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Future models - Haval

Shanghai show: Haval plans to cover all SUV bases

Chinese burn: Great Wall’s all-SUV sub-brand, Haval, has already starting shipping launch vehicles to Australia for its June debut.

Australia to get four new Haval SUV models within six months … just for starters

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Haval logo21 Apr 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

FROM a standing start in June, Australia’s newest motor vehicle brand, Haval, is aiming to have four SUV models in showrooms by about Christmas, with more to come.

Ranging from the compact H2 with a pricetag starting in the low-$20,000s to a full-sized ladder-chassis H9 off-roader from about the mid-$40,000s, the Great Wall SUV sub-brand line-up is the result of a massive research and development program designed to lift Great Wall’s Chinese-built products to Japanese and Korean levels.

The company says the vehicles have been engineered to deliver a five-star crash safety rating and will be backed by a five-year warranty.

The styling has been done by a team of more than 130 international designers now headed by Belgian-born BMW designer and former head of BMW M design, Pierre Leclercq.

The appointment of the man who penned the BMW X5 and X6, as well as the M3 and M5, is reminiscent of Kia’s appointment of former Audi designer Peter Schreyer who turned Kia into one of the world’s most stylish mainstream brands.

While Haval’s SUVs have been developed with western markets in mind, the products have delivered a meteoric sales rise for Haval in China where the brand was not only number one in SUVs last year but has been enjoying a further 99 per cent sales increase this year.

The first Haval products to go on sale in Australia will be the baby of the range, the H2, and its biggest brother, the Toyota Prado-sized H9 flagship.

The small H2 will go up against the likes of the Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Qashqai and Honda HR-V. It will be powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 120kW of power and 280Nm of torque.

The first batch of H2s on the way to Australia for the June 1 national launch will have a six-speed manual gearbox, but the second shipment arriving in July will gain an alternative seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

H2 will be offered in 4x2 and 4x4 guises, with a choice of two equipment specifications.

The seven-seat H9 that will also kick off the brand in June gets Haval’s 2.0-litre turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder engine that will be widely used throughout the range.

This 160kW/324Nm powerplant will be joined late in the year by an alternative 248kW/485Nm turbocharged petrol V6 and a 140kW/410Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel.

A six-speed automatic transmission will be standard on H9, but from next year that will be elevated to a ZF eight-speeder.

The H9 is engineered for genuine off-road travel, with an all-terrain, dual-range all-wheel-drive drivetrain with multiple modes. Like the H2, the H9 will be offered in two equipment levels.

In July, about one month after the initial launch, the H2 and H9 will be joined by the Jeep-Cherokee-sized H8, armed with the same 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine as the H9. Again, the range will be widened with the arrival of a 3.0-litre turbo V6 and 2.0-litre turbo-diesel in H8 later in the year.

About Christmas or perhaps in early 2016, the newest Haval product – the H6 Coupe that was launched at the Shanghai motor show this week – will become the fourth Haval model in Australia, taking the fight up to the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Nissan X-Trail.

The 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine will be standard in this vehicle that, like the Range Rover Evoque, gets a low roof line for sporty appearance, hence the ‘coupe’ tag.

However, that tag might not make the trip to Australia, where the powers-that-be are considering calling the vehicle simply H6 to avoid confusion.

The changes will keep coming in 2016 when the 2.0-litre engine will get a power boost, to about 180kW.

As well, Haval has a hybrid powertrain under development, and this will be considered for the Australian market.

While the H2 will the smallest Haval model offered in Australia, an even smaller vehicle, the H1, is out in China, but because it cannot make the five-star NCAP rating that Haval has mandated for its export products, it will not be considered.

Pricing will not be announced until closer to launch, but Haval Australia chief marketing officer Tim Smith – a former Kia and Subaru sales and marketing staff member – says the new Haval range will be built on high value and high standards of technology, safety and finishes.

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