HAVAL H9 – AUTOCAR NZ REVIEW
4X4 X VALUE
WE WERE SURPRISED BY HAVAL’S H6 LAST MONTH BUT THE VALUE OF THE COMPANY’S H9 IS EVEN MORE IMPRESSIVE WHEN CONSIDERING THE COMPETITION. IT’S KEEN IF YOU’RE WILLING.
Those looking for a large SUV have two choices; a big, car-like wagon along the lines of a Mazda CX-9 or Toyota Highlander, or a proper 4x4 with a full chassis. That latter category you can distill further with ute-based wagons like the Fortuner or Trailblazer, while the likes of your Cruisers sit on their own chassis and utilise more competent four-wheel drive gubbins. This tends to make them more refined, but also expensive. Into this mix you can include the HAVAL H9, and although not quite in the same league as the Cruiser, it’s certainly far more attainable. This is a full size, body-on-frame 4x4 with a low range transfer case and seats for seven. But where as a Prado costs between $70k and $90k, HAVAL is keeping its value for money promise with the H9, starting from just $43,990 for the Lux model while the Ultra is $47,990. It’s also more refined and feature laden than the still-more-expensive ute-based alternatives. The key takeaway is to remember that price tag when driving the HAVAL. It’s simply a lot of truck for the money, and its value helps you gloss over some of its idiosyncrasies. The first of these is what’s under the bonnet. While most in the body-on-frame 4x4 class utilise the pulling efficiency of a diesel, the H9 is only available with a 2.0-litre turbopetrol. That sees it with 180kW, topping most of its diesel-burning rivals but with 350Nm of torque, it’s down on pull. As such it’s about as quick in a straight line as the biturbo Ford Everest. The H9 uses a ZF-supplied eight-speed auto, the extra cogs helping shoulder the burden.
“HAVAL is keeping its value for money promise”
This is a fairly easy-going powertrain. The torque is streaming properly from 1800rpm and remains a constant through to 4500rpm. The power peaks at 5500rpm, though the auto often changes around 5000rpm, by which point the engine feels pretty much done anyhow. While not a revver, it’s certainly adequate for duty here. Only when you are in a real hurry do you notice any real lag off the mark, but for the majority of your commuting work this turbo-petrol does fine.
The auto is programmed for maximum smoothness, so again, when you’re in a hurry, it can take a moment to kick down. There is a Sport driving mode but it’s accessed via the same rotary dial for the 4x4 hardware, and placed just out of easy reach on the console. It would be preferable if you could just whack the gear lever back into an S mode, but doing so activates a not-so-helpful manual mode instead.
The H9 has a good helping of full chassis wriggle to its proceedings but is good at blotting the bumps. Its steering is well assisted and with three turns lock-to-lock, it isn’t too cumbersome in traffic and has a decent turning circle. As for fuel use, it’s rated at 10.9L/100km, but factor on 13.5L/100km as a more realistic average around the city, or 11s if you do more easy motorway miles.
The styling is fairly generic but done right for this sort of machine with lots of wheel arch air and masses of metal. The H9 impresses when you first climb aboard. It even smells a bit premium and the ‘leather’ is soft to the touch, as are most of the surfaces, the build quality sound. The infotainment system and the screen itself are in need of an update; apparently CarPlay and AA are on the way later in the year. The seats are comfort plus, and feature heating, ventilation and a massage function.
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.
*HAVAL Motors Australia reserves the right to change the information including, but not limited to the models, prices, colors, materials, equipment or other specifications referred to on this site at any time without prior notice. Always consult your HAVAL dealer for latest specifications, availability and pricing. Images for illustration purposes only.
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