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Car reviews - Haval - H6 - Luxury

Our Opinion

We like
Interior space, price, decent features list, aesthetics
Room for improvement
Thirsty powerplant when pushed, no satnav ex-factory, steering, hyperactive safety systems

Gallery

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Haval logo22 Dec 2016

By STUART MARTIN

Price and equipment

FIRST and foremost, the Haval H6 is aiming to compete on price, launching with sharp driveway pricing, which on the range-topping Lux variant was $1000 less than the official $34,990 (plus on-road costs) pricetag for the Lux – how long that ‘launch’ pricing lasts remains to be seen.

That outlay buys 19-inch alloy wheels, man-made ‘eco-leather’ seat trim, seat heating for the power-adjustable (eight-way for the driver and four-way for the passenger) front and outboard rear seats and a panoramic sunroof with a sunshade not robust enough for Australian sun conditions.

The features list also includes a reach and rake adjustable leather-wrapped steering wheel, ISOFIX child seat anchor points, keyless entry and ignition, a 7.0-inch colour LCD screen, an eight-speaker sub-woofer and USB-equipped sound system, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming, tinted ‘privacy’ rear windows, an electric park brake, an auto-dimming centre mirror, dual zone climate control with rear vents, heated and folding power adjustable exterior mirrors (with puddle lights) and cruise control.

That puts it in the region of a Mazda CX-5 front-drive petrol Maxx Sport, which has less power and torque, but less kerb weight to overcome.

The Mazda gets sat-nav and claims better fuel economy as a result of its lithe kerb weight and it doesn’t need premium unleaded either.

It also undercuts the petrol front-drive version of the Jeep Cherokee and slots in near the mid-level front-drive petrol Kia Sportage SLi, Hyundai’s Tucson Active X and Honda’s front-drive CR-V VTi-S all bar the Cherokee would be more likely to end up on a shopping list for key features, road manners, reputation and reliability.

Interior

Measuring 4549mm long, 1835mm wide and 1700mm tall, the H6 sits on a 2720mm wheelbase and is similar in size to a Mazda CX-5.

But an extra 20mm of wheelbase helps inside and the extra cabin space is immediately apparent.

Head and legroom – particularly in the rear – is above average for the segment, even without a sliding rear seat the rear backrest however can be adjusted for angle.

At 191cm your correspondent was easily accommodated for head and legroom behind our own driving position.

Rear occupants get an armrest with cupholder and storage compartment but the absence of a 12-volt or USB in the rear (both are offered up front and there’s a blank in the console suggesting it is there in other markets) is an oversight worth correction.

Some plastics are a little on the scratchy side but the man-made ‘leather’ results in a comfortable seat feel, if not masses of lateral support.

There’s inspiration been taken from Audi’s centre stack and gearshift area, but the layout and look of the dashboard and instrumentation is a lot easier to read and operate.

The driver gets clear dials and a centre display between the speedometer and tachometer, missing out on a speed readout but displaying tyre pressure, tyre temperature and fuel economy among the readouts.

A busy steering wheel has reach and rake adjustment but that and the high-set driver’s seat does result in an ‘on’ rather than ‘in’ driving position.

Vision for the driver is a little less than ideal, with rearward and three-quarter vision restricted by a narrow window aperture and solid C and D pillars, hence the camera and sensors coming standard, but the exterior mirrors are of good size.

Some of the ancillary button functions around the gear selector aren’t immediately apparent, with some unconventional graphics and placement, but for the most part it all works well.

That said, having a button purely to change the ambient light colour, rather than leaving it in a menu somewhere, exemplifies some of the odd priorities.

The top-spec model’s sub-woofer equipped sound system is one of the highlights for sound quality, although it is let down by the absence of full smartphone integration – only standard Bluetooth connection is available.

The flagship’s standard – and large – sunroof which is welcome in winter but the flimsy sunshade won’t let the dual zone climate control (with rear vents) rest during summer.

Engine and transmission

The Haval brand is dabbling in diesels but seems more enamoured with turbo-petrol and petrol-electric hybrids, so for now the only power plant on offer in the H6 is a direct-injection turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine.

It’s no slouch, serving up peak power of 145kW at 5200rpm and 315Nm from 2000rpm, which the brand claimed at the launch was well ahead of power and torque outputs of its similarly-priced competition.

The front wheels get that via a Getrag six-speed twin-clutch automatic – equipped with paddle shifters – and claims an official fuel use figure of 9.8 litres per 100km.

That number climbs if the right foot over-indulges around town but temperate throttle use and highway cruising saw the number on test reduce to 12.4L/100km at a 48km/h average speed.

That’s by no means the most frugal in the segment and is not helped by a weight penalty over the bulk of its opposition in the area of 250kg.

So when overcoming inertia the 145kW/315Nm 2.0-litre turbo four is being asked to do plenty and it’s smooth and enthusiastic about the task once the tachometer is over the 2000rpm mark and into the meat of the turbo’s efforts.

But given it is a 1784kg proposition before occupants and a bit of gear, it’s not being left under-worked it does hesitate a little, a conspiracy involving the turbo and the twin-clutch auto.

Sport mode lessens that delay but that can mean wheel spin even at moderate departures, not to mention two lots of warning chimes (one for the button push and a second to let you know that you’ve opted for Sport mode in case you have short term memory problems) every time you select that mode.

Ride and handling

The H6 is an example of how much progress has been made by the Chinese in the way the MacPherson strut front and double wishbone rear end takes some of the sting out of sharp bumps and deals well with larger undulations.

It’s done with some mindfulness of body control, but there’s still some work to be done.

More compliance and damping control is needed for it to cope with the pockmarked suburban road network in order to live up to its ‘Lux’ nameplate, even bearing in mind its 19-inch alloy wheels.

The firm ride would be easier to understand if the H6 handled but it doesn’t excel in that department either up to a point it does well enough, but sling it at a brisk pace into bumpy bends and it leans heavily on the outside front tyre with a solid dose of bodyroll.

What is also a little off-putting – and one of the things the brand acknowledges needs attention – is the habit the H6 (and others apparently) has of flashing hazard lights as the hyperactive stability control kicks in rather rudely.

The chassis engineers also have some work ahead of them in tuning the steering – the tiller is much too heavy for city work but the weighting once turning into bends on a swift backroad run is inconsistent, compounding any lack of confidence in the handling.

Safety and servicing

There’s no ANCAP crash test safety rating as yet – although the brand appears quietly (perhaps hopefully?) confident of a likely five-star rating – but the safety features list includes front, front-side and full-length side curtain airbags, stability and traction control, automatic Xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, front foglights and blind spot monitoring, although that system needs to be turned on every time the vehicle is started.

It also has – even though it’s only front-wheel drive and not at all set up for any off-road work – hill descent control, as well as hill start assistance, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and tyre pressure and temperature monitoring and a passenger side “curb-camera”.

The safety features list includes an auto dimming centre mirror, an electric park brake with auto hold function, auto door locking and a post-collision auto unlock function.

The warranty covers the vehicle for five-years or 100,000km warranty, with five years of roadside assistance and a ‘service menu’ package for the 12-month/15,000km maintenance intervals.

Verdict

The H6 is the brand’s latest and greatest SUV, a rolling demonstration that the region is fast learning from its and others lessons in the marketplace.

Priced to attract attention, it has a features list that will concentrate the mind of budget-conscious buyers, however its road manners – while improving – are not yet up to the best of the segment.

Rivals

Mazda CX-5 FWD petrol Maxx Sport from $33,490 plus on-road costs
Still a top-seller and a new one has arrived to keep its grip on the crown, the little Mazda might not be as powerful but it’s lighter and doesn’t need PULP.

The Mazda is well equipped and delivers a drive experience that puts it ahead of the H6.

Kia Sportage FWD petrol SLi from $33,990 plus on-road costs
The petrol front-driver might not be the most versatile offering under the Sportage bonnet (the diesel is worthy) but features, packaging (if not exterior aesthetics), a more than competent chassis and the best warranty in the marketplace at the moment make it a solid choice.

Hyundai’s Tucson Active X from $31,150 plus on-road costs
The little Korean has progressed in leaps and bounds and while it doesn’t have the outright oomph of the H6, it’s been given a suspension set-up that’s better equipped to deal with local roads and habits, as well as a decent features list, price and interior package put it on any shopping list.

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