What is it?
Simply put, we’ve spent a fair amount of time in Chinese cars this year – and for many reasons, this one, though, is the best. It aims to be nothing less than a Premium SUV segment contender on the cheap, a confident cruiser bereft with off-road ability if not to challenge, then to happily also-run against the likes of the Toyota Land Cruiser ala Prado. It bears Haval's most convincing design and technological revolution yet – if not as modern as the smaller H6C.
What's so special about it?
Its Haval's flagship, isn't it? For good reason too. This is the car that will affirm the Chinese brand's ongoing design and ethos – with hard to challenge value. I mean it’s cheap. And I mean it is packed to the rafters with safety equipment such as ABS, BA (brake assist) and ESP, HAC (Hill-start Assist Control), RMI (Roll Movement Intervention) and HAC (Hill-start Assist Control). Plus, there’s all the connectivity tech for smartphone and multimedia requirements. Not to mention mod-cons galore.
What drives it?
A mighty turbo charged 2.0l engine lives under that acre of pearl bonnet, with an impressive 180kW and 350Nm churning via an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. Acceleration is linear but the car is a heavy old thing – tall too, and so suffers a bit of lethargy and a smidge of roll – but nothing more than you’d expect in this class of vehicle. A variety of driving modes live here ranging from Auto to Sport, Mud, Sand and Snow modes, plus 4L for extreme conditions.
It's an elegant and calming environment, with a large eight-inch touchscreen dominating the dashboard. As for the seats, they're comfortable pews for sure. Again, the sense that you’ve seen it all before is only mildly annoying, and strangely comforting – it feels precisely like a familiar semi-premium SUV with great gravel aspirations.
Any driving enjoyment to be had?
Well, plenty really. The H9 shunts along at good pace while resembling the lovechild of a Toyota Prado and Mercedes-Benz GL. It didn’t stutter or cause for concern in the slightest during my week with it and that turbo blown motor packs a sizeable punch. I liked it just fine.
So its practical?
Very much so, with seven seats as standard, a tall greenhouse for maximum natural illumination. For the buyer’s peace of mind it comes with a 5-year/100 000 km warranty plus a 5-year/60 000 km service plan, and 5-year/unlimited km roadside assistance.
Anything else I need to know?
Yes – the best part in fact, its price. At R599,000 it offers incredible bang for your buck. It feels accomplished and at that sticker price is ‘right on the money’. It isn’t trying too hard either, or taking itself too seriously, rather tries to be the kind of car that grows into your life and family like a fluffy Chow.
Yes, you’re right to have your reservations about Chinese cars, but the world’s fastest growing economy (at number 2 globally now) hasn’t gotten where it has by shirking the hard work required to grow. And while the H9 may seem familiar, it isn’t a blatant copy of anything that’s come before – one of our biggest criticisms of their industry. The H9 is a great car, and at a great price. Get one if you’re feeling brave.
Haval H9 2.0T AWD Luxury Spec:
|Engine ||2.0l inline 4-cyl, turbocharged, petrol|
|Average Fuel Consumption||10.9l/100km|
|CO2 Emission ||254g/km|