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