HAVAL H6GTHave a look at the Haval
The latest Haval H6 GT is a great looking addition to the very crowded medium SUV market. In the top-of-the-line Ultra trim it has a swag of standard features that lead the pack – everything from a heated leather wrapped steering wheel to heated and ventilated seats, hands–free powered tailgate, all-wheel drive with selectable modes and even a panoramic sunroof and all at the not too extravagant price point kick-off of $46,490 driveaway.
Which makes the H6 GT an extremely attractive proposition – at least on paper, with awesome specs and a clear price-point advantage. First impressions, both outside and in are similarly positive.
Like its siblings, the H6 GT is a muscular looking little beastie, but the latest model variant has a sportier feel inspired by the cutback roofline of a coupe which is more akin to the premium brands like BMW than its direct rivals. The GWM designers have also been daring enough to twist up the style stakes with unusual touches like lime brake calipers rather than the stop-fast red of a typical sports model.
I’m not usually a fan of primer grey – that strange shade between silver and charcoal that seems to scream undercoat. But I will admit that our H6 GT’s Crayon Grey had enough shiny topcoat lacquer and sufficient contrasting chrome and black accents to pull it off – perhaps helped out by those funky green calipers gleaming behind the stylish 19-inch black spokes wrapped in Michelin Sports tyres.
Inside, the Comfort-tek artificial leather seats boast four-way power adjustment as well as heating and cooling. Although, I never tried the heating and found that the cooling functionality was as lacklustre as the air con when trying to combat a hot summer’s day in Perth. Even on maximum, the system struggled to keep the cab cool.
From a bolstering perspective, both front and rear seats are generally comfortable, and the faux leather is certainly softer than old fashioned vinyl, if a little too tactile for my taste. In the Ultra trim you also get suede look accents, a splashing of chrome and ambient lighting options. The door handles are cunningly embedded into the sculptured lines of the door – a tricky find first time at night. But they do look extremely neat.
From the start, I was rather impressed and figuring there is a good reason the number of Havals in the shopping centre car park is slowly growing.
Good looks, comfort, top specs – including a towing capacity of 2,000kg braked – it’s serious bang for your buck.
Even the first step of engagement with a new car – connecting my phone via Bluetooth was relatively simple and pain free.
I started for home with a smile, leaving fiddling with all the drive mode settings until later.
The Ultra offers multiple drive modes – Normal, Sport, Eco, Race, Snow, Gravel and Offroad. The Eco will suit those in absolutely no hurry to depart the traffic lights; Race (or perplexed mode as I like to call it) makes a lot of noise for those who love rumble and roar when under firm throttle. Stir the engine along, with the throttle plate twisted wide open, to open its lungs and stretch its legs and you notice a pleasant rasp from the tail pipe tips, sadly you won’t notice much else.
Another perplexing feature is that when switching drive modes, the GT thinks it’s a good ideal to trumpet it to the world with a bold double flick of the hazard lights! You’ll probably want to avoid making any change in peak hour traffic, as you’ll scare the wits out of the driver behind you as they suddenly see your hazard lights pulse and slam on their brakes.
Oh, and that the Offroad option is a wee bit misleading, actually … it’s a lot misleading in an Australian market saturated with 4x4s. It just means that if you’re on a muddy driveway to the winery or needing to get off wet lawn having just washed your H6GT, you might get a bit more traction.
These options – like most controls are buried in the menus on the not particularly sensitive 12.3” touch screen. The kind that you need to tap more than once, or touch exactly right. The kind that is particularly frustrating until you discover you can swipe down on the screen to surface the most frequent controls. Which seemed wonderful – unless the setting change didn’t actually work.
Why did I want to change the drive mode at the touch of a button? Well, normal is the default setting, but I prefer my vehicles be attentive and eager to follow my next instruction. As noted, Race mode doesn’t provide much performance gain, instead resulting in the transmission and engine embarking on a long-lasting, no one wins, domestic dispute of surging, revving and grumbling as they slug it out over who’s boss. There’s no surge of power, just awkward and poorly mapped forcibly high rpm gear change points programmed into the dual clutch trans.
With a dual clutch setup, I’d expect performance benefits, but the H6GT seemed to do the opposite. Accelerating away on the green light at anything less than firm throttle throws the engine and transmission into a complete spack attack! It will hold gear, refuse to upshift, forcing the tacho to approach the red line before a jolting upshift, and then panic as it tries to work out what gear it should be using.
But to give the GT credit, if I settled for the slightly less frenetic Sports mode it was relaxed around town and was a comfortable, well-mannered A to B commuter.
Haval indicates a drinking habit of around 8.4L/100 but I averaged closer to 10 over a range of driving habits. Meaning I should get approx. 600ks over a tank.
What did annoy me in a constant spat over who knows best, is that every time you re-start the car, it bounces back to the default settings. After repeatedly re-setting, the H6 GT eventually wore me down and won the battle of wills and I succumbed to the fact it was determined to cruise rather than bustle or hustle. And to be totally honest, that’s exactly where the H6GT performs at its best.
Unfortunately, this lapse in memory retention was not the worst example of persistent over-ride of driver preference. GWM are taking safety very seriously – full marks and a five-star ANCAP rating for that determination. However, for a reasonably alert and careful driver the constant reinstatement of Driver Fatigue monitoring and Emergency Lane assist resulted in an unpleasant driving experience. At least Smart Dodge remained switched off once cancelled.
These features sound fabulous – and I was impressed that the screen included detailed explanations of what I was deactivating. However, my vision is not so impaired that I cannot see an oversized truck in the lane next to me and I did not enjoy smart dodge sending violent haptic pulses through the steering wheel to encourage me to the opposite side of my lane in an unnecessary evasive tactic.
The overactive electronics shied like a skittish horse at the solid concrete walls near roadworks, painted-over line markings on re-made roads, large vehicles in adjoining lanes and, possibly, the vehicle’s own shadow if the angle of the sun was wrong. It actively fought my attempt to change into the middle lane of three, presumably because there was an evil car lurking in the far lane that might or might not attempt to change lanes despite me being in clear view ahead of it, indicating and half-way into the lane.
To be fair, this hypersensitivity is unlikely to be noticed on single lane suburban roads or on wide lanes of well-made roads.
Other electronic inconsistencies also caused me grief. Connecting to Android auto demanded a cable – even after the cable was plugged in. The quality of the hands-free speaker was dreadful – I stopped attempting to make calls after the fourth person hung up suggesting I call them when I returned from Mars. The stereo determinedly defaulted to USB stick (seriously???) or connected to Bluetooth only to mysteriously freeze while halfway to a destination. And when riding the freeway on a skittish horse liable to jerk away from scary trucks, the only alternative was to listen to the sound of my irritated pulse thudding in my ears.
It turned out that the functions that seemed powered by a three toed sloth weren’t actually slow – there was just a knack to exactly where to wave your foot at just the right speed to open the tail to the commodious rear loading zone. Unless it was a Tuesday at 3.37 and you were carrying a heavy bag of shopping in each hand, and it refused to respond until after you put the shopping down to find the remote. And if you put your hand on the door handle and waited for just the right amount of time, it would unlock with the proximity fob.
Which really sums up the Haval experience – you get an awesome spec and a swag of features if you just accept the way it works and find the right workaround whether it’s remembering the mystical perfect point to activate the tailgate or changing the drive settings before you head into the traffic. Oh, and don’t be fooled – deactivating the lane assist in the easy access swipe menu doesn’t actually switch off the skittish horse emergency lane change wild ride. Even with indicators on, it still tried to correct my lane change – go figure.
The ride and handling don’t deserve a GT moniker; cornering is soft with a roly-poly feel if being hustled along, and mid corner dips or bumps quickly unsettle its composure as compression and rebound rates are just too soft for our road conditions – taking a leaf out of K ia’s book for some local ride and handling calibration would see significant benefit to the GT’s comfort and control.
Responsive acceleration whilst on the move (even in Sport mode) is lackadaisical. Powered by a 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder, planting the right boot as you turn and come out of a street corner results in a long lull, yawn, and then a bit of huff and puff without much of a sporty pick up until 2,000rpm register on the tacho, then as the GT rouses from its slumber looking at you from over the top of its reading glasses and asks, “were you talking to me”? it eventually gets a move on. Sadly, the dual clutch does nothing to help here.
However, once I changed my mindset, we became much better friends. Tootling around town in Normal drive mode or upping the ante to Sport with the skittish settings deactivated before I left the driveway, the Haval H6 GT was a very comfortable and practical everyday commuter.
This was a car I really wanted to love. I started out with high hopes as I surveyed the impressive specs and admired its aggressive modern looks. But all the enthusiasm was beaten out of me by downright annoying and invasive electronics. The most frustrating part is that simply permitting a driver to define their own settings and retain those settings after a re-start would have completely changed my perspective on a vehicle which has the potential to become a genuine challenger to the more established class leaders and at a much more affordable price.
At the end of the day, I truly admire what Haval have achieved. The H6GT has great styling, with a certain charm and charisma bad boy appeal. It’s very well appointed and leaves little room for optional extras as you’ve already got one of everything. The interior design is modern, functional with a good level of fit and finish that any Haval owner will appreciate.
But, just like all others before it, there’s room to improve and there’s absolutely nothing that can’t be sorted. A little adjustment so the engine and trans can leverage each other’s strengths, tweak the ride and handling with little local tuning and you’ve got one smart looking vehicle, with handling and performance to validate its GT insignia.
Model: Haval H6GT Ultra AWD
- Colour: Crayon Grey
- Starting Price: $ 40,990
- Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
- Output: 150kW/320Nm
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic
- Fuel: 8.4L/100km
- Safety rating ANCAP 5 Stars for the H6
About our Motoring Editor: Ray has been passionate about all things automotive since he first started collecting Matchbox and Hot Wheels models when he was five. Since leaving his executive role at General Motors (GM), he’s been sharing his driving experiences with Australian audiences for nearly 20 years, commencing his automotive journalist career with a popular WA-based magazine and was writing his own column in The West Australian for 8 years.
Ray’s strong love of automotive engineering and clever design has seen his articles and photography featured in prominent national magazines in Australia and the UK. He loves sharing his passion with other drivers, including via a long running stint as Senior Instructor for Land Rover Experience, providing training and education for new vehicle owners.
Recently Ray has been presenting on TV shows including Ready for Adventure and the very popular Caravan and Camping WA, to showcase some of the great products, vehicles and companies that make getting out and exploring Western Australia that much more enjoyable.