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Most Australian drivers are familiar with Asian marques.  Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi and Toyota have been on the scene for quite a few years now.  We’re also familiar with South Korean marques such as Kia.  Now another Asian manufacturing country is entering the market with a line of its own rather than merely being the offshore production centre for other big names: China.

One of the iconic landmarks of China is the Great Wall.  It is therefore not surprising that this was the name chosen for this automotive company.

Great Wall (the company, not the architectural landmark) was established in 1984 and concentrated on trucks.  It was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2003.  In 2010, the company branched out in response to the changing economic and social climate in China and put out a saloon car.  However, it was the SUVs and utes that really proved popular, both in China and overseas.  Great Wall is the largest producer of SUVs in China to date and regularly scoops awards and honours in the Asian market, including being named as one of China’s Top 10 private companies and listed in the Forbes Asia Fabulous 50.  They claim to be the #1 SUV in China – and have their eyes on the world!

Many of the overseas models of Great Wall utes, cars and SUVs have rather interesting names.  These have been toned down to more “normal” sounding names for the Australian market (V-series and X-series) but some of the names we have missed out on have included Sailor, Pegasus, Coolbear, Sing, SoCool, Florid, Steed, Deer and Wingle.  The use of European-style letters and numbers is probably an improvement, as I can’t imagine walking into a typical Sydney or Melbourne car dealer’s yard and asking for a SoCool or a Wingle – not with a straight face, anyway.  However, names like Pegasus, Sailor and Deer and even Coolbear have a certain something, so it’s a shame these names weren’t kept for the Australian market.  Some of these are available in Europe and in the US, as well as in their native China, so as the market presence of Great Wall expands, we may start seeing some of these as well.

Great Wall deliberately targets the low-budget sector of the car market.  In many ways, Great Wall is the 2010’s equivalent of what Volkswagen and Ford were originally intended to be: cars that are affordable and within the budget of the average working-class household.  On top of that, Great Wall utes and SUVs are designed to be comparatively cheap to run as well.  So far, they have been reasonably successful in this goal, with the Great Wall V240 four cylinder 2.4 litre five speed manual being named the least expensive cab-chassis 2WD ute to run in Australia by the NRMA in 2013.  In that same study, the other Great Wall models available in Australia placed very well in their respective classes.

At the time of writing (2016), Great Wall is a comparative newcomer to the Australian market.  However, the cost factor is getting the brand a fair bit of recognition: according to the official Great Wall Australia website, there are over 40,000 Great Wall vehicles on Australian roads – and probably off the roads as well, given the 4×4 ability of the X-series models.  Great Wall is no slouch in the 4×4 department, with the Great Wall Haval 4×4 (not available in Australia at the time of writing) competing regularly in the gruelling Dakar Rally and placing a respectable sixth for the team in 2012 and 2013.

Great Wall has a daughter brand, Haval, which is not currently available in Australia.  However, if the Haval line ever makes it onto these shores – which is possible, given the proximity of Australia to China, we’ll certainly let you know and review all the available models.