HAVAL A NICE DAY
Haval’s new premium H9 SUV sevenseater: better than you’d think!
HAVAL’S CATCHPRASE FOR ITS range of SUVS is ‘have it all’, and it’s very apt: firstly, it covers the pronunciation of the brand, ‘have-al’, and second, it succinctly describes the equipment levels of the seven-seat Haval H9 SUV.
There are internal and external styling cues from other brands, Mercedes bonnet vents and headlights come to mind, as do a few Toyota Prado elements, on which it’s clearly inspired by and targeted at. In fact there are many areas where it looks or feels like another car, but for a young Chinese company on the scene since 2014, the Haval H9 makes a strong case.
It’s very well equipped, equivalent to cars almost twice its price: heated steering wheel, power heated seats – also with cooling – and even a seat massage function. There’s lane assist, blind spot warnings, and plenty of tech like Bluetooth, tri-zone climate control and an Infinity sound system in the Ultra model we tested, though absent are radar cruise control, smartphone mirroring and emergency braking. Happily, it offsets this with a large touchscreen, panoramic sunroof and switchable mood lighting for the overhead console and door trims. The supplementary passenger seat adjustment switches on the driver’s side is pure genius!
It’s big, at 4.86m long, slotting between the 4.76m Prado and the 4.9m CX-8; and 1.9m tall, so it can be an intimidating beast. It does feel a bit boaty behind the wheel though, if pushing a little too hard, the soft and compliant suspension soaking up all the bump and lumps.
Performance? What engine would you expect? Considering Prado sports a 2.8-litre turbo diesel, and CX-8 gets a 2.2-litre diesel, it’s initially a little surprising to discover a 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine. On paper, the power and torque numbers are reasonable – 180kw/350nm – but then throw in the weight of 2230kg thanks partly to the ladderon-frame chassis, and it should be slower than a rainy week in Gore.
Impressively it isn’t (with apologies to any Gore readers, assuming they can read…). The engine runs a strong 18psi boost and crucially, the engine’s ideally matched with an eight-speed ZF auto gearbox that squeezes the juice from every last kilowatt. Zero-to-100km/h arrives in a decent 9.7 seconds, faster than any of the top utes, though the numbers are a little deceiving as
response can be doughy at times. Loaded up to build boost against the brake, the H9 moves nicely, but on a street start – foot from brake to accelerator – it loses a chunk of speed, with 0-60/0-100 times of 4.6/10.6 seconds. What that means in real-world driving is that sometimes the handy shift paddles are required to manually choose the right gear.
While the 2.0 turbo does a good job on the whole, it’s sometimes short of breath and a little thirsty; Haval claims 10.9l/100km, though we saw 13s of largely urban work, also noting the need for 95 octane.
Second row seats are fore-aft adjustable and accommodated nicely, with a large centre fold-down armrest with cup-holders and storage, though the third row’s access is mainly by the driver’s/road side. Small kids, who are the most suitable candidates for the rear, may find access easier through the rear door, which opens horizontally and pivots from the right side, offering safe kerbside access.
The third row 50/50 split seat also raises/ stows electrically, though boot space can be a bit tight with seven aboard.
With a tow rating of 2500kg, it manages a lot for a little. Pricing for a comparable Prado is around $70, so the Haval is priced right, starting from $43,990 for the H9 base LUX, or another $4k for the Ultra.
It’s not the best SUV around, nor does it claim to be. Even considering long-term ownership and depreciation, it’s a package worth short-listing given the low entry cost and high equipment levels.
Being better than expected is always a pleasant surprise.
Interior is packed with features. Comfy electric seats feature heating, cooling and massaging! Note passenger seat switches on the driver’s side.
Interior lighting is customisable, good for distracting badge snobs.
Clockwise from top left: Third row access is via the driver’s side tilting second row, so kids might be better suited to climbing in via the horizontal tailgate door. Rear seats feature climate control. Panoramic sunroof in the Ultra model. Boot space becomes limited with the third row up, though the seats are easily lowered (or raised) electrically.