It looks set to move the game forward for Great Wall when it does arrive Down Under, and we might even get the electric model with 500km of range on tap.
Great Wall’s tougher new ute is ready for a full reveal next week, but it won’t be touching down in Australia until more than a year after launch.
The new dual-cab, which will eventually take over from the Steed, will be offered in both ‘Urban’ and ‘Adventure’ guises when it launches. A pure-electric model with 500km of range will also be available, and Great Wall Australia has expressed interest in bringing it to our shores.
Speaking with media at Haval and Great Wall's proving ground in Baoding, a Haval spokesperson confirmed the new ute will start rolling into Chinese showrooms during the third quarter of this year, but Australians have a 12 to 18 month wait on their hands.
“The ute we’re going to debut this year is going to start on sale in the Chinese market… in September,” they said.
“We will have more localised versions and adaptions for the Australian and New Zealand market,” they continued, confirming the ute will “definitely” be tweaked for our unique conditions.
“For export markets like Australia and New Zealand, we definitely need local tuning programs… for all the vehicles, not just the ute.”
Based on what’s been revealed so far, the new ute will be a very different proposition to the Steed we've come to know. The interior will be far more upmarket, with a luxury bent in "urban" trim, and the off-road "adventure" model will come bearing proper off-road credentials.
According to Great Wall, it will wade water 900mm deep and offer a seven-setting off-road mode selector. A full reveal is coming at the Shanghai motor show on Tuesday.
Power will come from a diesel engine of some variety, likely a version of the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel unit briefly used in the H9 before being shelved. That means we can expect outputs of at least 140kW/440Nm. Great Wall has confirmed an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission will be offered, too.
When the production car launches in its home market it will be offered a choice of long- and short wheelbases, single- or dual-cab bodies, and in 'off-road adventure' guise.
Which of those versions will come to Australia hasn't been confirmed, but the higher-end dual-cab is likely to be joined by a cab-chassis price leader.
The fresh dual-cab ute is a part of Great Wall's grand plan to improve sales in export markets, having built its presence in China.
“The time is changing,” the company’s chief operating officer in Australia, Hidesuke Takasue, told media and dealers in Baoding.
“In the past, Great Wall had a huge growing chance in the domestic market, so the Great Wall brand focused on the domestic market,” he explained.
“Now, the situation has totally changed. Last year was the first year that the Chinese industry dropped versus the previous year. The company is seriously seeking to develop the outside-China business.”
Along with the ute, that means getting Haval's latest and greatest crossovers to our market. They're likely to be six months behind the ute, and exactly which cars will come remains to be seen.