Haval, one of a growing number of popular Chinese brands trying its luck in the hyper-competitive Australian market, has whipped the covers from a new model called the F5.
The reveal took place today at the Beijing motor show, which is now one of the biggest worldwide in terms of attendees, and in terms of the number world premieres from domestic and better-known international marques alike. The times, they are a-changing.
We’re more familiar with Haval’s ‘H’ range of crossovers (H2, H6, H9 etc), but the ‘F’ series is designed to complement them by chasing a younger buyer, a bit like the way BMW markets the X1 and X2, or X3 and X4.
It’s a sharp-looking little crossover that the company believes melds Eastern and Western thought, and will lure people born in the 1990s.
As we’ve reported previously, the company also showed the new H4 crossover on its 1220 square-metre stand, a car that appears very similar to the F5. It shares the same interior design, for one.
Inside, there’s a 12.0-inch main display, matched to a large driver display behind the steering wheel. Safety kit includes a 360-degree camera system, lane-departure warning, lane-change assist, tyre-pressure monitoring and parking sensors at the front and rear.
The other major product was an updated H6, which has previously been China’s top-selling SUV (more than 500,000 annually). We have the previous version in Australia.
This MY18 upgrade gets revised styling, a rejigged cabin reminiscent of a Peugeot 3008 in some ways (and massive in the back seats for the class, fitting my 194cm frame easily), and a range of active safety tech.
Finally, Haval showed a new engine and gearbox, both developed entirely in house by its engineering team based in Baoding – though the company has now opened R&D centres in Japan, Germany, India, the US, South Korea and Austria.
The 1.5 turbo petrol unit makes 124kW of power at 5000rpm, and a fairly substantial 285Nm of torque between 1400rpm and 3000rpm. Haval claims to have taken out 92 patents on this CVVL engine, used 1000 test cars and racked-up 7.5 million km in testing. Fuel use is a claimed 6.8L/100km.
For context, the 1.5-litre turbo in the Honda CR-V makes 140kW/240Nm, and uses 7L/100km.
The Haval engine is matched to a new seven-speed DCT (wet clutch) replacing its old Getrag ‘box, which Haval’s execs boldly claim is better than rivals’.
Here’s the catch: none of these cars are being made right-hand drive for Haval’s export markets like Australia and South Africa. Instead, we’re going to get cars based on the company’s new modular platform from early 2020, with the company intending to offer SUVs in the Small, Medium and Light segments.
"F5 is a new brand series but still on an existing platform. What we are excited about [for Australia] is the next-generation model," the company's global product planning VP told us today.
"We have to consider LHD, with China our main market, but we promise to have 2-3 models [in RHD], with product presence in each of the key SUV segments globally: small, medium and large."
One thing is for sure: if the company wants to actually make headway and sell more than a small number of cars in Australia, it needs to offer our market its very latest and greatest, even if RHD isn't a volume-driver.
Based on our look around at the Beijing show this week, this new product is extremely competitive in terms of build quality and design, and promises a lot from an engineering perspective. The 2019/20 stuff should be better, still. Rome wasn’t built in a day…
Tell us what you think, below, in the comments. There are more shots in the Photos tab.
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