CHINA SYNDROME

Is Great Wall a viable option when compared to the competition? Delivery checks on a pre-loved V240 and finds some answers

To buy or not to buy Chinese – that is the question. While it might be okay to paraphrase Shakespeare with a large amount of poetic licence, our readers have expressed considerable interest in the validity of buying a relatively unproven product.

The big question here is whether the purchase of a Chinese sourced ute is a long-term investment or a short-term advantage that depreciates rapidly until it no longer has any resale value.

We looked at a second-hand Great Wall V240, four-door, crew-cab pick-up to find some answers. Purchased new back in October 2009 for $24,013, it was a replacement for a 20-year-old Nissan Navara dual-cab that had seen better days and was nearing retirement.

In looking at the pricing structure, the dealership had retailed the Great Wall for $23,990 then added a soft tonneau cover for $550 and a full window tint for $495, with a dealer delivery charge of $1495. The total was then reduced by a drive-away discount of $3661, making a total price before registration of $22,869. A NSW business registration cost $639, stamp duty cost $687 and CTP a further $318.China_Wall_4

Four years later, Great Wall is promoting the current V240, which sports a redesigned and significantly better looking front end, at a drive-away price xxof $20,990 in 4×2 form or with 4WD at $23,990. Switching to a 2.0-litre diesel alternative adds a further $2,000.

This 4×2 crew-cab ute is powered by a four-stroke, in-line, four-cylinder, multi-point fuel injection petrol engine that owes its origins to Mitsubishi. With a displacement of 2.4 litres, it runs a 9:8 compression ratio on a minimum of 93 octane petrol, precluding the use of 91 octane with 10 percent Ethanol.

The clutch is a diaphragm spring operated by hydraulic pressure, and it shifts a five-speed manual gearbox. Buyers that opt for the diesel engine four-cylinder come home with a six-speed manual gearbox. The engine runs on 10W-40 oil and the sump capacity is 4.3 litres.

Maximum power for the petrol 2.4-litre comes in at 100 kW at 5,250 rpm, very close to the 105 kW at 4000 rpm produced by the 2.0-litre diesel. The peak torque ratings are 200 Nm at 2,500-3,000 rpm for the petrol and 310 Nm at 1,800-2,800 rpm for the diesel.

When it comes to technology, we are looking here at some fairly old engine designs, as evidenced by the fuel economy and general lack of liveliness. With a 70-litre fuel tank capacity common to both models, expect a combined figure of 10.7 litres/100 km for the petrol, reducing to 8.3 l/100 km for the diesel.

The general vehicle specification again relies on established suspension designs, with double-wishbone front suspension and leaf springs at the rear. The payload is common to both models at 1075 kg and the maximum towing limit for a braked trailer is 2,000 kg. Brakes are disc/front and drum/rear.

Air conditioning is standarChina_Wall_6d and a buyer comes home with leather-trimmed seats (which unfortunately look more like plastic), power windows, power mirrors and a CD/radio/MP3 player. Controls are handled by knobs on the dashboard, without any steering wheel buttons. Cruise control is not available but could be fitted as an aftermarket addition.

With 43,000 kilometres on the odometer, our evaluation vehicle was running on its original Kumho tyres and these were showing wear on the rear with an average tread depth of 3.5-4.0 mm against the front tyre tread depth of 6.0 mm. In our view, just about due for replacement.

Life and its challenges for the Chinese pick-up had been relatively easy on the Great Wall, as it was generally used for commuter transport through the week and occasionally collected a couple of bales of hay and chicken feed. Without a towbar, it had never hauled a high weight and to its credit had performed faultlessly. Regular services had been completed without producing any surprises, but the original warranty period of three years/100,000 km had now expired.

It’s unlikely that a Great Wall owner is going to maintain an ongoing love affair with their vehicle, nor regale fellow motoring enthusiasts with tales of appreciation. But to its credit, the crew cab ute has performed as it was expected, without any surprises.

In general driving the petrol four-cylinder does feel lacking in performance and requires a driver to regularly swap ratios in order to keep up with traffic flow. Even slight hills often require a shift back from fifth gear to fourth or the road speed will drop. It’s no match for the current 3.0-litre V6 competition, but neither did it ever make a claim to be an alternative in this area. Driven according to its available power and performance, it gets where it has to go and does so in relative comfort.

The standard ride comfort is a little on the hard side, and the rear axle does react to bumps and corrugations on dirt roads that can unsettle the vehicle. The seats, though, are supportive and provide a good standard of comfort. Dials and gauges are easy to see, and at night the white illumination again makes it easy to read the information on the dashboard.

Cost of ownership has been contained within the regular service intervals at 10,000 km periods, but the overall cost to the owner also brings in the question of resale value. It’s here that Great Wall is not able to match the Japanese brands.

Pricing on the used market shows a 2009 value as low as $10,250, rising only $1,000 for a corresponding 2011 registration. We also found a 2010 model listed on eBay at $6,999.China_Wall_7

By comparison, a 2013 HiLux dual-cab Workmate pick-up with petrol engine and five-speed manual transmission is currently advertised at a drive-away price in NSW for $31,207. The 2.7-litre, four-cylinder runs on 91 octane fuel, produces 116 kW at 5,200 rpm and peak torque of 240 Nm rated at 3,800 rpm. Fuel consumption is an unimpressive 11.0 l/100 km. On the used vehicle market we found a 2008 model priced around $29,990, while a 2006 with 203,570 km on the odometer was priced at $19,990.

What the resale pricing indicated only too well is that when you save on the purchase price when buying Chinese, you lose on the resale. The Great Wall, like all of the attractively priced cheap imports, is not a model that is going to return on your investment at time of resale. It takes the buyer into an area where resale is actually no longer a component of ownership.

As the vehicle ages it is probably destined to change its use from running longer distances to working locally, then perhaps being consigned to becoming a farm ute and staying around the barn and paddocks or covering for local deliveries.

There is a concern with Chinese manufacturers of parts supply and customer support over the long term. Delivery has heard instances of panel shops waiting up to three months for body parts, meaning the vehicle is off the road for a long period of time.

As with all vehicle purchases, you basically get what you pay for. The Great Wall will do the job at a very low entry price. If you have little interest in the vehicle you drive, you will undoubtedly be just as happy as if you were in a HiLux. It is not an acquisition that will leave you boasting about your purchase to your mates in the pub, but, there again, it probably will not be stolen from the car park either.

One comment

  1. Hi Delivery
    Just to clarify the resales value of the Great Wall
    18 months I bought a cab chassis from a Sydney dealer paying $19,000 Drive away and traded this week for $15,000
    A depreciation of $4,000 over 18 months. The Ute had 10,400 km on it so it was just run in
    Apparently the Great Walls are super reliable. I had no issues with mine except for the non-existent power from the diesel when it was new. At 10,000 km it was really going well. The overall gearing in the diesel is a little high and the turning circle is not all that great

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