Mandurah Coastal Times - - DRIVEWAY - Bill Buys

HAVAL is a brand name well worth get­ting used to, be­cause, like the Hyundai of some decades ago, it’s bound to be­come a win­ner.

What makes Haval dif­fer­ent is it's from a com­pany that makes noth­ing but SUVs and it's been a top seller in its class in the world's big­gest ve­hi­cle mar­ket for years.

Also, like most things on the mar­ket to­day, from Ger­man­brand white­goods to US com­put­ers, Ja­panese mo­bile phones and Ital­ian shoes, it is pro­duced in China.

Haval builds a range of SUVs, all with num­ber suf­fixes: H2, H6, H8, H9, with the H6 likely to be the most pop­u­lar.

It’s about the size of ri­vals such as CX-5, Rav4, Tuc­son, CR-V and X-Trail and comes in two lev­els of spec, Pre­mium and Lux.

They have sim­i­lar front-wheel driv­e­trains, a strong 2.0litre turbo petrol mo­tor and 6-speed Ge­trag dou­ble-clutch (auto-like) trans­mis­sion with pad­dle-shift and econ­omy, nor­mal or sport set­tings

It's a good-look­ing ve­hi­cle, de­signed by Pierre LeClerque (exBMW), beau­ti­fully built and very well en­gi­neered.

Drive-away prices start at $29,990 for the Pre­mium, which has 17-inch al­loys, dual-zone cli­mate con­trol with rear vents, key­less en­try and start, four-way leather-clad ad­justable steer­ing, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, plus rear-view cam­era and blind spot mon­i­tor­ing.

The multi-me­dia gear in­cludes a 7-speaker au­dio sys­tem with Blue­tooth, and 8-inch colour touch­screen, CD ca­pa­bil­ity and aux-in, USB and SD ports.

The Lux, as tested, is $33,900 and comes with heated seat­ing front and rear, a panoramic glass sun­roof, 19-inch al­loys, 8-speaker au­dio sys­tem and an 8-way pow­ered driver's seat and adap­tive self-lev­el­ling Xenon head­lights.

Com­mon to both are fea­tures such as vari­able am­bi­ent light­ing – seven dif­fer­ent hues – stain­less steel scuff plates, pud­dle lamps that spell out ‘Haval’, auto-on head­lights and wipers, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing, hill de­scent con­trol, hill start as­sist and a com­pre­hen­sive safety sys­tem.

Miss­ing is satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, but it will be avail­able soon, with free life­time up­grades.

In­side, there’s a neat dash with wood trim, gen­er­ous head and legroom, tilt-ad­justable rear seat and lots of stor­age.

The H6’s 145kW/315Nm mo­tor pro­vides am­ple power and though there's a barely sus­cep­ti­ble lurch from the Ge­trag on take-off, it's one of the most com­fort­able and best-han­dling SUVs on the road, thanks to its Mac­strut front and so­phis­ti­cated dou­ble-wish­bone rear suspension. The up­mar­ket Cooper tyres are also stan­dard. Sporty driv­ers will love it.

The solidly built H6 prob­a­bly has a cou­ple of hun­dred kilo­grams more mass than its ri­vals, which shows in the fuel con­sump­tion. Of­fi­cial rate is 9.8litres/100km, but best we got was 10.9. Still, not bad for a ve­hi­cle of such class.

The cargo area is quite large and has the temp spare stored un­der­floor. The car comes with fixed-price 10,000km ser­vices, a re­as­sur­ing five-year/100,00km war­ranty and five years free road­side help. It's a fun thing at night: switch the am­bi­ent light­ing to green and folk in neigh­bour­ing ve­hi­cles might see you as newl­yarrived Mar­tians.

Verdict: Im­pres­sive. Most def­i­nitely worth a look.

Haval's high-spec H6 fairly brims with fea­tures.

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