Can the Chinesemade Haval cope on Aussie roads?
The Haval H9 is aimed squarely at Toyota’s Prado, but has it got what it takes to threaten the class leader?
Chinese carmaker Haval debuted in Australia late in 2015 after coming into existence as its own brand just two years earlier in March 2013. Before that, Haval was a series of models produced by Great Wall Motors. In creating the Haval brand, GWM appears to be making an upmarket pitch in a fashion similar to what Toyota did with Lexus.
Haval is China’s largest SUV nameplate and has been for 13 years, and when Haval became its own brand in 2013 some one million Havals had already been sold under the Great Wall banner.
In Australia, Haval sells three models: the H2, H8 and H9. The H2 and H8 are both light-duty SUVS, while the H9 you see here is a ‘serious’ 4x4. In many ways the H9 is a take on Toyota’s Prado, which it was benchmarked against during development.
The H9 shares the basic body dimensions and seating arrangement of the Prado 150 and, like the Prado, is built on a separate chassis with a coil-sprung live axle at the rear, double wishbone coils at the front and dual-range full-time 4x4. In fact, Haval’s engineering vice president is former Toyota chief engineer Suguya Fukusato, who was lured to Haval to oversee the development of models like the H9.
POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE
Where the H9 differs from the Prado is with its engines. There’s no diesel H9 and the sole engine is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four cylinder. In many ways that sounds all wrong in terms of its suitability to power a 2300kg 4x4, but this engine is surprisingly effective; although, certainly not perfect.
The engine is a modern design, the likes of which you’d expect to see in a European car, with direct injection
Prado-esque interior dimensions can fit a family in comfort. You’re all out of luck if you want a diesel. Turbo petrol is the sole option.