Recently, we joined Haval South Africa for the last leg of the Haval Outreach Expedition from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town, where we had the chance to experience the recently launched 7-seater H9 SUV. During our journey we also had the chance to sample Haval’s smaller SUV’s, the H6C and H2. Here’s what we thought…
Before we hopped in, the convoy of Havals had spent the previous few days travelling from Johannesburg towards the windy city with OEMs and journalists. From Port Elizabeth we joined the six Haval vehicles and embarked on a road trip that gave us the chance to experience the Haval range quite extensively!
Some tough roads and challenging weather made the experience come to life as we really got to put the vehicles through their paces. Our most memorable day involved some pretty advanced 4x4ing with the H9s in the dunes at Brakkeduine. The idea of charging up a large (and very soft) sand dune in a massive, brand-new, 7-seater SUV, without getting stuck can be a tad intimidating to say the least, especially with everyone watching! But with a bit of confidence and some guidance from our group leader, I loved the sense of empowerment that came from it all. The H9’s off road system also makes it an easier task!
Driving the Haval H9…
To put things into perspective: Haval is the professional SUV division of GWM. It arrived at local shored in the first half of 2017, known as China’s best-selling SUV. Now, joining the South African range of its two-wheel drive small SUV derivatives (the H1, H2 and H6), the large 7-seater H9 is powered by a 180 kW 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine (also found in the H6C).
As the biggest offering from Haval, the H9 competes with the likes of the Toyota Fortuner and the Ford Everest, but it is also mildly compared to the Toyota Prado, when one considers just how much premium spec is offered as standard.
Apart from the H9’s massive body size and rugged personality, its exterior also presents a number of subtle, yet luxurious, features such as xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights and useful sidesteps, to name a few. But it is inside the H9 that really impresses, with an array of luxury specification that make it easy to mistake its cabin for other premium models.
The engine in the H9 is a 2-litre turbo petrol engine that offers 180 kW of power and 350 N.m of torque and is paired with an 8-speed ZF gearbox with paddle shifters. The absence of a diesel engine might turn a few South African buyers away, unless you’re willing to appreciate the environmental factors associated with it. All H9s are four-wheel-drive, and are incredibly easy to venture off the beaten track with – we can attest to this after our 8-day adventure with Haval where we experienced the H9 on various terrains and environments. Hill climbs are easy, while rough terrains are barely noticeable in the H9 thanks to double wishbone suspension that makes driving the H9 extremely comfortable and capable.
All terrains, no strains…
The Haval H9 comes with a variety of driving modes to suit South Africa’s diverse terrains.
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The driver can select the most appropriate real-time road mode from 6 options (AUTO, 4L, Sport, Sand, Snow, and Mud) via the multi-functional display knob on the secondary instrument panel so that the system can automatically control the driving and braking force to achieve the best performances.
- AUTO mode: Optimises distribution of torque to all wheels for easy driving on tar and dirt roads.
- Sport mode: Drivers preferring more control for spirited driving along twisty mountain passes or challenging country roads have the choice of sportier gear changes. In sport mode, the Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) reduces system interference and improves the driving experience.
- 4L mode: For off-road driving, including extreme conditions, this setting amplifies torque delivery to the wheel(s) with the best grip, maximising performance to escape from sticky conditions.
- Mud mode: Yet again this setting allows adjustment of the ESP to improve road holding on muddy surfaces, allowing a certain amount of slip.
- Sand mode: The transmission’s electronic stability control is adapted to maximise torque to the driving wheels with the most grip to help prevent the vehicle from getting bogged down.
- Snow (wet) mode: In wet weather, the ESP is controlled to improve road holding by avoiding over- and under-steer to assist driving stability.
4 things we love about the Haval H9
BIGGER AND BETTER
If you’re in the market for a large SUV, perhaps you’re a growing family that enjoys a variety of holiday adventures, the H9 is certainly a big and bold SUV to consider. It’s also as tough as it looks and because it is so unpretentious, you’re more likely to travel to places without worrying about a scratch or too!
EASY OFF ROADING
I must be honest, some of the off roading obstacles that we tackled were among the most intimidating in my career, and the H9 had no trouble getting us through the experience with a big pat on its back at the end of it. Haval did a good job at showing us just how much the H9 can handle, with ease and thanks to its sophisticated 4×4 system, even the most inexperienced off roader might build a bit of confidence.
COMFORTABLE AND SAFE
The Haval H9 has a body-on-frame design with a high-strength frame for outstanding rigidity in strenuous conditions.
Under the skin, side-impact collision bars, front and back crumple zones and an energy-absorbing steering column protect the occupants in the event of a collision.
Active safety features include all-round “all-directional” airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners, ISO-FIX child seat anchors, a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and driver status detection system, all guaranteeing the safety for the vehicle occupants.
Electronic driver aids include ABS, BA (brake assist) and ESP, HAC (Hill-start Assist Control), RMI (Roll Movement Intervention) and HAC (Hill-start Assist Control) as well as CTA (Cross-traffic alert) and LCA (Lane-change Alert).
As I mentioned, pricing for the H9 is going to appeal to a wide range of potential customers looking for an affordable, yet highly specced large SUV.
The new model is available as the H9 2.0 Petrol 4WD Luxury and is priced at R 599 900,00
The H9 has a 5-year/100 000km warranty, a 5-year/60 000km service plan, and 5-year/unlimited km roadside assistance.
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Although it involved a lot of time away from home and out of office, the Haval Outreach Expedition was a great opportunity to really get to know the Haval range. Of course, the H9 was the centre of attention as it is the most recently launched (and largest) SUV, but I’m also looking forward to getting to drive the H2 again – a compact SUV that I think will suit those who spend most of their time in the city, but who also enjoy the occasional trip up the coast.
We look forward to seeing what next year’s expedition will involve, as well as some more time spent with the new Haval H9.