Haval is a new entry to the Aussie car market and is certainly, judging by the Haval H9, poised to make an impact on the sales figures. It hails from China but that doesn’t make it a non worthwhile consideration. Here’s why…Haval have loaded the H9 (the premium model from Haval) with more fruit than a grocer’s store. Tri-zone climate control, exterior night shining logo which doubles as a puddle lamp, glowing door sills, seven seats, leather, satnav via an eight inch touchscreen, sunroof with presets and LED lit surround, mood lighting (operated via touch tab at the sunroof operation area), swiveling and leveling headlights, plus dash mounted 4WD info such as inclination, compass and external air pressure. Not sure about that last one, admittedly. It’s a big car, too; think Nissan X-Trail meets Mercedes GL class for looks and size.Cloud to the silver lining? A surprisingly lacklustre turbocharged 2.0L petrol engine (Haval are reportedly working on a diesel) producing 160 kilowatts and 324 Nm between 2000 and 4000. Haval quote 12.1 litres per 100 kilometres for a combined cycle meaning urban consumption (not quoted) has to be something over 14.0L. That’s from an eighty litre tank and requiring a minimum of 95 RON. Haval don’t quote a kerb weight however it’s quoted elsewhere as being 2250 kilograms. Haval also states the H9 will tow up to 2500 kilograms. It may do but expect a hefty fuel bill and a glacial progress initially.The gearbox is a six speed auto that has options such as Auto, Sports and off road modes; in Sports mode which with the lack of torque the engine has, sees second gear held for too long under most normal accelerative conditions. Have to say, though, it is a smooth ‘box and engine combo, with most changes audible in revs but not physically felt.The steering rack felt as if something was loose, such as a mounting bracket or joint. There’s a noise and a feeling of untoward movement underneath. Minor, but worrying enough to be of concern.It has a good steering feel, however, with good weight and a turning circle of just over eleven metres. That’s good for a car that measures 4856 mm in length and has a 2800 mm wheelbase. And when not shifting about, it’s responsive enough also, with enough feedback to keep a modest driver informed about where they’re going. It does feel as if, though, the rack and pinion steering has too much of a requirement for a full lock to lock steering response, needing close to four turns. On road, apart from the leisurely acceleration, it’s good enough to please most people. Front suspension niggle aside, it’s a competent handler, points well and rides nicely. Over some unsettled surfaces it did skip more than anticipated, has some bump steer, yet isn’t overly firm in the overall ride. On the flat, it’s surefooted, compliant if a bit taut but deals with Sydney’s undulations by simply following the curvature and not pogoing.
There’s big Cooper Discoverer asymmetric tyres, at 265/60/18 underneath as well as double wishbone suspension at the front, multilink at the rear and certainly, overall, will be fine for all but the fussiest or sporting oriented drivers.
It’s not an unhandsome car, the H9, with beauty being in the eye of the beholder. In profile the rear has an X-Trail kick to the rear window line ahead of Kia style “neon” tail lights, solidly defined wheel arches, some musculature in the curves and LED driving lights up front. The bonnet has two non vented vents, being solid plastic and definitely modelled on a German brand’s look. There’s side steps, lit at night, and the tail gate is a side opener, hinged on the right. A quibble here is that the tail gate didn’t seem to unlock even though the four main doors had. It could be a setting needing a tick or a cross but it was frustrating knowing the passenger seats would open but the interior door lock button needed a tap or you needed the keyfob to have the handle respond.
There was a niggle in the well appointed inside as well. The H9 would take it upon itself to go to Auto climate control and window defrost, with the fan speed at Mach 2. Not all of the time, hence the niggle. There’s grey faux wood panelling but not looking out of place with the black leather trimmed seating. The dash itself was of a good look and feel, with strong ergonomic engineering to it, locating the Start/Stop button down on the centre console near the gear selector and a simple if somewhat hard to read layout for the climate control system.The centre seats are fold and slide, have their own heating controls mounted on the end of the centre console and give up a VERY handy 1457 litres of cargo space.
It stays with the family friendly thought process by throwing in a 150W/220V power socket, 12V socket, ISOFIX x 2 mounts, a pretty good hifi system and Bluetooth connectivity. The driver’s seat also has memory seating with the switches hidden in the base of the seat itself, plus both seats have a front cushion section that can be pulled forward for extra under thigh support. The third row seats are powered, need a finger held on the buttons (inside left in the cargo area) but are verrrrrrrrrrrry slow.
Safety wise there’s full length curtain airbags, front side airbags, seatbelt pretensioners but doesn’t get blind spot alerts, cross traffic alerts, emergency braking assistance or radar cruise control assistance.
The centre console also houses the dial for the off road modes; Auto uses the onboard sensors to adapt to the terrain, plus you’ll get Sand, Mud and Snow modes that sport different ESC calibrations, and alter the torque distribution.
At The End Of The Drive.
The H9 comes in two levels, the Lux and and Premium, with the Lux being the vehicle tested and despite the name being the more expensive at $51K plus on roads. The Premium is $46490 plus ORCs. Haval pitches this into a hotly contested market, such as Kluger, Everest, Santa Fe and Fortuner.
Bluntly, it acquits itself well in this group but does miss some equipment taken for granted nowadays, not just in this style of vehicle, but in sedans and hatches lower down the automotive family tree. It’s a pleasing enough handler, voluminous inside, well trimmed and needs a diesel. Soon.
For info on the Haval H9 and an opportunity to check out the Haval family, look here: Haval H9 and range