China’s Haval com­ing to taste SA’s gravel

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

GREAT Wall Mo­tors (GWM) cel­e­brates its 10th year on the lo­cal mar­ket by, rather con­fus­ingly, chang­ing its name to Haval — the group’s pre­mium sub-brand.

This is the brand un­der which GWM has been rac­ing in the Dakar and lo­cal man­age­ment re­as­sured the own­ers of over 55 000 GWM ve­hi­cles that had been sold through 40-plus deal­er­ships in SA that they can look for­ward “to an on­go­ing raft of best­selling, con­tin­u­ally up­dated GWM prod­ucts”.

Charles Zhao, MD of Haval Mo­tors SA, said the South African mar­ket plays an im­por­tant part in the com­pany’s in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion strat­egy.

“Go­ing for­ward we will con­tinue to dis­trib­ute Haval and GWM ve­hi­cles, of­fer parts and ser­vice sup­port as well as ad­min­is­ter war­ranties through the al­ready estab­lished dealer net­work.”

New mod­els in­clude facelifts to the Steed bakkie line-ups, as well as the pop­u­lar H5 and H6 SUVs. But the big news is that pre­mium Haval prod­ucts are set to be rolled out — start­ing with the Haval H2 at the end of this month.

As the pre­mium sub-brand of GWM, Haval needs to do a lot bet­ter for GMW than what, for ex­am­ple, Nis­san’s pre­mium sub-brand, In­fin­ity, is do­ing in SA.

Mean­while, GWM ad­vises Haval is pro­nounced to rhyme with “gravel” in China, where it’s a mas­sive brand, hav­ing achieved sales of over one mil­lion units last year, mak­ing Haval the best-sell­ing SUV brand in China.

In­deed, the H2 seems set to shake up the un­quench­able SA mar­ket for sub-com­pact cross­over, with its mix­ture of ex­cel­lent driv­ing dy­nam­ics, slick styling, high safety lev­els, and su­perb qual­ity in­side and out.

Pow­er­ing the H2 is a proven 1.5-litre tur­bopetrol mo­tor mak­ing 105 kW and 202 Nm.

Drive is to the front wheels via a sixspeed man­ual or au­to­matic gear­box, and equip­ment lev­els are stel­lar, with ev­ery­thing from durable, man-made “leather” up­hol­stery to a high-res­o­lu­tion touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. And re­as­sur­ingly, this ve­hi­cle boasts a five-star C-NCAP rat­ing.

Haval SA said the price will be the big­gest sur­prise for SA, bat­tered by a weak rand. They said the H2 prom­ises to un­der­cut the com­pe­ti­tion in this hugely pop­u­lar seg­ment, of­fer­ing a stan­dard, five-year or 100 000 km war­ranty and five years’ road as­sis­tance.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

The Haval H2 is com­ing to SA to com­pete in the com­pact cross­over seg­ment.

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