TopGear South Africa was the first local publication to get a sneak peak at Haval’s next generation plans when they launched the H6 and GWM P-Series to the world at the Auto China show in 2020. It was already clear from the display cars that the incoming Haval and GWM cars were of a particularly improved ilk especially as far as appealing design went. Fast forward a few months and Haval South Africa has launched the GWM P-Series; the Haval Jolion and the H6 into the market. All of these were received with enthusiastic delight considering local sales figures that place Haval higher than KIA, Renault and Nissan – these represent its closest rivals in our context.
And whilst design really is improved, our time with the Haval H6 has informed us that the improvements aren’t just surface level. The H6 is a far more considered vehicle from the ground up, and yes, wrapped in an outward delivery that we’d describe as handsome and modern with influences that are clearly oriental and Euro-centric at the same time.
The H6 sports a relatively large frame compared to many of its myriad rivals stretching 4.6 m in length, 1.88 m wide and 1.73 metres high. There are benefits to this on the interior but outwardly, the new Haval face is generously apportioned with a large frame grille that separates the LED headlights and vertically-slatted fog light surrounds. The use of a chrome look plastic isn’t to all tastes but striking it certainly is. There’s dynamic 18" wheels on high profile rubber with a pair of flank lines that lead your eye to the rear section that sports a full-length taillight, reminiscent of some VAG-stable products. It’s distinct and contemporary and has none of the copycat feel you may be tempted to consider.
The Haval H6 makes a pleasant and striking first impression and it’s much the same as you step inside.
The Haval H6 boasts an all-new cabin architecture. It’s a minimalist design focused on comfort, usability and advancement. The user layout is an all-digital affair, with distinctly brand-centred graphics, fonts, layouts and overall design. It’s different to anything you’ve seen yet very quickly, you’ll be comfortably navigating your way around the touchscreen menus and the driver information display menus from the multi-function steering wheel.
The raised central console features an open centrepiece that allows for extra storage, a more usable front compartment for both passenger and driver alike. It houses a new rotary drive controller that adds to the overall flair of the cabin.
Quality faux-leather wrapped seats and steering wheel add to what can only be described as a quality cabin. The seats feature 6-way electric adjustment for the driver and 4-way adjustment for the front passenger and they feel premium and comfortable.
The only noticeable issues from our test was a slightly unpolished key-less entry system as you place your hand into the door handles recess. It takes some practice and doesn’t have the consistency others have.
And then the steering wheel itself is quite thin in diameter and you may not like that. That said, it feels suitably soft and just as well put together as everything else. That’s more a personal preference than anything else.
The range-topping motor is the 2.0-litre turbo petrol unit that punches strongly delivering 150 kW of power with most of it quite high up in the rev range. Torque figures are 320 Nm between 1,500 – 4,500 r/min. It’s a punchy engine combined with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Shifts are fast and smooth and the transmission control unit does a fine job of choosing cogs even in the available Sport. There are four driving modes available in the front-wheel drive Haval H6: Eco, Standard, Sport and Snow. These work in conjunction with a further three steering modes named Sport, Comfort and Light.
The ride quality is good and the cabin damping is even better. The H6 rides very well as far as ride refinement is concerned. It’s a pleasant drive all round. Dynamically it isn’t as capable or sporty as the driving modes may suggest exhibiting some severe body roll during harder cornering and dipped braking. This isn’t anything to be overly concerned about but the H6 was so good a surprise that we had to try. It is a high-riding SUV with a high centre of gravity and it is clear that Haval has looked to comfort and practicality rather than sheer sportiness. That said, don’t discount the powerful engine – it gets going when it needs to even displaying some torque steer as you get the hammer down in low gears.
Added to the driving experience, the Haval H6 is highly equipped with safety technology. I was suitably impressed with the fitment of semi-autonomous safety features such as active cruise control that operates at any speed – not many cars with this function do this. Lane change assistance and autonomous emergency braking is also on the list as is a 360-degree camera view and cross-traffic alert. The glaring missing link here was the absence of blind-spot assistance which feels like it really should be here. Everything else is.
A medium-sized family SUV is not difficult to find. There are very many from which to choose and it is a good segment as far as consumer choice is concerned. You’ll find a number of absolutely excellent products to match most needs and budgets.
Starting at R419,900, the Haval H6 is offered in front-wheel-drive(driven here) and all-wheel-drive derivatives. It’s incredibly well priced and offers unbeatable value as far as I’m concerned. It’s an absolutely lovely SUV. The only real argument you may have for not wanting one is a lack of powertrain variations but this 2.0-litre was up to the task at hand during our stint.
In order to really increase their market share in this highly contested space, the Haval H6 needed to raise the bar – not just its own bar within the GWM stable, but also the segment bar. The H6 had to obliterate whatever brand refutations it previously couldn’t and really beckon people to take notice.
That is exactly what this H6 has done, in much the same way as the Jolion has. Haval is cooking with serious gas at the moment and as consumers, we’re all the better for it. As for its competitors, they need to be very worried.