You know the name, you have seen the cars on the road but, if asked, probably struggle to get that name to emerge from the deepest recesses of your mind – yet, between 2017 and the end of last year, had sold 7 525 units locally.
The name is Haval, the passenger vehicle division of Great Wall Motors (GWM) of China.
Like Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia, GWM and Haval have grown from being cheap car manufacturers feeding a voracious local market to being significant players on the global stage with subsidiary companies in dozens of countries.
Locally, what began as a distributorship has morphed into being one of those wholly-owned (by GWM) subsidiaries with 55 dealers across South Africa and its immediate neighbours with a further five likely to be appointed during 2020.
At the launch of the new Haval H2, the company announced it had recently opened an assembly plant in Russia and even hinted there might be one on the cards for South Africa to service the continent as public confidence in the young brand turns to increased product volumes.
The original H2, launched in 2017, notched up a modest 34 sales in June of that year but, now sits at average monthly sales of 400 a month – reaching 464 in December last year.
With a local parts stockholding exceeding R100-million and a first pick rate of 97%, the local company is confident it has completed the step up from ‘cheap Chinese’ to be able to stand proudly against other contenders in the classes in which it competes.
The H2, which competes in small SUV segment has been quite extensively revised and now features a six-speed automatic transmission for the first time. This outsourced unit is essentially the same as found in both Hyundai and Kia products.
The 1,5-litre turbo-charged petrol engine at the heart of the H2 is an in-house Haval design and the car itself is the result of input from the several R&D centres the company has in various parts of the world.
From the outside there are subtle changes to the grille and front end, while the new car is lower and the visual effect from front to rear is smoother, more modern and beginning to grow a character of its own.
Inside, fit and finish is good quality and the dashboard layout is modern, neat and uncluttered with all operational switches and buttons clearly marked and within easy reach. The centre console adopts piano-lacquer materials along with atmosphere lighting.
The seats are at an average hip-height, which provides easy entry and exit, so there is no awkward climbing as is the case with some other SUVs.
Behind the wheel, the comfortable upright driving position provides enhanced vision of the road ahead, while the 3D, fashionable and multi-functional dashboard shows essential driving information, including instantaneous fuel consumption, remaining driving mileage and the latest technical entertainment options.
The multi-function steering wheel bristles with controls for audio, page display on the screen and dash, cruise controls and the hands-free Bluetooth telephone.
The new Haval H2 incorporates advanced technology for the 4-cylinder 1,5-litre turbo-charged enginethat provides 105 kW maximum power output and 202 Nm peak torque output.
The safety features on the new H2 include six crash bags, a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, keyless entry, featuring advanced radio frequency identification technology and anti-lock braking – the H2 having received a 5-start ANCAP crash test rating.
The launch drive was held in high winds and heavy rain so somewhat skewed perceptions but I cam away impressed with the handling (in the conditions), lack of body roll, stability in the face of the strong Cape winds.
For me, the automatic gearbox was a bit ‘grabby’ and constantly hunting for gears. To be fair my car had only 300 km on the clock and colleagues said they were impressed with the smoothness of the auto both in up and downshifts.
Haval use the catchphrase ‘drive to impress’ . . . and it did!
|Pricing||2019 new H2|
|Retail||R269 900,00||R294 900,00||R304 900,00||R329 900,00|