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.

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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