The go­ing will be tough

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Bush & Beach - CHRIS RILEY

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 mar­ket­ing boss Tim Smith be­lieves the H6 can 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.

The ve­hi­cle de­buts a new sixspeed twin-clutch au­to­matic, de­vel­oped by trans­mis­sion spe­cial­ist Ge­trag and fit­ted with pad­dle-shifters.

Its 2.0-litre four-cylin­der turbo pro­duces a bet­ter than av­er­age 145kW/315Nm, with drive to the front wheels. The power out­put shades most ri­vals but comes at a cost — the H6 uses a claimed 9.8L/100km, com­pared with the CX-5’s 6.4L.

H6 will come in Premium and range-top­ping Lux spec, the lat­ter with faux leather, 19inch 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 not au­to­mated emer­gency brak­ing.

The H6 is yet to be tested by ANCAP.

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. 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 use the pad­dles for rapid gear se­lec­tion.

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. VER­DICT 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.

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