High-spec versions of Great Wall’s new ute will land in Australia with a payload rating almost 500kg less than the established players offer, thanks to its new five-link rear suspension.
Launched in Shanghai, the new ute carries bears the hefty weight of expectation from head office.
Forget about Ssangyong and LDV, the company wants it to be a “top three ute” in the global market, which would have it rubbing shoulders with the all-conquering Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux on the sales charts.
Unfortunately, its 500kg payload capacity on multi-link suspended versions of the new ute – that’s the city-focused ‘Urban’ and off-road ready ‘Adventure’ – trails allcomers in the Australian market.
Both the Nissan Navara and Ssangyong Musso run with comfort-focused coil-spring suspension setups, but the former will lug 931kg, the latter 790kg. The high-spec Ford Ranger Wildtrak hauls 950kg, while the HiLux SR5 has a 925kg payload.
A leaf-sprung rear will feature on the entry-level ‘Commercial’ ute, but carrying capacity hasn't been confirmed. Whether it'll be able to match the 1020kg offered by the diesel Steed on sale in Australia right now remains to be seen.
Although it might leave tradies cold, the high-spec ute (which remains nameless) will have a 3500kg braked-towing capacity when it arrives Down Under late next year. It should also have far better manners in town than the current Steed.
According to Morio Ikeda, design director for Great Wall, the Chinese ute market is shifting from one primarily focused on load-lugging ability to a more lifestyle-oriented space.
There’s also the fact this ute has been designed for global tastes. Bare-bones cabins and a focus on heavy hauling might cut it in the Middle Kingdom, but utes are increasingly offering SUV cabins with a tray on the back in places like Australia.
Speaking with media at the Shanghai motor show, Ikeda said that shift also pushed the design team to up its game on the interior front.
"Our truck has an interior that looks like our SUV... It has a more comfortable feeling," he said, referencing the leather-trimmed seats and creature comforts promised for the 'Urban' ute.