World premiere of GWM's new bakkie: 'A Steed With No Name'…

Image: Ferdi de Vos
Image: Ferdi de Vos
Ferdi de Vos

There are numerous memes on Facebook and other social media channels stating:"Why didn’t he at any point during that ride through the desert give the horse a name?”, or using words to that effect…

The memes, of course, refer to the song "A Horse With No Name" by the folk band America with the memorable lyrics:  I've been through the desert on a horse with no name. It felt good to be out of the rain. In the desert you can't remember your name. 'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.  La, la, la, la, la, la. la, la, la, la, la.

Well, during the first day of Auto Shanghai 2019 Great Wall Motors (GWM) unveiled its brand new, not-so-secret-anymore pickup truck (bakkie) to an anticipating global audience but kept on referring to it as the Great Wall Pickup – making no mention of any name (or number, for that matter) being considered for the bakkie they want to conquer the world with.

So, for now, let us refer to it as the 'Steed With No Name', as the Steed bakkie (or Wingle, as it is known in China) has stood GWM in good stead up ’til now. However, the thoroughly developed, and tested, newcomer differs from the Steed in all respects – and needs to be distinguished thus.

gwm steed

                                                                 Image: Ferdi de Vos

In fact, if first impressions of the exterior design and even more so the interior design detail and finishes count, it is far removed from its bakkie crony – to such an extent it deserves to be marketed under the more luxurious Haval brand name.

So, what do we so far know about the Steed With No Name? 

Firstly, it is not as big as expected. While GWM did not divulge any dimension details during the launch presentation, the new double cab only bakkie is similar in size to a Ranger or Amarok and will come in three applications, a commercial version, a leisure/lifestyle model and an off-road derivative, with a full EV adaptation following later.

Multi-link rear suspension

It is based on the newly developed flexible P71 platform with ladder frame chassis and normal independent strut suspension up front but with a leaf-spring setup (for the commercial version) or multi-link coil-sprung arrangement – much like the Navara/X-Class/Alaskan system – (for the leisure/lifestyle and off-road models) at the rear.

In terms of design Great Wall has drawn inspiration from Toyota and its Hilux/Tacoma with the front end design of the leisure/lifestyle version, while the off-road execution has hints of Ranger Raptor/F150 in it, as does the rear. 

The interior of the leisure/lifestyle version is particularly impressive, and the fit and finish of the soft leather seats and metal surfaces will make an X-Class owner cower. 

The neat and tidy dash layout has more than a passing semblance of Hilux and the cabin is spacious and comfortable, with ample leg- and headroom for rear passengers. According to GWM the premium leisure models will have full connectivity and will come equipped with a plethora of driver aid systems.

gwm steed

                                                                      Image: Ferdi de Vos

Diesel power and four-wheel drive too

The new Great Wall Pickup will be available with petrol and diesel power, according to Jiaming Zhang, GWM Pickup Platform Director. It will initially come with a 2-litre, four-cylinder petrol-turbo mill with different power outputs for different applications.

While Zhang did not specify power figures, it could range from 145kW to 185kW – given the different derivatives now available within the group – while the expected 2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel will develop 120kW with around 380 to 400Nm. 

While he did not indicate whether a bigger petrol engine is being considered, he did confirm a bigger turbodiesel engine with up to 500Nm of twisting force (he did not specify power figures), has been development for the bakkie.

The petrol mills will be mated to a new 8-speed DCT and the top-of-the-line leisure double cab, as well as the off-road version will be available with a four-wheel drive system including up to three differential locks (front, centre and rear). He added the pickup will be able to carry a full ton and will have a towing capacity of up to 3500kg. 

gwm steed

                                                                                    Image: Ferdi de Vos

Taking on the world

Great Wall has ambitious plans for its new, as yet unnamed pickup and aims to sell 200 000 units per year within the next three years. "We want to sell the new pickup worldwide and our aim is to become the third largest player in the mid-size market," said Haobao Zhang, brand director for the GWM Pickup. 

Besides China and Indo-China, the new bakkie will made be available in markets including Russia, Chile, Australia and South Africa, with more to follow. "We believe our new Great Wall Pickup offers high quality and comfort at an affordable price, giving our customers good value for money," said Zhang.

gwm steed

                                                           Image: Ferdi de Vos

Given our experience with some other new products from Haval, as part of the GWM group, the new pickup – earmarked for local launch sometime late next year and set to sell for well below the price levels of established players– may well cause a significant upset in the highly competitive one-ton bakkie market. 

But for this to happen, the impressive steed will have to come out of the desert with a suitable name….

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