Chi­nese have a lash VI­TALS

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Road Test -

The H2 is con­ser­va­tively styled, with sim­ple graph­ics and a plain-look­ing but func­tional dash. Over­all it looks well put to­gether and the de­sign­ers have used soft-touch ma­te­ri­als where many ri­vals would use hard plas­tic, in­clud­ing the rear doors and arm­rests.

Head­room is gen­er­ous in front and rear alike but the cargo space is not huge, ham­pered by the full-size spare un­der the floor. Rear vi­sion is lim­ited thanks to thick rear pil­lows and a nar­row rear wind­screen. We found the odd quib­ble with the fin­ish of the cabin — there was a crease in the fab­ric of the wind­screen pil­lar that needed fix­ing. The H2 is a mixed bag in the city. The sus­pen­sion gen­er­ally copes well with cor­ru­ga­tions and pot­holes, pro­vid­ing a com­fort­able ride on most sur­faces, but the tur­bocharged en­gine needs revs on board to make mean­ing­ful progress.

This be­comes irk­some around town, par­tic­u­larly in the man­ual we drove. Roll around a cor­ner into an up­hill stretch of road and you’re al­most bet­ter kick­ing back to first gear than wait­ing for the turbo to spool up. It also oc­ca­sion­ally makes a dis­con­cert­ing hum­ming sound, as if sus­pen­sion or en­gine com­po­nents are har­mon­is­ing.

The Haval is also a bit light on for driver aids, apart from a re­vers­ing cam­era and sen­sors. There’s no sat­nav and no blind spot or lane de­par­ture warn­ing. Au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing isn’t avail­able ei­ther.

There is, how­ever, an an­noy­ing “park­ing aid” that sup­ple­ments the vis­ual park­ing guide­lines on the rear cam­era with a voice that tells you how to park the car.

It may look like an off-roader HAVAL H2 PRE­MIUM PRICE $26,490 plus on-roads WAR­RANTY 5 years/100,000km SER­VIC­ING $960 over 42 months SER­VICE IN­TER­VAL 6 months/5000km, then 12 months/10,000km SAFETY 6 airbags, not yet tested EN­GINE 1.5-litre 4-cyl turbo, 110kW/210Nm TRANS­MIS­SION 6-speed auto; 4WD THIRST 9.0L/100km (95RON) DI­MEN­SIONS 4335mm (L), 1814mm (W), 1695mm (H), 2560mm (WB) WEIGHT 1615kg SPARE Full-size al­loy TOW­ING 1200kg but the H2 is ill-equipped for ven­tur­ing off the beaten track. Ground clear­ance is just 133mm, com­pared with 155mm for a Mazda3. All-wheel-drive is avail­able but our test car drove only the front wheels.

The H2 feels com­pe­tent enough on the high­way, where the en­gine, once it has found its sweet spot, is im­pres­sively re­fined. Sound sup­pres­sion over­all is as good as many in the class, al­though coarser sur­faces in­duce some tyre roar.

The H2’s steer­ing is less than pre­cise, though, and it will wan­der on the high­way, call­ing for reg­u­lar in­puts from the driver. Try to take a cor­ner at speed and the H2 will lean on its tyres un­til they quickly squeal for mercy. In the wet the tyres are skaty. The 1.5-litre en­gine is slowspin­ning and has a very lim­ited band of use­ful power (be­tween about 2000rpm and 4000rpm). Drive it in the sweet spot and it feels strong, drift out of the com­fort zone and it’s ei­ther slug­gish or buzzy.

The man­ual gear­box is rel­a­tively fuss-free, al­though the gear lever has a bit more travel than most would like. Of­fi­cial fuel consumptio­n is poor for this class of ve­hi­cle at 9.0L/100km (and it takes pre­mium un­leaded only). We man­aged close to that in heavy traf­fic, though. The Chi­nese car in­dus­try is definitely im­prov­ing and the H2 has some en­dear­ing fea­tures. But un­for­tu­nately they are out­weighed by the neg­a­tives. The price is not sharp enough and the equip­ment list isn’t long enough to over­come con­cerns about safety, qual­ity, the lim­ited dealer net­work and re­sale.

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