Latest additions to its Haval H9 put the heavy-metal sports utility vehicle up against some of the world’s best in the premium SUV market at prices the opposition can only dream about.
Continuing its foray into the seven-seater four-wheel drive SUV, the Chinese automobile manufacturer has added to an extensive suite of safety features without lifting he price of its two variants, the H9 Lux and Ultra.
That means for $41,990 and $45,990 driveaway, respectively, both get the advantage of autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning.
The Lux already boasts tri-zone air-conditioning, rain sensing sunroof, auto Xenon headlamps and wipers, electro chromatic rear-view mirror, rear camera, park guidance, all terrain control and Haval’s signature laser puddle lights.
The Ultra adds heated and ventilated massaging front seats, a rain sensing panoramic sunroof, a 10 speaker Infinity sound system, heated steering wheel, Comfort-Tec seating, electric folding third-row seat and adaptive front lighting that illuminates corners.
Haval has also made its seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty and five-year national roadside assistance, through Australian motoring clubs, standard across its vehicle range.
The Haval H9 may be big, but it’s not brassy. Thanks to upgrades last year, the radiator grille eschews much of the chrome adornment favoured by rival SUVs, relying on five strips of the shiny stuff to provide a laid-back canvas for the Haval nameplate.
At the same time, the lower air intake was reworked for improved air flow into the engine bay and the front foglamps adopted a more circular design. Both grades come standard with all-new, five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels.
Ultra occupants settle into Comfort-Tek eco-leather seats, while taking advantage of pleasant, well-lit surroundings thanks to a panoramic sunroof with an easy-to-use dial and retractable sun blind.
Focus of the instrument panel is a large TFT screen – the result of feedback from Australian buyers – that displays a host of information including digital speed readings.
Also shown are journey time, trip meter, average speed, average and instant fuel usage, driving range and the tyre pressure monitoring system, all accessed via a steering wheel-mounted switch.
To the left are a traditional analogue tachometer, with analogue temperature and petrol gauges on the right.
An 8-inch TFT LCD touchscreen takes centre stage, linking with. GPS satellite navigation.
There’s a 10-speaker Infinity audio (4 tweeters, 4 mid-range, 1 centre channel, 1 sub-woofer) but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Following the engineering trend for smaller capacity, forced induction engines, the H9 makes use of a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit, producing peak power of 180 kW at 5500 rpm and 350 Nm of torque at an easily accessible 1800 to 4500 revs.
Performance and fuel economy are optimised by hooking up to an award-winning ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, boasting low range and teamed with an Eaton locking rear differential, offering a 2500 kg braked trailer towing capacity.
Passive safety is taken care of by dual front and front-side airbags, as well as curtain bags across all three rows.
To the already standard reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors is now added autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning.
Considering the heft it has to handle, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is surprisingly supple, even when under load. Along with fuel efficiency, modern turbocharging can take the credit here. Overtaking on the highway is particularly impressive.
A major downside was some hesitation on take-off with the stop / start system slow to engage.
Petrol consumption on the combined urban / highway cycle in the test Haval H9 was recorded at up to 17 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and a miserly 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres on a motorway run.
Haval’s proven All-Terrain Control System optimises off-road performance in sand, snow or mud, while 4L is for the toughest conditions, or when maximum traction is required.
Auto mode automatically adapts to any on- or off-road situation, while Sport is for the driving enthusiast with the ZF transmission holding lower gears for longer. At speeds below 80 km/h, it locks out the two overdrive gears, making it ideal for urban driving.
Haval spruiks the H9’s seven-seat capacity. The sidestep and grab handles were welcome when getting in and out of the high-riding H9 Ultra test vehicle. However, the third row does come with its limitations. The seats are folded easily enough electrically by means of push buttons behind the rear doors.
However, getting in and out of them doses pose some problems: access through the rear doors is skinny and tangling with the second-row seatbelts is an unwelcome trial.
The seats themselves have their disadvantages, the high floor forcing occupants to sit in an almost head-between-knees position. Children and smaller folk fare better.
Also, with the seat backs in the upright position cargo are behind is almost totally eliminated, with space only for briefcase or laptop thickness cargo standing upright.
The skinny pricing and extended seven-year warranty make the Haval H9 an attractive proposition. Any lingering doubts about quality and reliability are steadily shrinking at the hands of some adept Chinese manufacturing and the H9 is poised to take the challenge up to some stiff competition in a densely populated segment.
AT A GLANCE
MODEL LINE-UP (Prices driveaway)
Haval H9 Lux auto $41,990
Haval H9 Ultra auto $45,990
(Haval Ultra 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, 8sp automatic, 4WD SUV)
Capacity: 1967 cc
Configuration: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged petrol, eight-speed automatic
Maximum Power: 180 kW @ 5500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 350 Nm @ 1800-4500 rpm
Fuel type: Petrol 95 RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 10.9 litres per 100 km
Drivetrain: Longitudinally mounted in-line four-cylinder engine with turbocharger, dual VVT and direct injection. Eight-speed automatic, 4-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4856 mm
Width: 1926 mm
Height: 1900 mm
Wheelbase: 2800 mm
Kerb mass: 2250 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres
Turning circle: 12.1 m
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Seven years / unlimited kilometres