Yeah, I'll tell anyone who listens that the Chinese auto brands are on the rise, and fast too. Take this new Chinese-built Haval H6 C, to me it's a sign that manufacturers in the Far East are reaching that point that needs to be crossed before people will consider the brand worthy of consideration. The Korean brands took a while to get there yet they now have models regarded as class and segment leaders. This Haval H6 C comes from Chinese automaker GWM and I reckon it's got the goods to get the right attention, and more importantly, convince buyers to at least take a genuine look at the offerings before making a purchase. The other day I was in the Haval H2 and if you read that post you'll know I was mighty impressed with how good it is, but this H6 C is even better - in every way. The spec I rocked for a week wasn't the top spec model, so a few things were missing like leather seats, a sunroof and some functionality on the driver information screen in the centre of the instrument cluster but they honestly weren't missed. The thing is, even with all the bells & whistles present, the Haval H6 C still comes in at a healthy chunk under R400k. Yeah, I know many will rather look for a second hand (insert German/Japanese brand here) but there are equally as many who want to own a brand new car, and this is for them.
The feature list for the Haval H6 C is good, this Chinese SUV can be had with things like a panoramic sunroof with an electric sun blind, a blind spot monitoring system, hill-descent control, a few drive modes, front and rear park assist with rear-view camera and kerb side camera, mood lighting for the cabin, a tyre pressure monitoring system, dual zone climate control, electronically adjustable heated front seats, electric foldable side mirrors, anti-glare rear-view mirror and an 8-inch head unit that's home to the infotainment system (that can have an optional subwoofer added). There's steering-mounted controls to help you navigate the driver information screen and the infotainment system without taking your eyes off the road, and added to the safety there's ESP, Collision Fuel System Shut Off, daytime running lights and a full array of front and side impact airbags - this SUV quickly dispels thoughts that Chinese cars may be unsafe. There's actually plenty kit in the H6 C, more than the pricing suggests, which is what may end up making people take that closer look I mentioned.
So how do the various things operate? Pretty damn good I reckon. Everything in the cabin is bolted together properly and so there were no squeaks or rattles anywhere. I mean sure, the car was new with less than 5000km on the odo, but if nothing made a noise over some deeply rutted and corrugated roads at 80km/h, then things bode well for when the SUV has the mileage racked up. The function buttons for the various controls are also devoid of that cheap feel that you may expect, there's adequate resistance so you know you've actually used / pressed / switched something. The infotainment system is good, but it is probably the only place that the H6 C has a clear divide from the competition. It does have all the stuff you need though, but if I could nitpick I'd still want a better all-round system more akin to what the rivals offer. That said, I don't see it taking too long for Haval to get this part of the build on par with the competition.
Still, in the cabin you'll find comfortable seats both up front and in the rear. This model I drove had cloth seats, but you can option the SUV with leather if that's your thing. The front seats are comfortable enough to see you through long trips without an aching back creeping up, and they can be had in 6-way or 8-way power adjusting guise. The rear seats are, well, rear seats and are as comfortable as rear seats can be. The best part of the Haval H6 C interior is the space - there's sooooo much! I'm not tall but I can easily have a 6ft+ mate sit behind me and still have space to stretch out. Boot space is great, a set of luggage will fit, as will all the gear needed by those with an active lifestyle. The rear seats can fold flat to expand the space, but then you're probably using the H6 C to help a mate move house.
With great exterior looks, a good cabin and a healthy feature list, it comes down to the drive. This is where the Haval H6 C does rather well. All three trim levels (City, Premuim and Luxury) all share the same powerplant and drivetrain, while the 6-speed transmission can be had in both manual and auto (the latter has a dual clutch setup). Drive is to the front wheels only, but the internationally available all-wheel drive version can be arranged by special order. The model I drove featured the manual transmission and as with the drive in the H2, I was more impressed than I thought I'd be. The clutch action is light and easy and the gears slot into place with the same feel and purpose you'd find in any of the German rivals - Getrag gearbox FTW. The ratios are set up great too, the engine's power delivery vs throttle input is as good as it gets which means no unnecessary cog-swapping leaving you to enjoy the drive more.
All three trim levels also share the same powerplant, and it's pretty damn decent. A turbocharged 2.0 with direct injection does duty and it's rated at 140kW with 310Nm of torque, which is great power in anyone's books. The engine is quiet and smooth and it does feature a bit of turbo lag, but not enough for it to be a problem, more like just enough to that you can feel good and well when the boost comes in - not a bad thing for me. The Haval H6 C isn't small but the power delivery, the light steering and the surprisingly good dynamic handling combine to fool you into thinking the SUV is smaller than it is. Performance figures show the SUV can hit 100km/h in 9-seconds, and is billed to use just 9.8-litres/100km of liquidised dead dinosaur, although during my week the best figure seen was 12.0-litres/100km. If there was a way to get that figure in the low 9s or high 8s there'd be little to fault the thing on.
Overall we're looking at an SUV that's got some great looks, seating for five nightclub-in-the-North-sized bouncers, a good interior fit and finish, a healthy spec list, good safety and a great engine/transmission combination all for under R400 000. In the mid-sized SUV segment there's plenty competition but all the models from various rivals that fall into the same price range come up short on included spec and features, which is a huge plus point for Haval. I enjoyed every drive in the Haval H6 C, the only faults that warrant mention would be the heavier than claimed fuel consumption and an infotainment system that feels like it's a couple of years behind what others offer these days. One enthusiastic standstill start saw the Haval H6C leave an unsuspecting Toyota 86 a hard time, I laughed. A lot.
Would I have one? Yeah, I actually would. For the things I get up to for work and play these days, it's a really good option if a new car purchase was needed. As mentioned, before buying in this segment, be it new or used, you really need to have a closer look at the Haval H6 C. You will be doing yourself and your bank account a serious disservice if you don't.
Haval H6 C 6MT City R329,900
Haval H6 C 6MT Premium R339,900
Haval H6 C 6MT Luxury R359,900
Haval H6 C 6AT City R359,900
Haval H6 C 6AT Premium R369,900
Haval H6 C 6AT Luxury R389,990
The Haval H6 C comes standard with a 5-year / 100 000km warranty and a roadside assist package.