2018 Haval H2: Car Review.

It’s fair to say that the Chinese company Haval doesn’t have a widely known presence in Australia. There’s some advertising on TV in early 2018 to let people know of the four model range, including the H2. It’s not unhandsome to look at, not bad to be in, and is well priced and equipped. But yes, there’s a but….In profile there’s little doubt that the H2 is aiming at BMW, with an X1 or X2 presence. And this comes as no surprise as the designer is one Pierre Leclercq, the former head of design at…BMW. Inside it’s Range Rover’s tidy lidy Evoque, with a slightly overdone silver-grey plastic trim that won’t be to everyone’s taste. It’s cloth on the seats, comfortable, but set perhaps a little too high, which also brings in the high roofed resemblance to the Beemers. It’s well proportioned, and in the test car’s pearlescent white, looks good in the drive. There’s low-set LED driving lights, LED indicators, and distinctive Haval badged four bar grill, and BMW-esque tail lights in the non-powered tailgate.Motorvation is courtesy of a 1.5L turbocharged petrol engine with a rated fuel economy for the auto of 9.0L per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle. AWT finished at 8.5L/100km on a mainly suburban run. It does feel like it needs a bigger tank as it was on 1/4 to go with just under 400km covered. Peak power is 110kW at a typical small four 5600rpm. Peak torque is 210Nm between 2200-4500rpm. In comparison, the Holden Equinox with the same tech and capacity pumps 275Nm between 2000-4000. The Equinox tested had a six speed auto, the H2 also had a six speed auto. However there’s more to the Haval’s engine and gearbox combo than simply a comparitive dearth of torque.

It’s indecisive in its power delivery; sometimes first and second saw moving from standstill quicker than other times, particularly in a straight line move as opposed to off the line from a corner. There’s significant turbo lag at best, and a lag of urge in third or fourth in the same rev range where you’d have some pull below or above those ratios. Mash the pedal and although well within the torque band, forward motion was slower than the Titanic where she is now. Yet, at other times, the slightest touch of the pedal would see the H2 respond appropriately.

There was a mix of silky smoothness and jerkiness where it was once smooth. Not once at anything other than freeway cruising did it feel as if it was cohesive and capable of not confusing the driver. The auto has Snow and Sports modes, with Snow activated by a button in the centre console. Otherwise it’s a stand, reasonably well ratioed, six speed that shifts smoothly enough when it’s behaving itself.Inside, as mentioned, it’s not a bad spot. The dash dials hint strongly at Evoque, with a crystal look insert at every second speed indicator and brackets a colour 3.5 inch LCD screen that didn’t show speed but showed tyre pressure, instand and average fuel consumption, a layout that anyone with the Evoque would recognise, meaning its well laid out and easy to spot where things are. But…the CD/Bluetooth streaming/infotainment/non-DAB system is easily the worst AWT has experienced.

1. It doesn’t power off for something between five to ten minutes after the car powers off. Result? Flat battery. 2. None of the touchscreen tabs on the otherwise nice enough looking screen responded to touch until again after five to ten minutes of power on. 3. EVERY time the head unit was powered up it would go through a boot cycle of over fifteen seconds. This was irrespective of whether starting from an overnight off or whether you had JUST powered it off.

As a result it made using the whole thing harder than what it should have been. Changing stations had to be done using the toggle switch in the tiller and any sound settings had to wait until, like an old tube style radio, it had “warmed up”. Navigation wasn’t bad to look at but was largely rendered useless and actual audio quality was pleasing and clear enough. The sunroof is operated via an aircraft style dial above the driver and passengers head, with presets to open and close.Switchgear and build quality stood out as being of high quality for the most part, with an odd squeak here and there for a vehicle that had around 9850km or so and handback. There’s plenty of headroom as you’d expect from a 1814mm tall vehicle, plenty of legroom from the shorter than it looks 4335mm length and 2560mm wheelbase, and enough shoulder room for two kids in the 1695mm width.The H2 itself comes with a choice of two or four (all) wheel drive in Premium and Lux level trim. There’s really only the difference in dashboard trim here that separates the four levels, as 12V sockets, cargo blind, stainless steek door sill scuff plates, keyless entry/start/stop, a nice to the touch leather tiller (which features a small Audi-esque badge at the bottom), six airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, and traction control in its various forms are standard across the range. Cargo spaceis just big enough for a family’s weekly shop and when it comes to safety, the Haval H2 does come with an ANCAP five star safety rating.Where the H2 shone was in ride and drive quality. The electrically assisted steering was slightly numb on centre otherwise was solid in communicationand heft, The McPherson strut front and multi-link independent rear were beautifully tuned for a balance of comfort and absorption against a sporting enough ride when trialled through a well know one way downhill run, and had plenty of grip from the Kumho 235/55/18 Solus rubber wrapping the (optionally available) red painted brake callipers. There’s confidence in chucking it around thanks to a front and rear track of 1525mm/1520mm and confidence in stopping as the brakes respond to a light touch and retard forward progress…..progressively. It’s also lovely and quiet inside, to the point where a junior AWT staffer asked “Is it electric?”

Haval further sweeten the deal with a standard five year/100,000 km warranty and five years roadside assistance, plus a capped price service offering.

At The End Of The Drive.
Haval’s H2 suffers from the death of a thousand paper cuts. Individually the niggles are mildly aggravating. As a package, as beautifully set up as a handler it is, those papercuts are enough to potentially not overcome, depending on your own driving preferences, the attractive starting price of $24,990 driveaway for the 4×2 Premium with auto. There’s no doubt at all that the indecisive driveline won’t be seen by some as a deal breaker but it’s also without doubt it needs more work. The infotainment unit needs hauling out and throwing away, and there’s any number of cars out there with far superior units.

If you look past the driveline and infotainment hiccups, you’ll be rewarded with a good looking, well handling, roomy enough for four, well priced SUV. AWT is due to test the new Haval H9 in early April, 2018.

H9: A Haval To Have.

Haval have unveiled the updated seven seater H9. The 2018 model comes well stocked with standard equipment in the two model range, designated Lux and Ultra, a 350Nm turbo petrol engine of two litres capacity but still no diesel…yet.Included in the updates are both power and torque increases, from 160 to 180 kW, and up from 324Nm for the torque. Haval have fitted an eight speed auto from ZF, and combined with a change to the compression ration inside the four cylinder engine, say a fuel consumption improvement of around ten percent should be expected. A drop in the time to 100 kmh from zero is also expected, down to ten seconds.The exterior sees the former three bar grille changed to a five bar design, plus the lower air intake has been massaged for better air flow. Five spoke 18 inch alloys are new. Inside there’s been a raft of changes including a new TFT display screen for the driver, which amongst other information and changes displays a digital speedo.The seats for the Lux are cloth, the Ultra gets leather plus passengers in the Ultra can enjoy Australian sunshine thanks to a full length glass roof. Safety gets upgraded, with the Lux gaining Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Lane Departure Warning. The Ultra steps that up with a heated steering wheel, heated second row seats, and an Infinity sound system.It’s also off-road capable, with a Bosch backed All-Terrain Control System (ATCS). Haval says:

Auto: The system automatically adapts to any on- or off-road situation and is designed as a select and forget setting.
Sand: The Bosch Generation 9.0 Traction Control System allows higher engine speeds and bigger torque for maximum traction through dry sand.
Snow: Traction is adjusted for the slippery conditions prevalent in snow, utilising the high torque of the turbocharged engine and the technology of the German-engineered ZF 8-speed transmission to start in second gear to minimise slippage and maximise traction.
Mud: Operates like the snow setting, but employs the BorgWarner transfer case to sense slip in one wheel and transfer torque to the appropriate wheel for optimum drive efficiency.
4L: This setting is for the toughest conditions, or when maximum traction is required such as towing through muddy conditions. By engaging the low-range transmission, the torque of the engine is multiplied by a factor of up to 2.48.
Sport: This setting is for enthusiast driving, and ensures the ZF 8-speed transmission holds lower gears for longer before changing up. At speeds below 80 km/h, it locks out the two overdriven gears, making it ideal for urban driving conditions.

The Haval H9 is rated for 2500kg in towing and features a locking rear diff as well.Pricing is sharp; the Lux starts at $40990 and the Ultra at $44990, with driveaway pricing at launch of $41990 and $45990. Head to Haval Australia for more information and to book a test drive of the 2018 Haval H9.

Updates For Jaguar, Haval, Hyundai, and Citroen.

Heading into the 2018 market, a number of companies have released details of updates and changes to key models.

Haval.
The Chinese brand has been maligned for its safety factor in its vehicles however the H2 has been given a five star rating by ANCAP, the Australia New Car Assessment Program. Haval Australia’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tim Smith, says: ““I would like to thank each and every one of the hard-working team of engineers at HAVAL for their efforts in so quickly developing a five-star car for the global market. Customer safety is paramount for the continued development of HAVAL as a global brand and this recognition by ANCAP is just reward for the company’s efforts.We will continue to develop our safety systems, with the introduction of key features such as autonomous emergency braking and lane assist systems in the next wave of HAVAL SUVs.”

Hyundai.
A substantial makeover has been delivered to Hyundai’s big medium sizer, the Sonata. The nose is now more aligned with Hyundai’s new corporate look, with a more hexagonal looking “Cascading Grille” and the headlights have a more slimline appeal. It’s perhaps at the rear, though, that the redesign is more obvious, with a complete change of look to the structure. Underneath there’s a 180 kW/353 Nm 2.0L turbo four in the Premium with the Active retaining the familiar 2.4L four potter, and a new eight speed auto in the Premium. The range has been streamlined, with Active and Premium the two variants available.Inside there’s an uprated eight inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a wireless mobile phone charging pad in the Premium, switches have been relocated for better ergonomics and piano black plastic has been added for a more premium feel.

2018 Sonata builds on its reputation for safety by featuring a host of advanced safety systems and technologies including Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist System (BAS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), Traction Control System (TCS) and Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), Rear-view Camera with dynamic guide lines and four sensor rear Park Assist System (PAS) as standard. Premium ups that further with Blind Spot Detection, Driver Attention Alert, Lane Change Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Smart Cruise Control and four sensor front Park Assist.Pricing starts at $30990 for the Active and $45490 for the well specified Premium, with metallic paint an option at $595.

Jaguar.
The iconic British brand has unveiled a new version of its superb flagship model, the XJ, called the XJR575. Powered by the venerable 5.0L supercharged V8, the machine will see the ton in 4.4 seconds thanks to the engine’s 700 Nm and 423 kilowatts. Built on the standard wheelbase XJ, the car will come in two colours, Velocity Blue and Satin Corris Grey. Pricing has not yet been confirmed for the Australian market ahead of the car’s expected Q1 release in 2018.

The XJR575 will receive bespoke sill plates, Intaglio and diamond quilted seating in a two colour range, an enhanced body kit, and and twenty inch diameter wheels.

The XJ range itself receives a huge amount of updates, including 4G wifi, an uprated ten inch touchscreen with customisable interfaces, plus extra safety programs such as Forward Traffic Detection and Autonomous Emergency Braking. There’s also a torquey (700 Nm) 3.0L V6 diesel available, complete with an astounding 221 kW.

Citroen.
The quirky French brand has released the quirky C4 Cactus for 2018. In the same vein as the C3 Aircross and C5 Aircross variants, the Cactus, a compact five door hatchback, rides on a 2600 mm wheelbase and features 12 on-board driver assistance systems. It has unique styling also, with 3D effect tail lights, “Airbump” on the lower half of the doors, plus offers 9 external colours and four colour packs.

The C4 Cactus will also feature Citroen’s legendary hydraulic suspension, with a technology called Progressive Hydraulic Cushions and Advanced Comfort Seats. The car is due for the Australian market in late 2018.

Car Review: 2017 Haval H6 Lux.

This is the second visit to A Wheel Thing for Chinese brand Haval. This time round, the second level H6 Lux graces the driveway, complete with poky turbo four and six speed dual clutch auto, for two weeks. Let’s see how it fared.Style wise there’s nods towards the English and Germans, with a Range Rover Evoke-esque profile, complete with slanting window line, whilst front and rear there’s Audi in the grille and tail lights, even down to the crease line from the outer edges. The lights themselves are self levelling and there’s the almost obligatory LED driving lights in the cluster. It stands at 1700 mm tall including roof rails, 4549 mm in length and rolls on a 2720 mm wheelbase. Rubber is from Cooper, 225/55, on good looking 19 inch alloys.It’s here the first issue arises. The tyres are of a hard compound and work fantastically well on gravel and unsettled or broken road surfaces. But take the H6 onto wet roads, nay, even damp roads, and grip limits diminish rapidly. The front driven wheels will spin far too easily, with traction control seemingly powerless to intervene straight away. It’s worth pointing out that this happens on light throttle, not a heavy application. They’ll also spin on a dry road if at an angle, not with the steering wheel straight ahead.The dual clutch auto is from fabled German transmission maker Getrag, and when it’s under way it’s a pearler. Note the caveat: when it’s under way…from standstill it exhibits all of the worst traits of a DCT, being a far too l gap between engagement of first, the pressing of the accelerator, and forward motion happening. This particular transmission was also not a fan of cold weather, with stuttering and indecision the primary behaviour shown from start up. It also requires a fine balance between brake and go pedal on slight slopes such as those in residential roads and doing a three point turn. So combined with the overly hard rubber, lack of traction, the stutter then grip, the initial driving part is all a bit of an eyebrow raiser.When it all works it’s crisp, super quick, and silky silky smooth. There’s even a little “phut” from the twin exhaust tips well hidden in the lower bumper. Naturally there’s a manual shift option, and that’s just as efficient whether using the transmission selector or the twin metal paddles behind the tiller. Give it some welly and it’ll slide on through as easily as a goal-sneak in a world cup level football game.It’s a pretty decent ride too, with the rear perhaps just a little too softly sprung. On the rutted and unsettled road around Sydney Motorsport Park it’s fantastic, with minimal compression and there’s a genuine feeling of stability and agility. Take the Haval H6 out onto the freeways and it’s flat as a tack. It changes lane easily and smoothly, with no indication of mass transfer. The steering? Well…it feels like a long block of rubber, with nothing on centre and as you go further left or right it tightens but still has no feeling of anything bar…rubber.Oddly, it’ll also cock a rear at slow speed when winding on lock and coming off a kerb. There’s no sense of instability but it’s a weird sensation given the otherwise competency of the chassis. Punt it up (or down) Sydney’s Old Bathurst Road on the fringes of the Blue Mountains and it’ll both slur through the gears and ride clean and stable from top to bottom or vice versa. Ask the question for an overtake on a flat road and it’ll whistle up the required head of steam in no time.While you’re doing that you can enjoy the rather excellent interior. Yes, there’s a smattering of grey plastic with a woodgrain look but aside from that it’s well laid out, easy to read and use, comfortable to sit in with quick heating (front AND rear) leathers eats plus there’s a surprising amount of leg room for rear seat passengers and an indecent amount of rear cargo room. If there’s a let down, and it’s nit picky at that, it’s the look of the background for the driver’s info and centre screens.

Think a crosshatched pattern in a slightly lighter blue than the rest of the screen and you’re looking at what a coloured screen from the 1980s. Having said that, the driver’s screen will show economy (and it’s far too thirsty at consistently over eleven litres of 95 RON per one hundred kilometres), tyre pressures, and more.There’s a full glass roof with sunroof at the front and backed by a coloured coded cloth roller, LED interior lighting that varies through seven or eight different colours, truly tasteful texture to the black plastic and a pleasing contrast with white lining the lower section, plus cobalt blue backlighting to the alloy sill plates. The centre console has the tab for the colour changing, drives modes (Sports/Eco/Normal), descent control, mirror folding, park assist, and even audio. What would have been nice in the Haval H6 would be the slide out extensions in the sunshades. Far too often the sun was coming through the gap left by the shortness of the shades. Another quirk and not one that’s of real concern, is the temperature controls. Just about every other digital readout in cars offer 0.5 degree increments. The Haval is degree by degree. Like I said, nothing major but notable for the fact it stands out in the way it does. The selector is tastefully trimmed in alloy and leather and Haval have even gone back in time with a coin slot. It’s a push button Start/Stop and here’s another quirk. The Haval H6 test car required that, after you’d selected Park, that not one but two presses of the button were required in order to power off, in conjunction with ensuring the foot was OFF the brake. Leave the foot on and….the car would start back up.The wide opening doors make ingress and egress simple and show off just how much rear leg room there is even with the front pews pushed back. The sills look good in daylight and simply stunning at night. Safety wise there’s six airbags, ESP from Bosch, pretensioning seat belts and confident feeling brakes with the usual assistance electronically plus Euro flashing emergency style brake lights. Overall, Haval have really done a fantastic job in packing and trimming the H6.

At The End Of The Drive.
Haval H6. Not a particularly inspiring name but logical in the sense of how Haval will position their vehicles. Somewhat derivative styling, quirky transmission, and rubber bar steering aside, it’s a delightfully packaged vehicle, well equipped, a good drive and ride on dry and gravelly roads, and at just on $30K (plus free satnav as of Jun 2017) a very well priced item to consider. When Haval tighten up the DCT and make the feeling of steering more accessible it will be a hard package to ignore. Here’s the link to have a look for yourself: Haval Australia H6

Car Review: 2016 Haval H9

2016 Haval H9 wing mirror logoHaval 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…2016 Haval H9 cabinHaval 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.2016 Haval H9 profileCloud 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.2016 Haval H9 engineThe 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.2016 Haval H9 rear seatsIt 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.2016 Haval H9 front2016 Haval H9 rear 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 265/60/182016 Haval H9 wheel 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.

2016 Haval H9 rear cargoIt’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. 2016 Haval H9 bonnet and instrumentsThere’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.2016 Haval H9 dash

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.2016 Haval H9 rear heatingThe 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, 2016 Haval H9 memory seatinga 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. 2016 Haval H9 rear power seatsThe 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.

2016 Haval H9 centre consoleThe 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.2016 Haval H9 SMP
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