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Juliet McGuire

First drive in the Haval H2

Chinese car brands get such a bad rap. Well, they used to. And probably for good reason. But things are a changin’! I headed to Hermanus to test drive the face lifted Haval H2 and I am thrilled that I got to experience this special car in all its glory.

A LITTLE HAVAL STORY

Haval hit our shores in 2017, which is quite late to the party considering the other Chinese brands had already been here about 12 years. But none were able to do what Haval has managed to do. Which is encroach on the European and Japanese rivals. In fact, October 2019 saw a record sale of 1024 units sold in South Africa.

BUT HOW DOES THE H2 FAIR?

Very well! Very well, indeed. It is the third most popular compact SUV in South Africa. I bet you didn’t know that! Haval sells around 460-480 units a month. That is huge! It happens to be Haval’s global sales king and South Africa’s top-seller for Haval. But the challenge to maintain appeal in such a competitive market can be tricky. So Haval has nipped and tucked the H2, improving the safety, making it more practical and even more affordable.

WHAT’S NEW ON THE H2

That rhymes haha! You can see for yourself from the pic that it sports a new grille, bumper, headlights etc. The back also sees a few tweaks. Basically, it looks better than ever. To be honest, I have never really paid much attention to the H2, but the new look made me stand up and take notice. Even though the changes are so subtle, it somehow makes the car that much better looking.

Haval H2

CABIN FEVER

The first thing I noticed when I got in to the car, ok there were two things I noticed, but one was the space. It feels like a much bigger car than any if its rivals which includes the Opel Crossland X, Mahindra XUV300, Volkswagen T-Cross and Citroen C3 Aircross to name a few. The boot may be a bit too small for my liking, but the rear legroom might just make up for it for passengers (just don’t let them bring any luggage).

The other thing I noticed was the quality of the materials and the solid build it oozes. It doesn’t feel nearly as plasticky as some might think (from yesteryear) and certainly gives the rivals a good run for their money.

The only criticism I have about the cabin is that it does look a little outdated. Especially the touchscreen infotainment system. Haval has added Apple CarPlay to it but for us Samsung lovers, there is unfortunately no Android Auto. Such discrimination, I tell you!

The seats have also been redesigned to be a bit more comfy and if safety was ever a worry for you when considering Haval, never fear, because the H2 now boasts six airbags as standard across the range.

Haval H2

WHAT IS THE RANGE?

There are two trim levels to choose from namely the City and the top spec Luxury. This car really is jam-packed with spec. The Luxury even sports a panoramic sunroof. You can also choose between a manual or an automatic transmission.

But where the car is possibly let down, is by the engine. It is powered by a 1.5-litre turbopetrol which produces 105 kW and 202 Nm of torque. While it is fine around town, the open road requires a bit more work from this engine and you will have to plan your overtaking manoeuvres very carefully. It just doesn’t feel as refined as some of its competitor’s units. Fuel consumption is also a bit of a bugger. We sat at around 8.9l/100 km on the launch route and when you consider that the rivals are sitting more around the 6l/100 km mark, you can see why I say it is a let down.

BUT WAIT

As much as the engine is not the greatest out there, it still doesn’t take away from the product that is on offer. It is great value for money and a car that I would happily recommend to people looking in this segment. I will be honest, had you asked me last week, I may have suggested you look to one of its rivals, but with these updates and the fact that you get a five-year/100 000 km warranty and a five-year/60 000 km service plan, it really is a car that is hard to ignore. You should take one for a test drive, I bet it will change your opinion of Haval, if that opinion hasn’t yet been changed.

PRICING OF THE NEW HAVAL H2

H2 City 6MT: R269 900
H2 Luxury 6MT: R294 900
H2 City 6AT: R304 900
H2 Luxury 6AT: R329 900

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