• The third generation Haval H6 represents great improvements in all departments.
• A newly-developed 2.0 litre engine impresses with great performance.
• Very competitive pricing means that the Haval H6 offers extremely good value for money.
• For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.
Haval is a company on the move in South Africa, consistently selling more than 1500 vehicles a month. They have become a formidable player in the local market by letting their product speaks for itself.
The models sold by Haval and their bakkie brand, GWM, offer excellent value for money, and while the previous generation products still needed some refining, their latest products can truly stand equal among German, Japanese, and Korean competitors.
Their P-Series has upset the bakkie market, as has their recently launched Jolion, selling out in a matter of weeks.
Enter the H6
The Haval H6 is an important model for the Chinese brand as it is this medium-sized SUV that helped cement its reputation as a real player in recent years, and the third generation aims to take that one step further.
The second-generation H6 was not available in right-hand drive, so it was never sold in South Africa, meaning that this third-generation model represents a quantum leap in all departments compared to what South Africans experienced before.
The third-generation H6 is a brand new vehicle and has been significantly improved in all areas, including design, intelligence, power, safety and comfort.
Built on the same Lemon platform as the recently launched Jolion, it allows for the addition of an array of new technology. The platform is also considerably stronger while weighing less.
Hey, good looking
The Phil Simmons design flows beautifully from the front bumper and the mesh grille to the streamlined waistline. LED lighting is striking and effective and, along with 18 or 19-inch wheels, model dependant, rounds off the premium styling perfectly. The rear lighting signature screams premium, with a full-length red stripe that lights up the rear end as you hit unlock on the key.
Inside is what Haval calls an Oriental styled intelligent cockpit. The dashboard features two floating digital displays. Behind the steering wheel is a 10.25-inch full-colour instrument panel, and in the centre console is a 12.3-inch super-intelligent touchscreen from where the majority of functions are controlled, including the infotainment and climate control. This centre screen also displays the rearview camera and 360-degree view when parking and that display is of the highest quality I have ever seen; it is even possible to notice different coloured bricks on paved surfaces.
The high centre console features a rotary gear selector, electronic handbrake switch, cell phone tray and cup holder up top and a neat storage space below, which helps keep valuable items out of sight.
Large areas such as the dashboard and door panels feature leather and soft-touch materials, adding to the premium and comfortable cabin experience.
Latest generation technology includes adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition. Traffic jam assist allows the driver to engage cruise control in bumper-to-bumper traffic, taking the grind out of the daily grind. The top of the range Super Luxury model gains a heads up display, 15W wireless charging capability and intelligent tailgate to the offering.
Keyless entry and push-button start add to the convenience, although I did find the placement of the start button to be slightly hidden away near your left knee.
A negative Ion air cleaner and N95 grade filtration system ensures that the air in the cabin is cleaner than the air outside, and noise vibration and harshness levels are vastly improved.
Rear passenger legroom is excellent, and so is the size of the boot at 337-litres. The boot can be expanded by folding down the rear seats to enable the H6 to accommodate a 29er mountain bike without removing any of the wheels.
Under the bonnet
While the interior and exterior design offer significant improvements, personally, I feel that the biggest step forward has been in terms of the drivetrain. Under the bonnet is an all-new 2.0-litre direct injection turbocharged engine. The fruits of an in house design, this engine boasts 150kW at 6 000rpm and 320Nm between 1 500 and 4 000rpm, which creates a smooth and linear powerband. All models are paired with a second-generation seven-speed dual-clutch transmission complete with paddle shifters.
The vehicle is responsive, and power delivery is smooth throughout the rev range and really offered a rewarding driving experience, something often lacking in SUVs these days. Gear changes are seamless like those of a dual-clutch gearbox should be.
The engine is so good that you find yourself driving faster than you should, which affects fuel consumption. Still, normal conditions should see the figure settle well below the 10-litres per 100km mark, which is a big improvement over the previous models that suffered in this department.
Smoothing out the bumps
Comfort was clearly a key priority in the design process. From the seats to the suspension, it all does a great job of ensuring that customers are transported in comfort. A newly adopted McPherson strut independent front suspension and multi-link independent rear suspension vastly improve the handling capabilities, while the centre of gravity has been lowered by 20mm. The H6 offers 170mm of ground clearance, which is enough for any dirt road adventuring you might want to do.
A wheelbase of 2 738mm, an eight-way adjustable driver seat and four-way adjustable front passenger seat, and leather seats all around ensure maximum ergonomic efficiency and contribute to the comfort levels.
The latest safety equipment
A new generation safety suite includes electronic stability control, high-definition 360-degree view camera, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring system as well as a tyre pressure monitoring. An intricate pedestrian protection system with a collapsible energy absorption system, six airbags, anti-theft alarm and electronic immobiliser, are all standard features.
The new Haval H6 is extremely well priced for a vehicle of this size, quality and level of specification and, in doing so, competes against a wide variety of vehicles, including those that are of similar size as well as those that are smaller, and traditionally compete in a segment below, purely due to the aggressive pricing of the larger H6.
There is nothing major that I can critique the H6 on; in fact, it impressed in all departments, and I am sure it is going to ruffle more than a few feathers in the small and medium SUV segments.
At launch, the new H6 will only be available with the 2.0-litre engine, but Haval is expected to expand the line-up in August with additional models, including a 1.5-litre option.
All H6 models are sold with a five-year or 100 00km warranty, as well as a five-year or 60 000km service plan.