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Car reviews - Haval - H6 - range

Our Opinion

We like
Cabin space, price, features list, exterior styling
Room for improvement
Thirsty, sat-nav should be factory fit, steering calibration, localisation of safety warnings

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Haval logo7 Sep 2016

By STUART MARTIN

THE SUV invasion of Australian roads continues unabated and Haval’s H6 has arrived to seek a slice of the burgeoning medium SUV action.

Conservatively handsome in appearance, design director Pierre Leclercq talked of appropriate road stance and proportions and it is easy on the eye – calling it a coupe (as the Frenchman does) is drawing a long bow, but anyone mistaking it for an Evoque from the rear will be excused.

Inside, the cabin space is immediately apparent, as is the look of the layout and the more cohesive overall dashboard, compared with its H2, H8 and H9 stablemates, with clear dials and a centre display ahead of the driver, missing only a speed readout but displaying tyre pressure and temperature and fuel economy.

Quirky graphics on some buttons and some interesting placement remain but largely it works well, the Luxury model’s shifter and infotainment and electric park brake controls reminding many of the Audi centre console.

The sub woofer-equipped sound system is more than adequate but there’s no smartphone integration beyond standard Bluetooth as yet.

The man-made leather seat trim on range-topping Lux variants is soft and comfortable, with powered adjustment – as well as reach and rake adjustment for the busy leather-wrapped steering wheel – resulting in a high-set but reasonable driving position, if not overly wide in terms of the front footwell.

Rearward and three-quarter vision for the driver is restricted by a narrow window aperture and solid C- and D-pillars, hence the reversing camera and parking sensors offered as standard, but the exterior mirrors are of a good size.

Also standard on the flagship Lux is a large sunroof, which is welcome on a sparkling winter’s day, but the flimsy sunshade and broad expanse of glass isn’t going to give the dual-zone climate control an easy time in the middle of summer.

Rear seat passengers get ample head and legroom, with an adjustable backrest angle but no sliding seat base it’s not really needed as the 191cm driver in this instance can easily slot in behind his own driving position.

The Lux comes with seat heaters for the outboard rear occupants as well as vents, but no 12-volt or USB outlet the front occupants get those features beneath the centre console lid.

Also absent for now is any satellite navigation, with a local supplier lining up to fix that problem with a new infotainment head unit – it’s perhaps an oversight that should be sorted ex-factory.

Bootspace appears about average for the segment, although there’s no official figure from Haval, with a space-saver spare beneath the floor.

Getting underway and the 145kW/315Nm 2.0-litre turbo four is enthusiastic once beyond 2000rpm, which is where peak torque begins, but given it is an 1800kg-plus proposition with two burly Aussies on board during the launch drive, there’s some work to be done overcoming inertia.

It’s exacerbated a little by the dual-clutch transmission, which can be quickened by switching to Sport mode, but it’s still conspiring with the turbo to hesitate before getting underway.

When it eventually does, the pace is brisk and the H6 is quiet and remarkably smooth, sitting nicely – if perhaps a little too firmly – in the road, although the trip computer’s 11 litres per 100km suggest it’s still working hard.

The Chinese have made a good fist of taking the sharp edges off the bumps even with 19-inch alloys and Cooper tyres (which get a little noisy on coarse chip bitumen), as well as retaining decent body control.

Where the chassis engineers have some work to do is in the steering department, as the H6 has been endowed with an overly heavy helm, which weights up as you begin to turn and then eases a little, before weighting up again.

It’s not ideal but what’s worse is the Chinese safety quirk of firing up the hazard lights if braking and turning into a corner becomes even moderately quick – the hazard light fuse was in danger of disappearing into the small glovebox.

Switching into the base Premium variant drops the trim back to cloth and it isn’t a savage drop in cabin quality or features – it also loses the sunroof and makes do with manual seat adjustment and 17-inch alloys, which takes the ride fussiness over small bumps down a peg.

The trim is comfortable and it is only some of the lower-door plastics that let the H6 down for a solid quality feel.

The brand has made serious headway in getting up to speed in the automotive world and the H6 is a prime example, while acknowledging the psychological hurdle of buying an unfamiliar brand made in China.

Phones, furniture and laptops sourced from Chinese manufacturing seem less of an issue for consumer now.

But the idea of putting you and yours into a vehicle that needs to potentially deal with a catastrophic impact, if it’s made in China that perception of lower build quality has been a tougher sell.

That is likely to be made a little less difficult a proposition by the new H6, but much will be made of its ANCAP score when it finally appears.

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