Under the bonnet our Dual Cab test model boasts a 5.3-litre V8 which kicks out 350bhp and a sizeable 382lb ft of torque through either a two or a four-wheel drive configuration (yet still manages a comparatively impressive 10.2L/100km fuel consumption). Pick-up is a little sluggish at first, a surprise given such a torquey unit, but the V8 does eventually wake up as you reach its optimum 5600rpm peak performance. For added oomph, there is a top of the range 414bhp 6.2-litre V8 available from launch in early November. Mated to the V8 is a six-speed stick-shift automatic transmission. Though the process of manually changing gears (courtesy of two buttons on the steering column-mounted lever) is unorthodox and a little difficult to get used to, it is significantly more useable than Ford’s button setup on the F-150, and shifts – while not particularly quick – are beautifully smooth.
The new Sierra also boasts four-wheel disc brakes with Duralife brake discs, which have been hardened and strengthened, and have consequently reduced stopping distances by three metres. With just enough travel in the pedal to allow constant braking pressure, the pads offer remarkably impressive response for a 2359kg pick-up.
Thanks to a low seating position and a comparatively low centre of gravity, body roll is minimal for a vehicle this size. The resultant balance gives the Sierra a certain poise under heavy cornering, thanks also to new aluminium front suspension and stiffer front springs offering greater rigidity and better handling. Indeed, surrounded as you are in the driver’s seat by the transmission tunnel and high-rise dash, the GMC offers a closeted feel behind the wheel that almost encourages sporty driving. For the front and rear passengers unfortunately, this same setup is a little claustrophobic. Happily, ride and seat comfort are top rate, more thorough welding about the seams and improved acoustic wheel well lining reducing road and wind noise significantly. GM favours the term ‘whisper quiet’, and it’s a fair label.
What does let the side down though is excessively light steering. The new electric power steering may use less fuel than the hydraulic pump setup it replaces, but it feels over-assisted and offers little feedback or feel for the front wheels. Push the Sierra heavily into a corner and you’ll find it difficult to catch nearly 2.5 tonnes of understeer.
Certainly with the new GMC Sierra the boys and girls at General Motors offer a sense of refinement you rarely find in a pick-up, and it’s a welcome effort. Advanced technology, a good driving position and impressive acoustic levels get the thumbs up for this premium model too. The bold new look alone as well as the comfortable cabin should be enough to have GMC loyalists forking over $31,400 without grumble. Issues of space in the rear though do let the side down, as do vague steering and ant-climactic pick-up under heavy acceleration.
Chances are though these will be of little significance to those looking to cruise the above their fellow Middle East motorists with seat coolers at full pelt and charging five electric items all at the same time. They’ll just need to make sure there’s nobody sitting in the back.
|GMC||Sierra Double Cab|
|Engine:||V8 / 5328cc|
|Power:||350bhp @ 5600rpm|
|Torque:||382lb ft @ 4100rpm|
|Front suspension:||Independent coil-over-shock / twin-tube shock absorbers|
|Rear suspension:||Solid axle with semi-elliptic / variable-rate / two-stage multileaf springs / splayed shock absorbers / twin-tube shock absorbers|
|Brakes:||Power-assisted / four-wheel disc / vented / four-wheel ABS with Duralife™ discs / 330mm x 30mm (front) / 345mm x 20mm (rear)|
|Wheels:||18 x 8.5-in polished aluminum|
|Tyres:||P265/65 R18 front and rear|