Driven: New Haval H2 is a good value package
Cape Town - From small beginnings when they arrived in South Africa in 2017, Haval have inched their way into the market with well-priced and well-specced vehicles topping out at having sold 1 024 last October alone, many of them the H2.
It’s their best seller by far and with average sales reaching 400 units a month look set to continue this trend with the launch of the facelifted H2 last week. Owned by Great Wall Motors (GWM), Haval have led the way with the Chinese invasion proving that you don’t have to be (relatively) cheap and nasty to provide value.
In a highly contested segment, Haval have the likes of Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Peugeot and VW to contend with, so the timing of the facelift couldn’t be better going into the new year.
The outside receives a nip and tuck with hexagonal grille, arrow-shaped LED lights, 18-inch alloy wheels, new rear LED lights as well as new front and rear bumpers. Giving it a slightly more aggressive look from the back, the diffuser has increased in size as have the twin exhaust pipes.
It’s not a head-turner but compared to some other Chinese manufacturers it’s pleasantly subtle and there’s nothing over-the-top or eye-jarring.
The inside of the H2 has been one of the better cabins in the segment and even at closer inspection the finishes are top notch. There’s plush leather, cloth-covered pillars and a general feel of premium quality. The infotainment system could be a bit more modern but it’s easy to use and features Apple CarPlay but strangely not Android Auto.
The cockpit is laid out well and equipped with enough space for all your odds and ends, boasting keyless start and entry as well as a reverse camera.
The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable and in the Luxury versions the sunroof has been replaced with a panoramic roof.
Sitting behind the wheel at the launch in the Overberg District in the Western Cape last week, the driving position initially felt a bit high even with the seat as low as it could go, but once the steering wheel had been adjusted, I found it to be comfortable and unobtrusive.
Our route took us towards Gordon’s Bay on the lovely twisty road past Pringle Bay and Hangklip in a howling wind and bucketing unseasonal rain.
My first drive was with the six-speed manual and giving it a bit of stick the H2 held firm with little body roll and good road holding and I found the seats to be very comfortable, hugging my contours easily even during hard cornering. Steering was positive without the marshmallow feel often found in Chinese vehicles.
Under the bonnet nothing changes with the same 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine producing 105kW and 202Nm of torque. Impressive enough on paper but it does require a heavy right foot because of the weight of the car to get it up to speed and while both the manual and six-speed automatic transmissions are smooth and well-geared the opposition boxes are more dynamic and sophisticated.
When I tested the previous version I mentioned that consumption was on the high side. Our route was mostly long stretches providing figures of 8.6L/100km for the manual and 8.8L/100km for the auto. Not exactly frugal but the cars did have less than 500km on them, which could be part of the explanation.
The automatic would probably be the more popular choice in heavily congested areas but at R34 100 more than the manual, I wouldn’t be able to justify the difference and you can buy a lot of petrol for that.
Safety-wise the H2 scores five stars in the ANCAP safety rating. It comes with six airbags, ABS, EBD, brake assist, stability control, a tyre pressure monitor system and a fuel cut-off system if you’re in an accident.
Overall the H2 is a very good value proposition that provides a long list of standard features put together in a premium package and in a tightly contested segment it’s easy to see why they are so popular.
With Haval looking to expand their footprint to 60 dealers by the end of the year and a R100 million spares warehouse the company is set to provide peace of mind to customers as well.
The Haval H2 comes with a fiveyear or 100 000km warranty, fiveyear/60 000km service plan, and roadside assistance for up to five years.
H2 City 6-speed manual - R269 900
H2 Luxury 6-speed manual - R294 900
H2 City 6-speed automatic - R304 900
H2 Luxury 6-speed automatic - R329 900