• Haval's new SA-bound Jolion will replace the H2 in the coming months.
• The new SUV was first shown at the 2020 Beijing Auto Show.
• It rides on the same platform that underpins the H6 and Big Dog SUVs.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
It has been a tumultuous time for name changes in South Africa: Port Elizabeth has become Gqeberha, Uitenhage is now known as Kariega, King William's Town has been renamed to Qonce, Maclear has changed to Nqanqarhu, Katkop is now known as Ngqayi, Mfabantu has become Khohlombeni, and Berlin is now called Ntabozuko.
Some of these new names are real tongue-twisters, with many native South Africans finding it almost unpronounceable (not to mention tourists to the country). Meanwhile, Haval South Africa has launched an online teaser campaign for what essentially is the replacement model for its H2 compact SUV, now named Jolion.
Haval (and its parent company GWM) has obviously taken to heart the adverse local reaction to its suggested Poer nameplate for its P-Series bakkie, and - to make the new SUV's designation more palatable and pronounceable - changed the name outside China from Chulian (it means First Love in Chinese) to Jolion.
While the name seems to be a direct translation, a publication in Russia (where the Jolion is set to be imminently launched) described the name as a conflation of the English words 'joy' and 'lion'. This, however, seems an improbable explanation, and a quick search for meanings of the word Jolion in English indicate 'great companion' and 'graceful'. At the same time, the name Jolyon means 'youthful' or 'soft-haired'.
Following its initial introduction to South Africa in May 2017 (three years after it was launched in China), the H2 proved immediately popular, with 400 units sold on average per month in 2019. A revamped and upgraded version was launched here early last year, and its Chulian (Jolion) successor was first shown in September at the 2020 Beijing Auto Show.
The new Jolion is based on Haval's oddly named new modular Lemon platform, underpinning the latest H6 and Dagou (Big Dog) models. It has fresh, crisp and contemporary styling but seemingly only a slightly upgraded engine and drivetrain combination.
According to preliminary figures, the 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine now delivers 116kW and 220Nm of torque (compared to 105kW and 202Nm for the current H2). Besides a six-speed manual transmission, there is also a seven-speed DCT (versus a six-speed auto in the H2) driving the front wheels.
While Haval South Africa has not yet announced a specific launch date for the Jolion (also to be built outside of China in Haval's plant in the Tula region of Russia), it is expected to be within the next two to three months. Hopefully, the company will then disclose what exactly it had in mind with the name change.