Here’s one we haven’t tried before, the H6, from Chinese giant Haval. It lands with razor sharp pricing and a loaded specification list but have they skimped on the quality and substance?
Thumb through the brochure for the Haval H6, and the first words you’ll come across are; Who is Haval? Good question, for the Chinese maker is a relative unknown around these parts. It’s been on the market here for the past 18 months with the compact H2, the mid-sized H6 and the large H9 seven-seater.
However the company has been around for 15 years and dominates the Chinese market, where it is the number one SUV brand. It says the Haval philosophy is to employ the best people, use the best technology and suppliers in the world, and utilise high precision robots for consistent quality.
So, does the H6 adhere to the company philosophy? Guess we can start with that last one, at least in terms of its perceived quality. A Tesla owner would be envious of the panel fitment on the H6, the tolerances consistent all over. While the Haval brochure mentions outstanding paint quality, there’s a slight orange peel effect on this car. Haval did well to recruit an ex-BMW designer to pen the H6, for it looks good from most angles.
On the other side of the steel, we can’t really fault the cabin, given the price that is, this top spec H6 Lux costing just $33,990. There are soft surfaces in the required places, save for the hard edge of the console. This and the dash are awash with shiny plastic but it’s all robustly built and rattle free, save for a few squeaks around the door seals. And while the design is a little dated, it’s all logically laid out. Well, once you discover the volume knob is on the centre console.
It’s lacking in the infotainment area; the fact it has a CD slot says a lot. There’s a simple touchscreen for audio and phone control but no sat nav or smartphone connect. This screen also relays the image for the reverse camera, which is large enough to make up for the lack of resolution. Though the price is modest you can expect a smart key, heated front seats, which are clad in a convincing copy of Bos taurus hide and both driver and passenger enjoy powered adjustment.
If you don’t like the black on black treatment, you can mix it up with tan seating, or change the black interior trim to grey, all at no cost. The seats themselves aren’t bad either, with a good range of adjustment (though not much at the wheel) and support, and are comfy too. There are other surprising features like multi-colour ambient lighting, illuminated kick plates and puddle lamps that project a red Haval logo.
While there are decent door pockets and the flocked lining of the centre bin and glovebox is quite nice, there’s not enough storage in the centre console and the cup holders are too small but there is an ashtray for those cancer sticks. Back seat passengers do well for space with plenty of leg and headroom and the bench is super comfy, heated even, with a recline function and Isofix hooks. The boot isn’t particularly huge however, narrow with a high set floor. The rear seats fold flat for an extended load area.
The H6 sits on Mac struts up front with a double wishbone independent rear, motivation coming from a 2.0-litre petrol turbo. It makes 145kW with 315Nm tapped at 2000rpm. Haval uses a Getrag-supplied six-speed dual-clutch which flows power to the front wheels alone. Apparently there is an AWD version, but it comes paired with a manual trans, so wouldn’t fly here.
While no performance claims are given we managed 9.2sec for the 0-100 and 7.3sec on the 80-120. Not so great was the braking performance, a full ABS stop taking 45m from 100km/h, the distance getting longer with each stop thereafter, whereas most in this class will haul to a halt within about 36m. Haval reckons on 9.8L/100km, and we averaged around the 11L/100km mark, so it’s not the most economical in its class either.
However, the powertrain lends the H6 readily summoned urge for general ease of driving. The delivery doesn’t leave you lingering from the get go, the torque surge sufficient to trouble the grip of the front tyres if you’re too eager. The ratios usually have the engine hovering between 1800 and 2000rpm, so it’s right on the curve and ready to go. As such, we were happy to leave things in the Normal mode for most of our time with it, Sport a jot frisky for commuting.
In its default mode, the twin-clutch sorts itself well, the shifts tuned more for smoothness, and so downshifts can be a little laboured. There are a few gremlins at low speeds, the creep not so polished and the engagement of drive isn’t the smoothest when reversing, making some parking manoeuvres difficult. The turning circle is large, the steering ratio slow too at 3.5 turns.
Assistance isn’t bad save for a determined will to get back on centre. The only active safety feature present is a blind spot monitoring system, which you have to activate every time you start up and it only triggers a warning when a car is literally right alongside anyway. Mirrors themselves are generous but combined with the thick A pillar, create a sizeable forward blind spot at intersections. The H6’s urban ride quality tends toward firm for the class, adding some jiggle across town.
But the progress is at least quiet, suspension and road noise suppressed. The engine isn’t too rowdy either, and you’ll even hear the turbo compressing. Out on the highway, the ride is more settled at speed. On roads more challenging, the H6 can hold its own. Sport mode helps to enliven the powertrain, the engine more responsive, so too the twin-clutch, though it’s gear swaps could never be classified as sporty.
Being a long stroke 2.0-litre turbo, there’s good pull across the rev range, with little need to wring it much past 4500rpm, which is handy for it’s not much of a revver. Thrown at a bend, the H6 does well to tame any wild body movements yet it’s not easily bullied by the bumps. Apart from its slow turn in, the steering relays a feel for the grip and there’s no rack rattle to speak of. The ESP is overly active however, tuned to intervene early and often.
As mentioned there aren’t any active safety features, just ESP and six air bags, while the H6 hasn’t been crash tested by ANCAP. A five-year, 100,000km fully transferable warranty is standard.
So does the H6 adhere to the Haval philosophy? There’s definite quality here considering the price, though the technology is lacking. However there’s only so much you can expect for the money. But it looks good, thanks to employing the right designers, and we’ll give it a pass mark for the way it drives, not top of the class but far from awful too. It’s actually quite surprising in this regard.
|Model||Haval H6 Lux||Price||$33,990|
|Engine||1967cc, IL4, T/EFI, 145kW/315Nm||Drivetrain||6-speed twin-clutch, front-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||9.8L/100km||C02 Output||225g/km|