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?

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - WORDS FRASER STRONACH

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

PHO­TOS PHIL COOPER

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.

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