With everyone now driving SUV’s, the little hatchback was no longer any good around town. It was difficult when trying to see around the SUVs to back out of a car park or down the street to see if the intersection is clear.
After looking around the market with the price range of around $25,000, I searched for what bang could I get for my buck. The "musts" were a reverse camera with sensors, and alloy wheels.
With the run out deals happening, the Haval met almost all the boxes. The test drive confirmed that it was big enough, and even with a 1.5-litre turbo there was enough poke to get me around.
With European styling, Swedish safety tech and a range of big name supplier parts, it was definitely a looker and just as safe as some of the competitors.
The colour range was fantastic. All colours were rich and inviting, and the dual colours with a contrast roof were well worth the additional cost.
While I was looking at the Premium variant with discounts, the extra thousand was well spent on the LUX to get puddle lamps, leather interior, active headrests, auto-fold mirrors and the better speakers.
While the centre dash screen doesn’t have a digital speedo, the dials are more than adequate to read while driving. The large touchscreen entertainment system, while lacking Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, links quickly and effortlessly with Bluetooth and can still use Spotify and other streaming apps via the steering wheel controls.
There are multiple options for connecting, and there are various 12-volt plugs throughout the car.
The sunroof has four different positions and is extremely large. The LUX has electric front seats that are quick and responsive. The leather is high quality for Eco leather and the seats are extremely well-bolstered.
The backup camera is extremely clear and works very well with the dynamic lines and the reverse sensors.
Keyless entry and start is available across all models and works well and from a decent range. The two-press to turn the vehicle off is a bit of a niggle but you do get used to it.
Electronic handbrake and auto hold is very fast, if a little noisy, but you expect to hear something just to know it’s working.
The 1.5-litre turbo is very responsive to the pedal and is combined with an automatic transmission which is extremely smooth. Once it has learnt your driving style, it is not noticeable at all. From driving around town and through car parks to going down the M1, all driving situations require no effort. While it's not a rocket, it can still keep up and merge nicely from the on-ramp.
For someone who drives around by themselves a lot of the time, the size is good and feels more the size of the older Hyundai ix35. It could easily fit four in the car with a suitcase or two, even with the seats reclined. The boot isn’t too large but still adequate to throw in some bags or the groceries.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto would be a welcome upgrade, along with an electric tailgate but otherwise I could not fault the car at all.
MORE: Everything Haval