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Wagons punch above their weight

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Wagons punch above their weight

Sharp pricing, loads of features, and reasonable road manners make the Chinese-built Haval wagons hard to ignore, writes BRUCE McMAHON.

The latest Haval SUVs punch well above their weight. Take the Haval Jolion with the first of three variants, the Premium, starting with a drive-away price of around $25,500.

While deemed a compact Sports Utility Vehicle, the 4.4m long Jolion offers top interior space for people and packages plus a swag of gear for comfort and convenience.

For instance, there are paddle shifters for the seven-speed automatic, a 10.25-inch multimedia touch screen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, reverse camera, autonomous emergency braking system with pedestrian and bicycle detection, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and speed sign recognition.

Throw in another $2000 for the Jolion Lux and there’s a 360-degree camera, more stereo speakers plus a driver fatigue monitoring system with a little camera watching from the windscreen pillar.

Some of these driver-assist systems, as in other makes, can be a bit over the top.

Glance out the window for a street address and the monitor sends a warning to the dash, nudge a white line and the lane assist gets huffy, but there’s no denying the Jolion’s cabin comforts. The clean interior design with a premium feel to fit and finish belies the SUV’s showroom prices.

Upfront is well-sorted plus there’s decent room in the back seat for full-sized adults with a surprising amount of cargo space behind.

The three Haval Jolions run with a turbocharged, 1.5 litre petrol engine, developing 110kW and 210Nm of torque to send to the front wheels. It’s no race wagon but it’s adequate for suburbs or highways. Fuel consumption can trend a bit high-ish, toward 9 litres per 100km.

Likewise, ride comfort and road manners are fine under most driving conditions though there’s room for a little extra suspension and steering refinement.

Then there’s the Haval H6, a size up from the Jolion yet just as impressive with driveaway prices from around $30,000 for two-wheel drive versions.

There are four models, culminating in an all-wheel drive H6 Ultra version for close on $40,000 – still well shy of prices for Japanese rivals such as Toyota’s RAV4.

All the H6s, all new in 2021, run a two litre, turbocharged petrol engine producing 150kW and 320Nm of torque while working through a seven-speed automatic transmission.  (A 179kW hybrid version is on its way.)

As with the Jolion, all are backed by a seven-year, unlimited warranty and five-year roadside assistance.

The H6 is a handsome SUV, sitting at 4.6m long and 1.8m wide with a European style and road presence. The interior, packed with features and well-finished, also could be mistaken for an offering from a premium European manufacturer.

All versions feature an array of driver aids such as traffic sign recognition plus lane departure and frontal collision warnings along with most of today’s must-have infotainment systems, while range-topping Ultra models even arrive with an automatic parking system.

Yet it’s not just about the cabin space and tonnes of gadgets.  Like the junior Jolion, the H6 also offers a comfortable ride and competent road manners.

The Havals come from GWM (Great Wall Motors) which also build the GWM Ute. That ute, and these new SUVs, today are making bolder, more convincing claims on the Australian market.

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