As one of the most popular segments in the market, any manufacturer looking to gain increased share of the South African new-vehicle market would be crazy to not have a contender in the R200 000 to R300 000 bracket of compact soft-roading SUVs.
It’s little wonder then that, when launching an entire new brand to the market, Haval has decided its first vehicle would play in this segment. It is the Haval H2, and I tested it in the range-topping 1.5T Luxury trim.
The rebranding of Great Wall Motors (which is now owned by its Chinese parent company) to Haval, has not only resulted in a new image for the company, but for its vehicles too. From the outset, it appears as though the H2 has raised the bar for Chinese vehicles. It is good looking in a Eurocentric way, if slightly generic and if borrowing a few minor styling elements from other brands.
Indeed, every time I looked at the rear of the H2, I had flashes of “poor-man’s Porsche Cayenne”…
Not that the H2 should be seen as a poor-man’s SUV … no, in the H2 it is clear that the days of Chinese vehicles being the budget option (and that’s not only in terms of price) are at an end. If no one told you of the H2’s origins, you’d never be any the wiser.
The H2 is an SUV I could happily own and live with every day. Once within the neat and logical interior, one is greeted by a soft-touch dashboard and generally high-quality fittings. The only obvious flaw was a scratched trim panel on the dashboard. But every button and switch operates with a reassuring solidity.
Happily too, the eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display is well designed and intuitive to use. This is just one of the many features of the well-equipped Luxury-spec model, which also includes a sunroof, elegant interior atmosphere lighting, leather seats (electrically adjustable for the driver), dual-zone automatic climate control, side and curtain airbags, front active headrests that supports the neck in the case of a collision, and a reversing camera.
There’s a second, rather brilliant camera as well … it’s mounted underneath the left-hand side mirror and, at the touch of a button on the steering wheel, it shows the car’s nearside blindspot. Such a simple, practical, brilliant feature!
All models in the range feature a tyre-pressure monitoring system, keyless entry and start, and cruise control. Exclusive to the automatic models is electronic stability control.
Automatic our test model was and here, too, Haval has moved the game on for Chinese vehicles. The turbocharged 1,5-litre petrol engine produces 105 kW power and 202 Nm torque. It delivers its power eagerly, pulling well throughout the rev range. The six-speed automatic shifts smoothly and is generally quick to react to driver demands, however, the pre-programmed shift modes seem to make no sense and selecting “snow” mode resulted in the smoothest and most economical town-driving experience.
Overall, I averaged 10,6 l/100 km – not bad for a petrol-powered car of this size.
Riding on all-round independent suspension the H2 rides and handles well, despite bump absorption being slightly on the firm – but not at all uncomfortable – side. There’s also a fantastic amount of passenger room, and rear-seat passengers should be particularly comfortable.
So, priced at R309 900, is the Haval H2 Luxury worth taking a chance on? While some would automatically compare it to the Renault Duster 1.5 dCi Auto (R289 900) and JMC Landwind 5 Flagship Auto (R289 880), the H2 really stands at a higher level…
It is a genuine contender in a compact-SUV segment that includes formidable players such as the Renault Captur Dynamique Auto (R309 900) and Ford EcoSport 1.5 TDCi Titanium Auto (R312 900); and it’s these against which I feel it should be compared.
It offers genuine value for money, seems to be well built and is decent to drive. I’d go so far as to say it is the best vehicle to come out of China thus far – bar none.
And, for those who remain uneasy with the idea of parking a relatively unknown brand in their driveway, Haval offers a five-year/100 000 km warranty, a five-year/60 000 km service plan and five-year/unlimited kilomerte roadside assistance.
CyberStoep rating: 7,5/10