Chinese have a lash VITALS
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.