The 2021 Haval H6 SUV owes almost nothing to its predecessor, and whereas that last-generation car showed signs of moving close to some segment favourites, it still didn’t pose a significant threat to more popular models from Toyota, Mazda, Mitsubishi and the like.
With the new Haval H6, the relaunched GWM Haval group (formerly Great Wall Motors) takes a much more serious shot at meeting the segment head on. All the while, Haval has maintained its high-value positioning with enticing prices and high levels of standard equipment.
The range kicks off from $30,990 drive-away for the entry-level H6 Premium, $33,990 drive-away for the mid-spec H6 Lux you see here, and $36,990 drive-away for the top-spec H6 Ultra.
All variants share the same 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine producing 150kW and 320Nm, driving the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. In the case of the Ultra, all-wheel drive is also available as a $2000 option.
|2021 Haval H6 Lux|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol|
|Power and torque||150kW at 6000–6300rpm, 320Nm at 1500–4000rpm|
|Transmission||Seven-speed dual-clutch auto|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim, combined||7.4L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||10.1L/100km|
|Boot volume (rear seats up/down)||600L/1485L|
|ANCAP safety rating||Not tested|
|Warranty||Seven years, unlimited kilometres|
|Main competitors||Mazda CX-5, MG HS, Toyota RAV4|
|Price as tested||$34,485 drive-away (incl. metallic paint)|
Against the previous H6, the new model is rated 5kW and 5Nm higher, and steps up an extra gear for its dual-clutch auto.
On size, the new H6 runs up against cars like the Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 (see table further down for comparative specs). On price it beats the lot, especially as most don’t feature drive-away deals, and certainly at the entry level the engine outguns all bar the Escape (which is a 183kW outlier).
At a glance, the new model looks the goods, too, with a much more contemporary design than the model it replaces, plenty of exterior chrome highlights, full body-coloured bumpers, mirrors and door handles, and a very on-trend full-width LED light bar at the rear.
Those favourable impressions continue inside. In the case of the mid-spec Lux, there are dual 10.25-inch displays for instruments and infotainment, a high pass-through centre console, slick integrated air vents in the dash design and convincing leather-look seat trim.
Even from the base model, the H6 comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and push-button start, single-zone auto air-con with rear air vents, LED headlights and tail-lights, auto lights and wipers, cruise control, electric park brake and a rear-view camera and sensors.
Moving up to the Lux adds a powered driver’s seat, front seat heating, roof rails, a leather steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, one-touch windows on all doors (not just the driver's) plus remote open from the remote, privacy tint, adaptive cruise control, front park sensors and a 360-degree camera system.
The Ultra then adds a bigger still 12.3-inch infotainment screen, panoramic sunroof, powered passenger seat, front seat ventilation, heated steering wheel, wireless phone charging, a head-up display, eight-speaker audio (up from six), interior mood lighting, heated mirrors, and 19-inch wheels.
On the inside, the interior’s slick presentation translates to quite generous space. Haval really seems to have honed in on getting all the first impressions right. If you’re an interior prodder you’ll find soft-touch surfacing on most of the dash and door touchpoints, for instance.
The high centre console packs in plenty of space, both under the lidded armrest, or ahead of the rotary gear selector (which has a nicely hewn, hefty feel to it), but look underneath and you can see there are some hard plastics underneath.
That might be for the best, as you can stuff a laptop case or handbag under the centre console, so to keep it safe from buckles and zips, it should hold up okay. There’s USB-A charging on each side of the centre console, which is handy, though a little oddly the master USB for smartphone connection is on the passenger side, and not in easy reach of the driver.
On that, all models launch with Apple CarPlay, but Android Auto isn’t available initially. It’s expected to be rolled out at a later date. The car we tested didn’t seem to love CarPlay either, stuttering when Siri was invoked, and often struggling to hear driver commands clearly, though the Bluetooth microphone was fine in testing.
The native infotainment system includes AM/FM radio, but lacks digital radio or inbuilt navigation. There's a choice of two display options: Space Fold, which is a fairly typical-looking in-car display format, or The Foreign Space (who named these?), which is a trippy mix of stars and planets across the two displays, with animated spinning moons and information dispersed throughout.
Other than that, there’s little in the way of bad news to report. The seats are big and comfy, the driving position feels natural, the front footwells are roomy, and there are no surprises to the look or feel of most controls.
Drilling down a little, though, and the near buttonless interior has compromises. There are no climate-control shortcuts, for instance, just hard keys to turn the system or air-con itself off.
If you want to change temp, switch to recirculated air, or adjust seat heat you’ll need to jump to the menus. Depending on your starting point, this can be a two- or three-button journey before you get where you need to be.
There’s plenty of room on the widescreen display for a slim temp/mode slider on each side of the screen. The same goes for volume: it’s a pull-down menu from the top of the screen, there’s no physical control for the passenger, just the steering wheel button.
It is good to see a bright and clear pair of displays, but even in the dimmest setting the centre screen can be overwhelmingly bright. Same goes for the blind-spot warning lights, which light up like a beacon at night.
On the other hand, the LED headlights fell short of expectations, with the low-beam lights offering a short light path ahead of the car. Perhaps not detrimental in the city, but far from ideal out of town. High-beam performance was more up to code.
Outward visibility from the driver’s seat, while hardly awful, could also be a touch better. Thick pillars up front and the high tailgate glass close off visibility around the car a little.
There is a shortcut button for the 360-degree camera system and with clear, high-resolution images – even in low light – it’s a good system to use.
Rear seat occupants get their own charging and air vents, which are sure to be appreciated. There’s also quite a roomy rear seat with long leg room, tall head room, and a fixed-backrest rear seat that doesn’t fall short on comfort.
Behind the second row, the H6 offers 600L of boot space, or with the 60:40 back seat folded up to 1485L. There’s a space-saver spare under the boot floor, and although not a dedicated lined storage space, you could easily fit in any extra odds and ends and keep them hidden from view under the floor.
Hit the road and the new H6 feels a lot like so many of the medium SUVs it competes with, which is actually good news. There’s no laggy long-travel accelerator, no wooden or notchy brake feel, and consistently weighted steering. None of those are particular highlights or standouts among competitors, but nor are they lowlights.
There are some hints of hesitation when starting off from a standstill. The transmission will either feed power in cautiously or drop everything in at once, which means acceleration is either a little underwhelming or too frenetic and results in spinning front wheels.
The fitted Hankook tyres aren’t too grippy in the wet either, which tends to exaggerate the slippage problem from a standstill. Although all-wheel drive is available on the top-spec H6 Ultra, the better, simpler fix might simply be a better tyre.
Once it's on the go, the automatic works just fine. It changes gears smoothly and quickly – though perhaps not quite as immediate as some Volkswagen dual-clutch autos can be. It also needs a bit of a prod to kick down and really give its all if you need to overtake – or you can opt for the paddle shifters if you prefer, though these tend to have a small delay before responding.
Drive modes for Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow, plus separate Light, Mid and Sport weight settings for the steering, are available if you'd like to tailor the drive, but Normal/Mid works just fine in most conditions.
Adaptive cruise control is very good at handling changing traffic, and much smoother than something like Mazda’s system. It can smoothly brake to a stop when required and starts off again without jerkiness or notchiness.
On the other hand, the system overcompensates for sweeping curves in the road, often slowing abruptly when it doesn’t need to. Not always a reassuring feeling.
The ride is pliant over rough sections of tarmac, and never too stiff nor too bouncy. The front end can knock lightly on some bumps, and although it’s absorbent, it can also feel a little crashy or slow to recover over some hits. Again, not deplorable – Haval has made a solid effort here and it is very good, just not great.
Overall, the H6 is comfy, easy to live with, and largely quiet for cruising around in, be that a quick dash across town or a longer-distance drive on the open road.
The list of safety spec looks pretty good, too, with seven airbags (including one between the front seats), autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian, cyclist and intersection support, blind-spot monitoring with lane-change assist, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, driver fatigue detection, traffic sign recognition and plenty more – and that’s just the base model.
|2021 Haval H6 Premium||2021 Toyota RAV4 GX||2021 Mazda CX-5 Maxx||2021 Honda CR-V Vi||2021 Ford Escape (base)|
|Length / width / height||4653 / 1886 / 1724mm||4600 / 1855 / 1685mm||4550 / 1840 / 1675mm||4635 / 1855 / 1679mm||4614 / 1883 / 1678mm|
|Tow rating||2000kg braked||800kg||1800kg||1500kg||1800kg|
|Engine||2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol||2.0-litre 4-cyl petrol||2.0-litre 4-cyl petrol||2.0-litre 4-cyl petrol||2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol|
|Power / torque||150kW / 320Nm||127kW / 203Nm||115kW / 200Nm||113kW / 189Nm||183kW / 387Nm|
|Transmission||7-speed dual-clutch auto||CVT auto||6-speed auto||CVT auto||8-speed auto|
|Fuel consumption, claimed||7.4L/100km||6.5L/100km||6.9L/100km||7.6L/100km||8.6L/100km|
|Base price (auto)||$30,990 drive-away||$34,695 plus on-road costs||$33,190 plus on-road costs||$31,100 plus on-road costs||$35,990 plus on-road costs|
The safety systems seem to work pretty well. We didn’t catch any false alarms, and apart from the previously mentioned adaptive cruise-control cornering slowdown, everything appeared to work as intended.
Unlike some driver assist systems, Haval allows owners to set preferences for how the system operates and intervenes. For instance, the lane centring felt a bit much for me at first, so I set it to lane-departure intervention and enjoyed the drive much more. Most settings have a three-stage range of adjustment.
At the time of writing, ANCAP hadn’t assessed the H6, so the safety rating is unknown. The tech is there, but the crash test results aren’t – yet.
Haval’s warranty covers seven years/unlimited kilometres, making it one of the most competitive in the industry. Servicing is set at 12-month intervals, with 10,000km to the first service, then 15,000km intervals after that, with capped price servicing set at $210, $280, $380, $480 and $210 respectively for the first five services, or a respectable $1560 all-up.
Fuel consumption is rated at 7.4 litres per 100km for 2WD models or 8.3L/100km with AWD. The FWD car tested here returned 10.1L/100km, which despite being higher than suggested still holds up, and only requires 91RON regular unleaded not premium.
Alarmingly, in peak traffic the trip meter showed anywhere from 15–20L/100km depending on conditions, but we’ll investigate this further when we get the car through for a stint in the garage.
All up, the H6 doesn’t set any new dynamic benchmarks. For its price and positioning it doesn’t need to either. It’s simply light and easy to drive about without requiring any undue effort from the driver.
The interior impresses with its plushness and presentation. Seating space is a strong suit, but for ultimate practicality, a few more short-cut controls for the air-con and maybe a volume knob would come in handy.
It’s the final blush of electronics tuning that really makes the difference. The H6 makes a solid case, but too-bright screens and blind-spot warnings, and a lack of easy-access controls, dull the Haval’s shine (pardon the pun).
It’s not that Haval hasn’t been listening to consumer feedback, though. Older Haval cars chimed a warning for everything from adjusting the drive mode and cruise control to accelerating too briskly. Those unnecessary annoyances have all been done away this time around.
Value is still key to the brand, and it shows. The $33,990 drive-away mid-spec H6 Lux seen here starts to make the equipment list of the base-model Outlander, X-Trail, RAV4 and others look rather slim for a similar on-the-road spend.