Much improved H2 a great bargain too
The original Haval H2 notched up a modest 34 sales off its June 2017 launch. Now it sells 400 units a month – 464 in December alone.
Benefiting input from several Haval R&D centres worldwide, the quite extensively revised H2 small SUV now features a six-speed automatic transmission similar to that found in Hyundais and Kias for the first time, but its perky1.5-litre turbo petrol engine is an in-house Haval design. The handy 105kW 202Nm 4-cylinder boasts advanced technology and impressive all-round performance.
From the outside there are subtle changes to the grille and front end, while the new car is lower and a visually smoother, more modern rear end as the brand begins to grow a character all of its own. Inside, fit and finish is good and the dashboard layout is modern, neat and uncluttered.
All operational switches and buttons clearly marked and within easy reach, the centre console adopts piano-lacquer materials along with atmosphere lighting and the seats are at an average hip-height, which for easy entry and exit, so there is no awkward climbing as is the case in many SUVs.
A multi-function steering wheel controls audio, screen page display, cruise and hands-free Bluetooth telephone controls, behind which a comfortable, upright driving position provides enhanced vision of the road ahead and the fashionable multi-functional 3D dashboard shows essential driving info including instantaneous fuel consumption, range among its technical and entertainment options.
H2 safety features include six crash bags, a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, keyless entry, featuring advanced radio frequency identification technology and anti-lock braking, all of which contribute to H2 earning a 5-start ANCAP crash test rating.
The launch of this well-priced car was held in high winds and heavy rain so somewhat skewed perceptions but I came away impressed with the handling, lack of body roll and stability in the face of the sturdy Cape Black Southeaster.
To me, the automatic gearbox was a bit ‘grabby’ and constantly hunting for gears, but to be fair my steed had only 300 km on the clock, while colleagues said they were impressed with the smoothness of the auto both in up and downshifts.
Haval uses the catchphrase ‘drive to impress.’ H2 certainly did!
A growing force
Looking at Haval in South Africa, you probably 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 the passenger vehicle division of Great Wall Motors of China – or GWM as we have come to know it, had sold 7 525 units locally .
Like Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia, GWM and Haval has grown from being a cheap car manufacturer feeding a voracious China local market to become a significant player on the global stage with subsidiary companies in dozens of countries.
Locally, what began as a distributorship has morphed into a subsidiary now wholly-owned by GWM with 55 dealers across South Africa and its immediate neighbours with a further five likely by end-2020.
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.
Best of all is that the Haval confirmed at this week’s H2 launch that it recently opened an assembly plant in Russia and even hinted that 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. Now who said there was no future in cars as we know them? – Colin Windell
Haval H2 Pricing
City auto R305K
Luxury auto R330K