never fail to impress me.

And the trend continued with the Steed 5 – GWM’s double cab bakkie. You only pay something like R245 000 for the 2.0 litre turbo diesel I tested for the week, which isn’t half bad when you consider it has leather upholstery, air-conditioning, CD/MP3 player with steering wheel controls, central locking, electric windows and mirrors, a spacious interior, an array of safety kit like ABS, EBD and dual front airbags and is a proper 4×4 with a low-range transfer box. Sounds even better when you look at pricing on some of the better known brands like the Hilux, Mazda BT, VW Amarok etc which are all over R100 000 heftier on the wallet.

You may wonder how this is possible? Well, the answer is that it’s not all dandy inside the Steed 5. You see the cabin, while well appointed, isn’t all that well finished. The plastics aren’t in any way premium and it’s generally put together in an agricultural sort of manner.

Driving the Steed isn’t particularly fun, or easy, either. The 2.0 litre turbo diesel feels like it runs out of puff quite early in the rev range while the manual gearbox has an excessively long throw. The suspension is poorly damped and the spring rate is all wrong, despite using a two-stage leaf pack designed to improve unladen journeys while maintaining the ability to lug a ton about in the back, meaning the ride is just a bit too hard; even by bakkie standards. Also the steering is incredibly vague and offers little feedback for the driver.

But despite the downfalls I struggle to overlook the fact that you’re saving at least R100 000, which is a sizeable lump of money. My last two paragraphs may not have painted the rosiest picture, but honestly those factors aren’t at the top of most people’s lists when it comes to buying a double cab bakkie. Yes, it must perform as a workhorse and leisure vehicle, so comfort and quality are important. But on the flip side it needs to be hard as nails. And I genuinely think the GWM manages this balancing act rather well.

Now I know that here is South Africa, the double cab is seen as part of our heritage, as though it were a direct descendant of the ox-wagon which carried ouma over the platterland (or wherever they went) during the trek. So they’re taken quite seriously, even symbolic of a man’s wealth and stature. And maybe saying you have a GWM doesn’t quite cut the mustard down at the local rugby club. However if you’ve only got R250 000 to spend and are currently weighing up a few older second hand models, I’d definitely add this Steed 5 to the shortlist for consideration. You might just find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I always am behind the wheel of a GWM.

Price: R245 900
Engine: 2.0 litre four cylinder turbo diesel
Power (kW): 110
Torque (Nm): 310
Fuel Consumption (l/100km): 8.3 (claimed)

First published in Autodealer KZN

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