If you are extremely political correct and hate SUVS it would be best not to read further as the Hummer H3 will just make you hot under the collar.
The Hummer is the perfect embodiment of what an SUV should be: it is big, bold, in your face, has presence, is a fashion accessory and a gas guzzler, and it will sell in huge numbers. And now South Africans can finally indulge in the Hummer craze too.
Soon suburban South Africa will be invaded by Hummer H3s.
The first South African-built H3s are ready to hit local showrooms, and you'd better hurry if you want to get your hands on one as General Motors says that they are being bombarded with orders. Pricing is competitive too, as the entry-level model retails for less than R375 000.
Anyway, if you like it or not the Hummer H3 is to become a familiar face here. General Motors is producing it at their Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth for local distribution as well as export. According to GM they invested over R650m in the Hummer production programme, which created 500 new jobs.
In the metal the Hummer H3 appears quite compact and size-wise it is more or less on par with the Nissan Pathfinder. However, its boxy and aggressive styling make it look like an extreme machine.
The wide track, short overhangs, and huge tyres boost its macho image. The H3's flat, chiselled surfaces are pure Hummer, as are the upright windshield and windows.
Other key design elements include the signature seven-slot louvered grille, round headlights in their square surrounds and pronounced fender flares. It actually looks as if the H3 was carved from a solid block of metal.
Of course the Hummer brand itself oozes with testosterone too which could evoke fear and respect from fellow motorists. Or they might just loathe you.
Under the bonnet
Power comes from an in-line, five-cylinder, 3.7-litre engine, while GM is apparently also developing a turbodiesel unit for introduction at a later stage. Maximum power is 180 kW at 5 600 r/min and torque is 328 Nm at 4 600 r/min. GM claims an average fuel consumption of 14.7 litres per 100 km.
These figures might look good on paper but the Hummer is not some outrageous force of nature. The vehicle is more a cruiser and it doesn't take a lot of effort to drive the vehicle.
The H3 comes with a choice of either manual or automatic transmission, but we'll rather opt for the manual 'box as the four-speed automatic is not the most refined.
The steering is nicely weighed too and the turning circle of 11.3 metres is on par with some family cars.
Two trim levels are available. The standard model gets cloth trim, while the 'Advanced' derivative features leather trim and ample use of chrome finish on the bodywork.
Across the range there are electric windows, a front-loading radio/CD combination is fitted, cruise control and dual airbags.
Hummer has a track-record of off-road supremacy and the H3's off-road capability is good. The baby Hummer has what it takes to be a dominant player in the rough and tough.
It comes with an electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system, augmented by a full range of driver aids including traction control.
Push a button (you can do this "on the fly" up to around 40 km/h) and it'll lock the centre diff and give you a pure 50:50 split - in other words you'll still have drive at the rear even if a front wheel is spinning, and vice versa.
Or you can select four-low, which changes the ratios and introduces a LOUD whine from the straight-cut transfer 'box gears. In which case it goes a lot slower and will go just about anywhere.
To show off the H3's mettle, GM sent us into sand dunes where we tackled some crazy obstacles with ease.
Under body shielding ensures good protection too.
Among the H3's off-road capabilities GM lists the ability to ford at depths up to 407 mm at a speed of 32 km/h and cross a 610mm deep section of water at 8 km/h.
The H3 is equally capable over sand and rocky surfaces. Ground clearance is 216 mm and the maximum break-over angle (the ability of the vehicle to drive over a sharp ridge without the underside snagging) is 23.5 degrees.
A maximum approach angle of 37.5 degrees and a departure angle of 34.6 degrees allow the H3 to drive through deep, steep sided, obstacles without getting hung up at the front or rear.
The Hummer is a distinctive SUV and looks like nothing else on the road. Here is a vehicle with military genes, which was repackaged for everyday use. It is all about the image.
It doesn't disappoint either, as it is competitively priced and isn't only about the looks. You do get a lot of car for your money. It is true to the Hummer name too as it is capable in more extreme conditions.
H3 (standard) manual: R374 000
H3 (standard) auto: R379 000
H3 (Advanced) manual: R420 000
H3 (Advanced) auto: R440 000