Our adventure in Mpumalanga for the 2019 Haval Outreach Expedition…
As part of Haval South Africa’s second Outreach Expedition, we recently joined the brand in Mpumalanga for an intimate driving experience where we journeyed to some of the province’s most iconic and panoramic destinations over five days. Our convoy was powered by some of Haval’s luxury SUV models, namely its flagship 7-seater H9, the H6C, the newly released luxury derivative H6, as well as the GWM Steed bakkie.
While all vehicles impressed over the adventurous, scenic driving routes that Haval had strategically mapped out, standout qualities for each model differ somewhat. In the large H9, generous space and comfort (even for adults in the third row) still win me over while its AWD system lends a hand to excellent drivability over tricky mountain passes, despite it being such a large vehicle. The list of standard spec in this Luxury model is ridiculously impressive, especially when it comes to its premium interior. You’ll find everything from electrically adjustable seating (for driver and passenger), heated seating, massage seats – also for driver AND passenger, touchscreen infotainment, exciting off-road technology that makes venturing off the beaten track a breeze (even if you’re a novice), safety systems and features for days, oodles of storage space, three-zone aircon control for driver, passenger AND back passengers….I could go on, but we would be here all day. What’s important to know is that this all comes in at a bang-for-buck price of R599 900.
The mid-size H6C -a strong performer in terms of sales – with its lively and punchy engine offers sporty driving dynamics and grips to the road effortlessly. Its cabin is a happy place to be, with loads of driver-friendly qualities, soft-touch finishes and comfort features that make long distance driving an enjoyable experience. It’s also super roomy (even if you’ve just hopped out of the bigger H9). But it is the H6C’s drive-quality and road handling that I really enjoy. I felt confident behind the wheel and at higher speeds, while overtaking slow-moving vehicles felt completely effortless – I also really enjoyed the 6-speed DCT gearbox which was super responsive!
The new H6Luxury derivative (which is yet to be officially launched here in SA) is powered by a 1.5 turbo-petrol engine and offers a snazzy interior with red stitching and a generously sized boot. among other specification enhancements.
The GWM Steed support bakkie, albeit a bit of a misfit in the group, championed the group’s camera crew, beverages, medical kits and branding items throughout the entire journey. I wasn’t entirely enthused when it was my turn to get behind the wheel of the Steed – I was quite enjoying all the luxury of Haval’s SUVs and the idea of having to keep up with all of them over steep inclines and tricky and twisty mountain passes in a bakkie loaded with kit was as desirable as being chased up a mountain by an angry Porsche Cayenne driver – but like a solid workhorse, the Steed 5 became noticeably more comfortable and enjoyable the more I drove it, and by the end of my drive with it I’d become quite attached to it.
This year’s Outreach Expedition took us to some of the most picturesque settings our country has to offer. Between all the test driving and motoring chit-chat, we were able to visit some truly incredible places along the Mpumalanga’s Panorama Route. From climbing the steps to ‘God’s Window’ in Graskop, to seeing hippos up close for the first time (for some of us, that is) in Sabie, Pinnacle Rock, Lisban Falls, jumping off a 70-meter cliff, Haval did a good job at associating its brand with some special, epic memories.