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Turbo power for Great Wall’s all-new SUV

Number one: Great Wall’s all-new H6 is China’s number-one SUV, outselling Volkswagen’s Tiguan in its domestic market.

China’s top-selling SUV to get turbo engine when Great Wall H6 lobs here in 2014


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19 Sep 2013

A SMALL but feisty bi-turbo four-cylinder petrol engine is expected to power Great Wall’s first all-new model in Australia for four years, the H6, when China’s biggest-selling SUV arrives Down Under in the first half of next year.

The 110kW 1.5-litre engine marks a turning point in petrol powertrains for Great Wall Motors in Australia as it moves away from the aged and sluggish Mitsubishi-sourced 2.4-litre engine employed since the brand arrived here with the SA240 and V240 ute ranges in 2009.

Importer Ateco Automotive still has yet to officially sign off on the H6, but it is going through the certification process with the intention of launching it here in the first quarter of 2014.

The RAV4-sized H6 – also known as Haval H6 in China – is built on a monocoque platform, dispensing with the old cloned Toyota 4Runner ladder chassis that underpins Great Wall’s current twin X-Series SUV models, the petrol X240 and diesel X200.

The H6 effectively replaces the X240 that faces the axe next month when electronic stability control (ESC) becomes mandatory in Australia on all new passenger vehicles. However, the diesel version, the X200, has ESC, and will continue to be sold in parallel with the H6 for an unspecified time.

Ultimately, Ateco is expected to import a diesel H6 to replace the X200, while also pushing for automatic transmission variants of the H6.

Thanks to the car-like chassis and lighter powertrain, the H6 will weigh in at about 1600kg – a massive 200kg lighter than the 1805kg X240 and almost 300kg lighter than the 1890kg X200.

Along with a smaller and more efficient engine, this weight saving is expected to provide significant fuel savings over the X240, which uses 10.3 litres per 100km according to official combined fuel consumption tests.

And with ESC and side curtain airbags now available, the H6 might have a chance to score five stars in the Australian New Car Assessment (ANCAP) crash safety tests, which require these features for maximum scores.

The X240 scored four stars in ANCAP tests – one of the best results for a Chinese-made vehicle in this country and significantly superior to the two-stars scored by Great Wall’s V240 ute.

The H6 has been engineered with western markets in mind. It is not only destined for Australia but also Europe and the UK and a host of other markets.

Like the X240, the H6 will be sold only with a manual gearbox, at least initially, but will get six speeds in place of the five gears of the older vehicle.

The H6 was launched in front-wheel-drive form a year ago in China, with an all-wheel-drive model added to the range in March this year.

Originally, it was expected to land in Australian showrooms about now, but plans for its debut were pushed back to the first quarter of 2014.

No indicative pricing has been given, but expect its front-drive version to undercut similar-spec rivals such as the $27,990 Holden Captiva 5 and $26,990 Kia Sportage.

At 4640mm long in its Chinese guise, the H6 is 44mm longer than the Holden Captiva but about 25mm narrower.

It rides on MacPherson strut front suspension and sophisticated double-wishbone rear suspension, promising ride comfort and handling improvements over the X240.

The H6 will become one of the few compact SUVs to be powered by a small-capacity turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

The Chinese-made engine pumps out 110kW at 5600rpm and 210Nm of torque from 2200rpm, putting it in a similar league to Volkswagen’s Tiguan compact SUV that produces 118kW and 240Nm from its 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine in its entry-level front-drive version.

It is not surprising that Great Wall adopted this small-capacity-turbo engine format for the H6, as the Tiguan is its main rival in the Chinese domestic market.

There, the H6 is the number-one-selling SUV, with 20,968 sales in August, while the Chinese-built Tiguan is number two, on 16,996 units that month.

The sales performance of the H6 places it in the top 10 vehicles in China, about the same level as the Chevrolet Cruze and VW Bora (Golf sedan).

The H6 is expected to be joined in Australia by Great Wall’s first small passenger car in this market, the Corolla-sized VX30, in about the middle of next year.

This also is likely to get a version of the variable-valve-timed 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine that generates 78kW and 138Nm in naturally aspirated form.

In China, this car is available with a choice of manual gearbox or continuously variable transmission (CVT), and logic suggests these will also be on the agenda here.

As GoAuto reported in July, Great Wall’s smaller VX10 light hatchback has been shelved indefinitely for this market after the dollar devaluation skittled the business case for the car.

Great Wall importer Ateco Automotive had already gone to the trouble of homologating the VX10 under the Australian Design Rules, opening up the possibility of re-opening import plans should the Australian dollar soar again.

The addition of new models comes at the right time for Great Wall's Australian importer Ateco Automotive. The company has sold 4600 vehicles this year, which is down a hefty 40.3 per cent on the same time in 2012.

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