HERMANUS – Haval and its mother company, Great Wall Motors, report only aggregate sales figures to Naamsa each month. On the recent launch of the facelifted H2, however, local representatives lifted the veil to reveal Haval’s small crossover has been finding between 400 and 500 buyers a month. That, if my calculations are correct, means it’s South Africa’s third bestselling vehicle of its type after the Volkswagen T-Cross and Ford EcoSport (we’re curious to see how the newly launched Hyundai Venue and Kia Seltos – both tested in this issue – will fare over an extended period once the initial market excitement levels out). 

It’s an astonishing achievement considering the Chinese passenger-car arm of GWM entered the local market as recently as May 2017. Further interesting nuggets gleaned from the press conference is that the H2 has consistently been selling more than 10 000 units in its home market each month; is Haval second bestselling model globally (the new-generation H6, which is not the model we get here, rakes in the most sales); and that the highest number of H2s found homes in SA in December 2019 during the model’s run-out phase: 464 units.

Now, six years after its Chinese launch and finding itself in a segment that’s quite suddenly bursting at the seams, the current-generation H2 has undergone a facelift to align its design with Haval’s newest products and boost its standard-features tally. 

Visually, the main identifiers are arrow-shaped headlamps equipped with LED lighting units on this flagship Luxury derivative, new five-spoke 18-inch alloys, reprofiled bumpers front and rear, and box-fresh rear lights which ditch the previous units’ dated individual LED elements for more contemporary strip sections. 

The tweaks inside are subtle, but arguably sweeping changes weren’t needed. Aside from a dated-looking infotainment system which now features Apple CarPlay but not Android Auto, plus gimmicky instrumentation, the H2 has one of the best finished cabins in its segment. There are slush-moulded surfaces aplenty on the facia and doors, cloth-covered pillars, plastics that don’t give when prodded and an absence of rattles or squeaks on the model we drove in the Overberg region. 

It’s an impressive cockpit that’s well equipped. Luxury models boast a panoramic sunroof (a new addition), faux-leather trim with a power-adjustable driver’s seat, keyless entry and start, a reverse camera, six airbags (standard on the City derivative, too) and climate control, which is no longer dual-zone. 

Seating comfort for the driver is tops thanks to a widely adjustable seat – which has a revised profile – and steering column, but my 1,85-metre frame found the non-height-adjustable passenger seat too lofty, with my hair rubbing the padded roof lining. Aft, there’s generous legroom but only average headroom, while the boot might be a touch tight for family duties (when we tested an H2 in September 2017, we measured just 232 litres).

Another weak point in the H2’s otherwise impressive armoury is the 1,5-litre turbopetrol engine. On paper, compared with its 1,0-/1,2-litre rivals, the unit’s outputs of 105 kW and 202 N.m look generous but the powertrain simply isn’t on par with the best European offerings in terms of efficiency and performance. In day-to-day driving, it’s impressive enough, staying hushed and rowing the little Haval along at a decent lick. Up the pace, however, and there’s a spike in noise without much gain in forward momentum. The ruckus is especially notable because the vehicle’s overall noise suppression is better than average. 

The 1,5T is also rather heavy on fuel. My co-driver and I averaged 8,9 L/100 km in mixed-use driving. On our fuel route, that 2017 test unit posted 8,1 L/100 km, which stands in stark contrast to the Citroën C3 Aircross’ 7,1 L/100 km and the T-Cross 1,0 TSI’s incredible 5,2 L/100 km in similar conditions. 

The rest of the feedback is more positive. The H2 offers an absorbent ride without much body lean, while Haval has clearly worked on the steering system as the rate of response feels more natural than in earlier iterations. The six-speed automatic transmission transmission does a good job of keeping the engine on the boil but I did notice quite a bit of hunting between fifth and sixth gears while cruising at the national limit. 

Two and a half years after we first drove an H2, its sheen hasn’t waned much. Despite my reservations about the interior’s suitability for family use and the powertrain’s shortcomings, Haval’s small crossover remains a formidable player in its segment and this facelifted version should only broaden its appeal. Considering the vehicle’s general competence, therefore, just imagine how good the next-generation H2 will be...



FAST FACTS

Model: Haval H2 1,5T Luxury 6AT
Price: R329 900
Engine: 1,5-litre, 4-cyl, turbopetrol
Power: 105 kW @ 5 600 r/min
Torque: 202 N.m @ 2 200-4 500 r/min
0-100 km/h: 12,08 seconds (tested)
Top speed: 180 km/h
Fuel consumption: 8,0 L/100 km
CO2: 214 g/km
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Service plan: 5-year/60 000 km

See Full Haval H2 price and specs here