Too much of not enough

Too much of not enough

In 2011 we asked if the GWM Steed 5 was the true dawn of the Chinese era. We had a few concerns, but it was a good alternative for bakkie-seeking buyers. GWM is now back in the spotlight, with a new entry-level engine and spec option. GAVIN MYERS took it for a spin.

GWM is slowly but surely attacking the South African market with a range of new passenger and commercial vehicles. One of those launched earlier this year was the Steed 5 2.2 series. The range now includes 2,2- and 2,4-litre petrol engines and 2,0- and 2,5-litre diesels, offering buyers a choice for most applications.

The 2.2 series is positioned as an entry vehicle within the Steed 5 range, fitted only with a 4×2 drivetrain and coming in both single and double cab options. Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the double cab is the retail price of R176 900. Happily, the attractive price does not necessarily mean it’s devoid of other niceties. The question is, are they the right ones?

Visually the 2.2 series differs little from other Steed 5 models, save for the exclusion of the loadbox rails and body-colour door handles. It remains a neatly styled, good looking vehicle. The interior, too, is unchanged from the rest of the Steed 5 range. The cabin is slightly smaller than some rivals. It is, however, very well put together. The neat, clean design places all controls and switchgear within easy reach of the driver.

Too much of not enough On the road, the 2,2-litre multipoint injection (MPI) four-cylinder unit lacks a bit of urge. We can’t help but feel that its power figure of 78 kW at 4 600 r/min and maximum torque of 190 Nm at 2 400 r/min are just not enough for a vehicle of this size. The driving experience is made slightly easier by good gearing, something we felt was amiss with the 2,4-litre version we reviewed in the October 2011 edition of FOCUS. Fuel consumption is a claimed 10,2 l/100 km, with CO2 emissions rated at 240 g/km.

Another concern with the drive – and this is where the question of “niceties” comes into the picture – is the absence of an anti-lock braking system (ABS). The need for this safety feature raised its head in the form of rear wheel lock-up in an emergency braking situation, luckily at low speed. There are also no airbags fitted, while the rest of the range is fitted with dual front airbags (as well as ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution).

The Steed has a solid, but slightly choppy, ride. The leather-covered seats are, however, exceptionally comfortable which eases the ride quite nicely. Other features fitted to the 2.2 series double cab are a two-speaker CD/MP3 sound system, air-conditioning, remote central locking, electric windows and mirrors and front and rear fog lights.

With a tare mass of 1 565 kg and a gross vehicle mass of 2 570 kg, the double cab offers a 1 005 kg payload. The loadbox – measuring 1 390 (l) x 1 450 (w) x 480 mm (h) – features four tie-down hooks.

Included in the purchase price is a three-year/100 000 km warranty and two-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance. However, while the 2.2 series is indeed attractively priced, offers a decent array of features and is overall a good bakkie, the lack of safety features will most likely limit its appeal. GWM might have done better to rather delete from the standard features list “luxury” items such as the electric windows and mirrors, leather seats and fog lights.

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