HAVAL H9 2019 review: Ultra
Not content with being China’s biggest auto brand, HAVAL is trying to win Australia over and is now throwing everything it’s got at us in the form of its H9 flagship SUV.
Think of the H9 as an alternative to seven-seat off-roaders such as the SsangYong Rextonor Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and you’re on the right track.
We tested the top-grade Ultra in the H9 range when it came to live with my family for a week.
The HAVAL H9 has probably never been in contention for any beauty awards, and HAVAL wouldn’t be concerned about that, but they have made some tweaks and, in my opinion at least, these do help the H9 cut a more stylish line. New for 2018 are 18″ alloy wheels as standard across both model grades (LUX and Ultra), there’s also some subtle styling changes front and rear, the end result being a vehicle you would be happy to be seen in.
On the Inside
The HAVAL team in China have again taken a large leap forward giving the 2018 version of the H9 a surprisingly classy cabin. There’s a new-look console, new dashboard, new ‘t-style’ transmission selector, and updated instruments for the driver. The overall feel and look inside the vehicle is exceptionally good, and might surprise some prospective buyers. The entry-level model comes with a sunroof as standard, while the top-spec model gets leather and a panoramic sunroof. Legroom up front and in the middle row is very good, the third row of seats provides enough space for children, or adults for short trips (same as every model in this segment of the market). Headroom is very good all-round too and this can be put down to the rather square shape of the H9 cabin.
“…it’s a good looking beast and far more handsome than those rivals…”
Entry and exit to the second row is made easy thanks to the wide-opening, tall doors and my four-year old son could climb into his seat by himself thanks to the rugged and grippy side steps.
Third-row seats are powered to lower and raise them into position, too.
There are air vents for all three rows, and controls for the climate in the second row.
Cargo storage is also impressive. With all three rows of seats in place there’s enough room in the boot for a few small bags, but fold the third row down and you’ll be given much more space.
We picked up a 3.0-metre long roll of synthetic turf and it fit in easily with the right side second-row seat folded, still leaving us with plenty of room for our son to sit in his child seat on the left.
Now the drawbacks. Access to the third row is affected by the 60/40 split of the second row with the larger folding section being on the road side.
Also the side-hinged tailgate makes it impossible to fully open if somebody parks too close behind you.
And there’s a lack of charging points on board – with only one USB port and no wireless charging pad.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 9/10
The Ultra is the top grade in the Haval H9 line-up and lists for $44,990, before on-road costs.
At the time of writing you could have the H9 for $45,990 drive-away, and depending on when you’re reading this that offer may still be in place, so check with the dealer.
That’s a stack of standard features for this price, but you’re not getting a whole lot more by going for the Ultra compared to the Lux.
Really, it comes down to brighter headlights, heated second row seats, power front seats and a better stereo. My advice is if the Ultra is too expensive, fear not because the Lux is extremely well kitted out.
Rivals to the Haval H9 Ultra include the SsangYong Rexton ELX, Toyota Fortuner GX, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLX or Isuzu MU-X LS-M. All list for around that $45K mark.
As a point of reference, the Lux is the base grade H9 and lists for $40,990 before on-road costs.
Coming standard in the H9 is an 8.0-inch screen, ‘eco-leather’ seats, nine-speaker Infinity sound system, rear privacy glass, xenon headlights, laser puddle lights, proximity unlocking, three-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats (with massage function), heated second row seats, panoramic sunroof, illuminated scuff plates, aluminium pedals, matt alloy roof rails, side steps and 18-inch alloys.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission? 6/10
The HAVAL H9 Ultra is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine making 180kW/350Nm. That’s the only engine in the line-up and if you’re wondering why a diesel isn’t offered, then you’re not the only one.
If you’re asking where the diesel is you’re probably wondering how much petrol the H9 uses, and I have the answers for you under the next heading.
Shifting gears smoothly is an eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF, the same company chosen by brands such as Jaguar Land Rover and BMW.
The H9’s ladder frame chassis and four-wheel drive system (with low range) are the right ingredients for a capable off-roader. During my time with the H9, however, I stayed on the bitumen.
The H9 comes with selectable drive modes including ‘Sport’, ‘Sand’, ‘Snow’ and ‘Mud’. There’s a hill descent feature, too.
The braked towing capacity of the H9 is 2500kg and HAVAL says the maximum fording depth is 700mm.
How much fuel does it consume? 6/10
I travelled 171.5km in the H9 but in my 55km loop of motorways and urban roads I used 6.22 litres of petrol, which comes to 11.3L/100km (the on-board read-out said 11.1L/100km).
That’s not terrible for a seven-seat SUV. Admittedly, I was the only person on board and the vehicle wasn’t loaded up. You can expect that fuel figure to rise with more cargo and people piling in.
The official combined cycle fuel consumption claim for the H9 is 10.9L/100km, while the tank has an 80-litre capacity.
A pleasant surprise is that the H9 has a fuel-saving stop-start system, but a not-so pleasant surprise is that it needs to be fed a minimum of 95 RON premium fuel.
What’s it like to drive? 6/10
The H9’s ladder frame chassis will work to its advantage off the road, providing good rigidity, but as with any body-on-frame vehicle on-road dynamics aren’t going to be its forte.
So, the ride is soft and comfortable (the rear multi-link suspension set up would be a major part of that) the overall driving experience can be a little agricultural. These aren’t show-stopping issues, and you’ll find the same in a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport or Isuzu MU-X.
More disappointing are the things HAVAL could easily fix. The seats are flat and not the most comfortable, the steering is a little slow, and that engine has to work hard and isn’t particularly responsive.
There are also some strange quirks, too. The altimeter read-out said I was at 8180m driving through Marrickville in Sydney (Everest is 8848m) and the auto parking system is more of a guide which tells you how to park rather than doing it for you.
Imagine being 16 again and being coached by your mum or dad and you’ve got the idea.
That said the H9 handled life with my family without breaking a sweat. It’s easy to drive, with good visibility, great insulation from the outside world and excellent headlights (the Ultra gets the brighter 35-watt xenons).
So while it’s not the most adept and comfortable car on the road, I feel the H9 could be better suited to off-roading adventures. As I mentioned earlier, I only tested it’s on-road performance, but keep an eye out for any future off-road tests we do with the H9.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 8/10
When the Haval H9 was tested by ANCAP in 2015 it received a four-star rating from a possible five. In 2018 Haval updated the safety tech on board and all H9s now come standard with lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane changing assist, AEB and adaptive cruise control.
It’s great to see that this equipment has been added, although the H9 has not yet been re-tested and we’re yet to see how it would score with the updated tech.
Also coming standard are front and rear parking sensors.
For child seats you’ll find three top tether points and two ISOFIX mounts in the second row.
A full-sized alloy wheel is located under the car – as you can see in the images.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 7/10
The Haval H9 is covered by a seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended at six month/10,000km intervals.
HAVAL is a specialist manufacturer of premium SUVs and is the No.1 SUV brand in the world’s largest automotive market and has been for the past 15 years. In 2017 Brand Finance valued HAVAL as the "world's most powerful SUV brand" ahead of Jeep and Land Rover. With over 5 million customers, last year HAVAL was the world’s 10th largest SUV manufacturer outselling Mercedes, BMW and Mitsubishi SUVs. Our success is due to a combination of commitment, passion and listening to our customers. We utilise the best features, safety and technologies from around the globe to produce world class SUVs.
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