One cannot help but admire the Haval brand. When parent company GWM South Africa launched the brand little over a year ago, it certainly looked promising. After all, Haval is China’s best-selling SUV brand and the GWM brand had already built a solid reputation for itself on local soil in the ten years prior.
(Today, GWM remains active in the bakkie segment of the market, while Haval is now the name associated with the company’s passenger cars.)
My first taste of a Haval product came later in the year, when I tested the Haval H2 in November. It was the surprise of the year – I had simply not expected it to be as good as it was. So, with the weight of expectation on its shoulders, will the larger Haval H6 C leave me as impressed?
What can I expect from the H6 C?
Tested in entry-level 2.0T City guise it may have been, but the H6 C left very little to desire. From the outside, it’s almost indistinguishable from its higher-spec’d siblings. Sure, you only have 17-inch wheels, but that’s about the only obvious detail that gives the game away…
The overall design is confident, like a bullish dog ready to stake its claim on some hotly contested turf… Note the wide grille, slim LED-encrusted headlamps and chunky bumper treatment. Note too the rising waistline and sloping roofline that meet at the blacked-out C-pillars; giving the roof a floating effect when viewed from the rear.
The interior is just as pleasing. The dash moulding might be generic Haval, but there are some clear design influences from brands far more prestigious. That goes for the overall quality and build influences, too… Each button and switch feels solid and pleasing to operate. Only some haphazard ergonomics and the large swathe of horizontal plastic dashboard trim disappoint.
Is it loaded with lots of safety features and other nice toys?
The upmarket look and feel is highlighted – quite literally – by six-colour mood lighting that runs across the doors and dash contours. You’ll also notice the large infotainment screen (unfortunately, this system is the car’s biggest let down, and could do with a lot of refinement) that grants you access to a seven-speaker sound system and navigation.
Even this base model offers dual-zone climate control, electric foldable side mirrors with demister, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, keyless entry and start, and automatic headlights and wipers. There’s also electronic stability programme, front and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera, and hill ascent and descent control!
Significantly, the City misses out on Xenon headlamps, side and curtain airbags and tyre-pressure monitoring. You have to say, though, there is still a lot of value to be had…
What’s it like from behind the wheel?
There’s decent value under the hood too. In the H6 C you have at your disposal a two-litre turbopetrol engine that produces a strong 140 kW power and 310 Nm torque. It provides fairly strong performance in a pleasingly refined manner. However, it does seem to be thirsty… Given the South African buying public’s propensity toward diesel-powered SUVs, Haval might want to consider offering this option to reach a wider audience.
Our test car was fitted with the six-speed manual transmission, which was inconsistent in its engagement feel between ratios that resulted in some missed shifts. I wouldn’t bother with it, though, and go straight for the six-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT).
At 4,5-m long, 2,1-m wide and 1,7-m tall, the H6 C is fairly large and, as such, the cabin is spacious (and offers decent cargo volume). The front and rear independent suspension does a good job of keeping the mass in check and creating a comfortable, refined ride; aided by the comfy cloth-covered seats.
Should I buy one, or look around?
The Haval H6 C 2.0T manual City retails at R329 900 and is offered with a competitive five-year/100 000 km warranty, a five-year/60 000 km service plan, and a five-year/unlimited km roadside assistance. At that price it stacks up well against some established and left-field competition.
With the weight of expectation looming large, it’s clear that even this entry-level model benefits from high levels of engineering and presents very good value for money. My only suggestion would be to opt for the DCT model.
Nonetheless, it’s clear Haval has another winner in its arsenal.
CyberStoep rating: 7/10