THINK of the HAVAL H6 as the new kid on the block when it comes to luxury sports SUVs. The Chinese brand launched here in 2016 with four SUVs in its range, including a smaller and two larger models – with the H6 already the most popular amongst them.
Because the brand is a new player in a brutal SUV game, we had a healthy level of scepticism around the build quality, interior quality, comfort and technology in the H6. Was it up to the task against rivals like Mazda, Toyota and Nissan?
Well, we’re pleased to say, some of our scepticism has been knocked on its head. The technology in this car is quite good. It has a big 7-inch touch screen for entertainment and lots of buttons to press, complete with dings each time you change something (you can’t turn that off). It also has lane change warning (you need to activate that one every time you get in the car).
The cruise control system is quite good too, and allows you to set the speed to the exact limit which you can then adjust up or down in one kilometre increments. All the buttons on the dash and console are clearly labelled so finding the right setting is quite easy.
The steering wheel controls however are a little small and tightly packed, with much smaller and lighter fonts. It’s a little hard to work out what is what without your glasses (if you need them for reading that is). The reversing camera and parking sensors are good too.
Automatic headlights and wipers are standard on this car, as well as heated and auto folding mirrors and bright red HAVAL laser puddle lights (which in an odd way are kind of cool). The HAVAL scuff plates under each door also light up when the doors are opened.
There is even a tyre monitoring system that will let you know the tyre pressure as well as the temperature in each tyre (economical advantages aside, this is an excellent safety feature).
All-in-all there is enough to keep most people happy with the gadgetry and technology in the car and most definitely enough for those who don’t want to have to have lessons on “How to change the song on the CD”. That said, as a luxury SUV or at least a car that is taking on that market, I would have expected a SatNav system, but alas there was none.
On the flip side, the dual zone air conditioning is good, with vents in the back for rear passengers making it a very comfortable place to be. For those who like a leather interior you may find it feels cheap (it’s not real leather), and compared to rivals, it lacks that soft and buttery feel.
That said, the seats are very comfortable with great, adjustable lumbar support. The front seats are fully electric and heated. The rear seats are also heated and will also tilt back for added comfort. Air conditioned seats would be an advantage.
There is also great visibility from the driver’s seat and the rear has great head and leg room for two adults with a child in the middle. The middle position in the rear is a little less comfortable for a fully grown human, not unlike most vehicles on the market. The interior is available in three colours; Brown, Black and Grey.
The luggage area is a good size and will suit a family well. There is heaps of room for a large family shop or to take the family away for the weekend, as well as the family dog. The rear seats are 60/40 split and will fold almost flat providing plenty of room for larger loads if needed.
Outside, the exterior finish on the car is quite good. The sun roof is ridiculously huge and works very well. It takes up the whole roof and opens over the driver and passenger, with fixed glass for the rear passengers.
There is also an electric cover that rolls ALL the way back giving rear passengers a great view of the sky. Alloy wheels and tinted windows make the vehicle look smart, and from certain angles this car bears striking resemblance to a Range Rover Evoque.
It is however a 4×2 front-wheel-drive SUV, which kind of defeats the purpose of a Sports Utility Vehicle (no off-road capabilities), but we get the popularity of these cars, and the market segment they are chasing (who mostly don’t want to go off-road).
Despite the 2-litre turbo engine, which pushes out 145kW of power and 315Nm of torque, the HAVAL H6 LUX is not as responsive as you would expect, with significant turbo lag, particularly in Eco mode. It’s rough on take off in traffic too.
Wack it into Sports mode though and things improve decidedly, with a smooth and comfortable ride at speed. The suspension comes into its own at pace too and offers great handling. At 100km/h you don’t notice the engine at all with the radio on, and in complete silence the engine noise is virtually nothing.
Road noise too is minimal thanks to the large 19-inch alloys and good tyres. The six speed Getrag gearbox is smooth too, and only let down by the laggy turbo. The paddle shifters are tight and small to access and one wonders if they are really necessary.
Visibility is good everywhere except the small rear window (a standard non-feature across most sports SUVs that fit this model size), but the huge side mirrors make up for it. Steering is lacking in feel and feedback but it’s something that you get used to. It does have a pretty good turning circle though and shopping centre car parks are pretty easy to navigate in this vehicle.
Let’s face it, as a 4×2 SUV, the HAVAL H6 LUX ticks the boxes, it’s a great family car, it’s reasonably economical based on HAVAL’s claimed 8.8l/100km (we could only manage 12.9l/100km but we were stuck in plenty of traffic), and its spacious. Does it answer the question of matching its main competitors in the Mazda CX5 or the much loved Toyota Rav4 though?
It’s definitely cheaper than its rivals (at $33,990 drive away), and it comes close to it on all points except one – the turbo lag. Would we own one, tough call, but probably not. The brand and the model needs to mature first, but sales are already good, so price and features are obviously attractive for a growing group of buyers.
The HAVAL H6 LUX we tested came in Bronze, but you can also get yours in Ebony, Atlantic Blue, Monza (red), Titanium, Sleek Silver and Pure White.
Our road test vehicle was provided by HAVAL. To find out more about the 2017 HAVAL H6 LUX, contact your local HAVAL dealer.