With big-name brands putting up prices and vehicle supply still thin on the ground, car buyers are turning to upstart brands such as GWM in droves.
The GWM Haval H6 was China’s top-selling SUV for years, and is making serious headway in Australia in its latest form – up 124 per cent with more than 4000 units sold this year.
For the money, it’s certainly a pretty good-looking SUV with sharp lightning signatures, and offers plenty of equipment and space for the money.
Let’s take a closer look.
The company offers straight-up national drive-away pricing so there’s less confusion.
The base H6 Premium is currently $33,990 drive-away, climbing to $36,990 for the Haval H6 Lux tested here. The flagship Ultra is another $3000.
For context, let’s look at equivalent (one-up-from-base grade) variants of competitors, using drive-away prices based on a Melbourne postcode:
In terms of colours, Hamilton White is the standard base paint. It’s a further $495 for Blue Sapphire, Burgundy Red, Energy Green, Golden Black, or Ayers Grey.
In terms of trims and material choices, fit-and-finish, and overall aesthetics the interior certainly offers a better experience than the price might suggest.
It’s minimalist with a few flashy trim bits. There are even speaker covers that sort of resemble those Burmester ones used by Mercedes-Benz.
Yes there’s a bit too much dust- and scratch-prone piano black trimming along the tunnel, but this is an industry-wide problem that’s not limited to GWM Haval.
The H6 automatically unlocks as you approach with the key in your pocket, and there’s a good amount of steering wheel movement fore and aft.
The power-adjustable driver’s seat is flat and lacks thigh support, but the artificial leather trim doesn’t feel cheap or nasty. Both front seats are heated too.
Behind the thin-rimmed wheel, which feels like it could be from a more expensive car, sits a solidly mounted digital display with car and engine speeds, lane-assist animation, tyre-pressure monitor and trip computer.
It lacks the degree of configurations you get in a Volkswagen Group cluster (no full-size maps) but has crisp resolution and didn’t lag. Some people might prefer a traditional-looking speedo and tacho option, which GWM could probably code in.
The indicator stalk is on the left, and the cruise control is activated by a small stalk on the column.
The centre touchscreen looks very flash and has a home display offering surface audio and climate controls, with a slightly hard-to-reach left-hand side vertical menu offering more shortcuts.
Said screen relies on phone mirroring for navigation, plugged into a USB port on the passenger side under the tunnel (another left-hand drive relic?), and offered good Bluetooth quality with reliable re-pairing.
A big highlight is the 360-degree camera which, in terms of the various view angles it offers, and in terms of sheer resolution, is just about the best we’ve sampled in a non-luxury car. It puts many bigger-name brands to shame in this area.
It’s in vogue to reduce buttons and put functions into touchscreen menus, which many people find preferable. But it’s all about how you lay it out, and how snappy the system is at processing inputs.
There are buttons to turn the A/C, defoggers, camera and hazard lights on, and to turn the screen off. But everything else is done through the display.
It’s fiddly to mess with climate controls in a touchscreen, or to change the seat heating, or engage or disengage various driver assist systems – especially if the loading speed isn’t A-plus as it sometimes seemed to be here.
The Haval H6’s gear shifter is a fashionable rotary dial and looks very swish, with a centre piece you push in to engage park. But GWM would be smart to add defined start and end points rather than letting it spin endlessly.
There’s certainly a serviceable amount of cabin storage from the large door bins, decent console, sunnies holder in the roof, phone holder ahead of the shifter, cupholders on the tunnel, and a hidden section beneath.
There’s no denying those back seats are sensationally roomy, with my 194cm body easily situated behind my own ideal driving position with room to spare.
Said back seats have the requisite outboard child-seat attachments, a flip-down armrest with cupholders, map pockets, damped folding grab handles, rear air vents, and two USB-A ports.
The boot is accessed by a manual tailgate at this spec grade and its capacity is listed as 600 litres. There are a couple of storage bins on the left- and right-hand sides and you get a removable cargo blind, plus back seats that fold down 60:40.
Below the loading floor is a temporary space-saver spare wheel.
The majority of the Haval H6 line-up shares a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with peak outputs of 150kW at 6000rpm and 320Nm between 1500 and 4000rpm.
It’s mated to a standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The majority of the range is front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is an option in the H6 Ultra range-topper.
Fuel consumption for the car tested is a claimed 7.4 litres per 100km, and peak towing capacity is listed as 2000kg.
My highway-biased fuel economy test yielded 7.1L/100km consumption, while a more mixed-cycle route ended up at 8.5L/100km.
The seats don’t offer much thigh or side support, but on the plus side the driving position is elevated and it’s quite an easy car to see out of.
The engine doesn’t lack punch, occasionally chirping the Hankook Ventus 225/60 front tyres, with a wide torque band and acceptable refinement levels from inside. We were able to do the 0-100km/h dash in bit over 8.0 seconds.
The in-house GWM dual-clutch transmission generally behaved quite well with smooth shifting.
The best way to drive a turbo engine and DCT combination like this is to be progressive rather than aggressive with your accelerator inputs, to negate front wheel spin, engine lag and transmission lag.
It’s not terrible dynamically. The suspension is quite soft and pliant, the steering light, and the refinement in terms of noise, vibration and harshness intrusion was acceptable.
But there’s also some body roll in corners, little steering feedback, and suspension that feels a touch prone to thump over small, sharp road bumps. It could do better at controlling how the car rebounds from undulations.
But in all honesty, the average buyer will probably find it perfectly acceptable, which it is.
There are a plethora of driver-assist features including adaptive cruise control that worked well, lane assist that steers you between road lines so long as the corner isn’t too tight, and blind-spot warning lights in the mirrors.
You can also watch a live animation of the lane-keeping system in the instrument cluster, showing you a representation of what the cameras and radars are seeing.
One gripe is the Emergency Lane Keep function that is too sensitive, chiming at you even if you aren’t straying outside the lines. When you turn it off (through several screen menus), it turns back on at restart.
The adaptive cruise control system is also designed to slow the vehicle in turns, but again it was too sensitive. I would just over-ride it with the accelerator.
H6 Premium highlights:
- LED headlights and tail lights
- Auto headlights, wipers
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Space-saver spare wheel
- Keyless entry, push-button start
- Cloth seats, manual adjustable
- Single-zone climate control
- Rear air vents
- 10.25-inch instrument cluster
- 10.25-inch touchscreen
- Apple CarPlay, Android Auto (wired)
- Front and rear USB ports
- 6-speaker audio
- Reversing camera
H6 Lux adds:
- Roof rails
- Front parking sensors
- Rear privacy glass
- Power-folding side mirrors
- 4 x one-touch windows
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Dual-zone climate control
- Synthetic leather seats
- Heated front seats
- Power-adjustable driver’s seat
- Anti-glare rear-view mirror
- 360-degree cameras
- Adaptive cruise control
- Traffic Jam Assist
The flagship H6 Ultra adds features such as 19-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, heated steering wheel, wireless phone charger, ventilated front seats, self-parking, cross-traffic alert, a 12.3-inch touchscreen upgrade, and a head-up display.
The GWM Haval H6 attained the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating against the latest 2020-22 protocols.
It scored 90 per cent for adult protection, 88 per cent for child protection, 73 per cent for pedestrian/cyclist protection, and 81 per cent for safety assist features.
Standard features include dual front, front-side and two-row curtain airbags, as well as a front-centre airbag between driver and passenger for side-impacts. You also get parking sensors at both ends.
Standard assistance features include:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Car, Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Junction assist
- Forward collision warning
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Lane-keeping and centring aids
- Lane departure warning
- Traffic sign recognition
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Driver drowsiness detection
- Traffic Jam Assist
- Emergency Lane Keep
- Intelligent Cornering Control
One way GWM is working towards addressing low resale-values and a lack of badge cred, is providing a great seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty – among the longest of any brand.
The first service is due at 12 months or 10,000km. Interestingly, all other services are at longer 15,000km distance intervals. As is common with these plans it excludes many consumables.
GWM Haval H6 2.0T service pricing:
- 12mths or 10,000km: $210
- 24mths or 25,000km: $280
- 36mths or 40,000km: $380
- 48mths or 55,000km: $480
- 60mths or 70,000km: $210
There are some frustrating quirks with some of the driver-assist features and the interfaces, and the suspension tune could be improved.
But, the GWM Haval H6 offers inarguably good value-for-money (just keep residuals in mind); and in terms of performance, technology and design feels every bit as contemporary as its rivals – for less money.
Is it the class leader? No it isn’t. Yet it’s not remotely surprising Haval is doing so well, and its rate of improvement means all competitors need to be on high alert.
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MORE: Everything GWM Haval H6