Johannesburg - Haval has launched its first Fortuner rival in South Africa.

The large, body-on-frame SUV, which was revealed to local media at the Festival of Motoring at Kyalami on Thursday, will be offered as a single derivative, the 2.0 4x4 Luxury, priced at R599 900.

However it enters the market with a distinct disadvantage in that it’s only available with petrol power. This comes in the form of a brawny 2-litre direct injection turbopetrol with 180kW and 350Nm on tap. It’s mated to a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox that can be operated via steering-mounted paddles.

Technically its nearest rival would be the 175kW Toyota Fortuner 4.0 V6 4x4, which costs almost R100 000 more than the Haval at R697 900.

However it’s the diesel models that customers really want in this segment and Haval is going to have a hard time luring customers away from options like the Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4x4 auto, at R641 700, the Ford Everest 3.2 4x4 auto, at R655 000 and Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport 2.4 4x4, which matches the Haval at R699 995.

Unlike these rivals, there is no option of a more affordable 4x2 model, but the 4x4 certainly has all the necessary bundu-bashing kit, including low-range and an electronic rear diff lock. Drivers can choose between six driving modes, namely: Auto, 4L, Sport, Sand, Snow, and Mud.

The H9 rides on independent double wishbone front suspension, while a multi-link rear axle does service at the back.

As far as standard features go, the H9 is a full-house affair, with three-row leather seating (electrically operated up front), three-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof, variable mood lighting and a 20.3cm touchscreen infotainment system with satnav all included in the deal.

Safety kit includes blind spot detection and line combination assist, radar-based reverse side warning, tyre pressure monitoring, Roll Movement Intervention and airbags all round.

The R599 999 price tag includes a five-year/100 000km warranty and five-year/60 000km service plan - although the average driver will be lucky to get three years out of that plan.

IOL Motoring