The going will be tough
China’s H6 lays claim to be the world’s fifth best-selling SUV — but it has to face the longstanding local favourites
CHINESE SUV specialist Haval has added a fourth model to its local line-up.
The H6, a mid-size softroader, will take on the country’s top-selling SUVs — Mazda’s CX-5, Toyota’s RAV4 and Hyundai’s Tucson.
It is likely to find the going tough, though, with a starting drive-away price that matches the Tucson at $29,990 but comes without satnav, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
It’s been almost 12 months since the brand, an offshoot of Great Wall Motors, made its local debut.
In that time it has struggled to make an impact, selling less than 200 cars.
But chief marketing officer Tim Smith believes the H6 has what it takes to put the company on the map.
It’s the most popular SUV in China and the fifth-largest selling SUV in the world year to date, Smith says.
“We now have a competitor that offers a fantastic proposition for Australian customers in the medium SUV segment,” he said.
The vehicle debuts a new sixspeed twin-clutch automatic for the brand, developed by transmission specialist Getrag and fitted with paddle-shifters.
It’s hooked up to a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo that produces a better than average 145kW of power and 315Nm of torque, with drive to the front wheels. All-wheel-drive is available overseas matched to a manual transmission but the brand doesn’t think that combination would work here.
The power output shades most rivals but it comes at a cost — the H6 uses a claimed 9.8L/100km, compared with 6.4L/100km for the CX-5.
H6 will come in two guises, base Premium and rangetopping Lux, the latter with faux leather, 19-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, panoramic sunroof and heated seats front and back.
Satnav is expected to be a $1000 option by the time the car goes on sale in October (we’re told the feature fitted to cars in China will not work here).
Safety equipment includes six airbags, reversing camera, blind spot warning and front and rear park sensors but automated emergency braking isn’t available on any model.
The H6 is yet to be submitted for testing by ANCAP. The H6’s larger sibling, the range topping H9, scored four out of five stars in May but the brand has no immediate plans to present an example for testing.
The H6 is the work of Frenchman Pierre Leclercq, who penned BMW’s X6.
The design is muscular and contemporary, fit and finish are good and there is impressive rear legroom with a deep boot that stores a space-saver spare.
The car can be ordered with metallic or two-tone paint, with combinations of coloured interior trim for no extra cost.
ON THE ROAD
The more we drove the H6, the more we warmed to it. It’s pretty quick off the mark, with punchy mid-range performance and plenty in reserve for overtaking. You can let the transmission do the work, or use the paddles to flick through gears in rapid succession.
There are three drive modes, including sport. In reality, however, their effect is restricted to the throttle and they seem to have little impact.
On the Lux’s 19-inch wheels, the ride is generally good but the suspension fails to soak up smaller bumps.
The electric power steering could be sharper and lacks turnin accuracy, though it has a comfortable on-centre feel and is not tiring to drive.
On one section of particularly windy road, the car impressed, remaining flat with plenty of grip, although the brakes lack feel.
A more convincing effort from the Chinese brand. It looks good, delivers decent performance and the finish is impressive inside and out. There’s still some work to do, though, to match the heavyweights in the class.