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Review: Haval H2 1.5T Luxury Automatic

2017-07-04 12:04

GWM HAS A NEW NAME: Great Wall Motors enters its 10th year on the local market as China's best-selling SUV has launched in South Africa. Image: Quickpic

Alan Rosenmeyer

Johannesburg - At the height of the Cold War there was a saying, "the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming". In today's tough world economy you could hear the cry, "the Chinese are coming, the Chinese are coming".

In motoring terms, the Chinese advance troops have been edging into the South African vehicle market for a few years now.  

However, a major onslaught has just begun and it's set to shake up the market in a very big way.

GWM, or Great Wall Motors, has established themselves by offering bakkies that have built a reputation for being tough and reliable, albeit a bit crude but offering exceptional value for money. Now, under a new banner in SA, they have launched the first of a range of SUVs bearing their own upmarket brand name of Haval.

The name may not be familiar to many South Africans but if you look at the fact that the total new car sales in SA were a little over 500 000 in 2016, then you can understand the scale of Haval selling 1 million SUVs in the same year. They are certainly not big players in the world market.

The H2 was only launched onto the local market about a several weeks ago.

Tough market

The Haval H2 is best described as a medium-sized family SUV, entering into a very crowded market segment. So how does it hold up against this opposition? Especially in the context of being an unknown brand locally and coming from a source that has, to date, been viewed critically?

As an entry point, Haval has taken a leaf out of the book of the well-known Korean brands who entered the SA market by offering exceptional specification levels at much lower prices than the opposition. Unfortunately, in the beginning, the quality was perhaps not a match to the value.

Well Haval has taken the specification and price advantage concept AND jumped straight in with quality to match all competitors.

The test vehicle provided, in glistening white, was the top of the range Luxury model with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Specification levels of the entire range are high with items like climate control, electronic parking brake, hill descent control (on automatic versions), ABS braking with EBD, keyless go and many more.

The luxury model adds items such as full leather trim, sunroof, electric folding mirrors when locking, a touchscreen infotainment system with reverse camera, electric adjustment on the drivers seat and additional curtain airbags.

How does it drive?

The H2 range is powered by a 1.5-litre, 4 cylinder petrol engine with turbo kicking out a significant 105kW/202Nm. I was pleasantly surprised by the power and acceleration of this engine, feeling like this was a much larger engine. Freeway cruising at 120km/h is a breeze with the engine ticking over at just over 2000rpm.  

Overtaking acceleration showed no noticeable turbo lag. Road-holding and handling are comfortable and clearly on par with similar vehicles of this type.

The 6-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and efficient and makes for an easy and relaxed driving style. During normal driving, shifts are smooth and go almost totally unnoticed.

With fuel economy being such a critical issue to buyers, during the test period I used the H2 mainly for commuting purposes with some traffic involved. I returned the car with the on-board computer showing 8.2-litres/100km which should be easily achievable.

Rear seat space is once again on par for the market sector, as is the boot space. There is a full-sized alloy wheel under the boot floor and a pull-out cover to hide valuables from prying eyes.

From a subjective point of view, I approached this test looking for issues with which I could fault this newcomer to the local market. With the thought that, if it looks too good to be true it possibly is, in my mind, I even tried to persuade myself to only evaluate the H2 from the value for money perspective.

Yet it starts by offering exceptional value for money, then it adds a top spec and level of luxury and tops it off with quality and a ride that I couldn't fault.

For peace of mind, the purchase price includes a 5-year or 60 000km service plan, a 5 year or 100 000km warranty plus 5 years/ unlimited km roadside assist.

If this is the first of the Haval range to be launched in South Africa, imagine what's coming soon.

Range and Prices:

H2 City Manual - R244 900
H2 City Auto - R279 900
H2 Luxury Auto - R309 900 (as tested)

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Read more on:    haval  |  alan rosenmeyer  |  h2  |  suv  |  review

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