Long-term test (Introduction): Haval H6 C 2,0T 2WD Luxury 6DCT
At the forefront of what the burgeoning Chinese automotive market has to offer, Haval, the SUV and crossover-focused division of Great Wall Motors, continues to impress with both its ambitious desire for growth in markets outside of its homeland, as well as the impressive pace with which it has steadily improved the quality of its offerings.
Indeed, with a total of 28 dealerships now up and running in South Africa – together with the recent launch of its largest model, the H9 – it’s safe to say Haval has settled in for the long run.

While the H2 small SUV impressed us with a well-earned runner-up place in a four-car comparison test in our September issue, it’s the H6 C (tested in November 2017) that remains our favourite current Haval offering. As such, I’m looking forward to seeing whether our initial impressions of this model stand true over the course of a 12-month test.

Acknowledging the successes Korean brands Hyundai and Kia have had in markets outside of their own, the evolution in design language by Haval to clearly more European-influenced lines has been inspired. Complemented by a smart-looking metallic-silver paint finish on this test unit, it hasn’t taken long for my H6 C 2,0T Luxury to turn heads and garner attention both at the traffic lights and on the school run.

Complete with standard 19-inch alloy wheels and scuff plates front and rear, as well as a classy hint of chrome highlighting, I appreciate the sense of sophistication exuded by the H6 C’s exterior styling. In top-of-the-range Luxury trim, there’s little to want for in terms of standard specification.

From keyless entry and ignition to a panoramic sunroof, a full bouquet of audio settings and parking sensors all-round (including a reverse camera), it’s only optional heated seats I’ve missed at the tail-end of winter in Cape Town.

In terms of packaging, I appreciate my children’s Isofix-based child seats mounting easily onto the rear seat bench and that there’s enough legroom in this area for neither of them to reach the front seats with the often dirty soles of their shoes.

If there’s a potential Achilles’ heel to this H6 C package, it’s the fuel consumption delivered by a not-yet-run-in 2,0-litre turbopetrol engine. That said, aided by a nicely refined six-speed dual-clutch transmission, I look forward to consumption levels settling down somewhat as my mileage accrues.

After 1 month
Current Mileage:
480 km
Average fuel consumption:
12,41 L/100 km
We like:
comprehensive specification; neat styling
We don’t like:
fuel consumption

Long-term test (Update 1): Haval H6 C 2,0T 2WD Luxury 6DCT
Two months into my time with this Pittsburg Silver H6 C and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve explained to curious bystanders what make of vehicle this is ... and what exactly Haval is. To the inevitable follow-up question about what it’s like, my reaction has been positive. Certainly, it’s dif_ cult to ignore the value-for-money prospect currently offered by Haval’s local range and this Luxury-specification H6 C, in particular, wants for little.
I’ve managed to curb the runaway fuel consumption somewhat and am learning to live with the oddly weighted steering system that adds load as you apply lock.

After 2 months
Current Mileage:
1 585 km
Average fuel consumption:
11,68 L/100 km

Long-term test (Update 2): Haval H6 C 2,0T 2WD Luxury 6DCT
Unlike more established brands, it’s taken me a little longer than usual to familiarise myself with the DNA of this Haval. That said, it’s refreshing to note a welcome level of substance beyond the initial appeal of a comprehensive standard-specifications list. The H6 C, for example, is my first long-termer to alert its driver should one of the rear-seat passengers not have their seatbelt fastened.
Of the H6’s quirks I haven’t quite gotten used to – relative thirst aside – is a disappointingly poor turning circle for a vehicle in this segment, and the fact that the audio system cuts out each time reverse gear is engaged.

After 3 months
Current Mileage:
3 120 km
Average fuel consumption:
11,43 L/100 km

Long-term test (Update 3): Haval H6 C 2,0T 2WD Luxury 6DCT
In South Africa, the number of ranges in the product line-up of Haval (the burgeoning SUV sub-brand of Great Wall Motors) stands at five, but it’s not likely to stay that way for long. While the ageing H1 caters for the entry- level market, the impressive H2 has been causing a stir in the small-crossover segment since its introduction last year.

With the colossal H9 taking on the likes of the Toyota Fortuner with its Prado-aping equipment levels, two loosely related midsize offerings, the H6 (on the right in the picture) and H6 C, complete the list.

While these two siblings share a name and platform, the H6 “Coupé” is tasked with leading the way in terms of the brand’s upmarket future. To match the updated materials and improved ergonomics compared with the more affordable H6, the C gains a more refined drivetrain, including the option of a dual-clutch transmission (the H6 is offered exclusively with a manual gearbox).

When approaching the top-of-the-range H6 C Luxury in low light, the Haval’s side mirrors project the company’s red logo on the ground at a press of the key fob or a simple touch of the door handle, which also activates the LED headlamps. Beyond the illuminated doorsills, there’s more lighting effects in the cabin, including a choice of six mood hues.

While I would prefer a greater range of adjustment for the steering column (more reach) and powered driver’s seat (lower), my family and I are comfortably accommodated in the H6 C. The generous rear legroom and doors opening to nearly 90 degrees are particularly welcome. While we haven’t been bothered by the shallow luggage compartment (as yet), its tall loading height could prove a challenge when loading heavy items.

Despite the fact my commute includes a section of about 30 km with a speed limit of 80 km/h, I haven’t yet been able to realise an average fuel consumption lower than 11,0 L/100 km. That’s some way off the 9,8 L/100 km claim displayed on the car’s windscreen.

After 4 months
Current Mileage:
4 713 km
Average fuel consumption:
11,25 L/100 km
We like: styilng; overall comfort
We dislike: fuel consumption

Long-term test (Update 4): Haval H6 C 2,0T 2WD Luxury 6DCT
As Nicol said, the annual festive season break offers an opportunity to relax and spend important time with family and friends, but it also means an extended period of time driving only one vehicle, something which is not often possible in this profession. The Haval H6 C proved a competent and impressively comfy companion through a series of planned day trips with my excitable children; the only souring of the mood in the back seat was when the parking sensors muted the audio system during all reversing exercises.

I’ve commented previously on the ease of access to the rear seats afforded by the H6 C’s wide-opening doors but a further boon in terms of comfort and versatility is the presence of a flat floor area ahead of these seats. This not only allows for greater freedom of movement when, for example, loading three people in the second row, but also the potential to store items that might be called upon while in transit (including baby wipes). On the subject of the wide-opening doors, the small grab handles on the front door cards can be difficult to reach when seated.

While the H6 C’s overall ride quality is impressive, a local section of gravel road occasion- ally tackled at the urging of my offspring has unearthed some crashiness, particularly through the front suspension. This is not aided, of course, by the standard 19-inch rubber fitted to this top- of-the-range derivative.

I’m happy to report my average fuel consumption has finally dipped (just) below the 11,0 L/ 100 km mark, likely a combination of accumulated mileage and the ever-impressive workings of the H6 C’s Getrag-sourced dual- clutch transmission.

While continuing to field questions about what make of car I’m driving, followed by the inevitable “what’s it like?”, it’s worth noting the H6 (including the new model as yet unconfirmed for SA) is Haval’s bestselling vehicle globally and helped this leading Chinese brand to recently record its five-millionth sale.

After 5 months
Current Mileage:
8 475 km
Average fuel consumption:
10,92 L/100 km
We like: rear-seat packaging; seamless transmission
We dislike: audio system mutes during reversing

Long-term test (Update 5): Haval H6 C 2,0T 2WD Luxury 6DCT

Despite a freeway-focused 70 km daily commute, there’s nothing like a long road trip to get all the mechanicals working at optimal temperatures. Although the appeal of a Garden Route cruise is always strong, on this occasion it was features writer Wilhelm Lutjeharms to whom I handed the keys of the Haval H6 C as he headed to PE on assignment.

Early reports suggested impressive levels of overall comfort for Wilhelm and photographer Peet Mocke. Using a combination of the car’s cruise control and the H6 C’s eco driving mode, the duo reported average fuel consumption figures as low as 8,7 L/100 km.

After 6 months
Current Mileage:
9 449 km
Average fuel consumption:
11,68 L/100 km

Long-term test (Update 6): Haval H6 C 2,0T 2WD Luxury 6DCT
 

It’s been with keen interest I’ve followed the progress of sister title Leisure Wheels’ latest project build, dubbed Shesha (it means “go faster” in Zulu). An idea borne out of the knowledge the 2,0-litre engine fitted to the Haval H6 Coupé shares many of its internals with the legendary Mitsubishi Lancer Evo performance car – together with the modern intrigue around the so-called vrr-phaa exhaust soundtrack associated with the workings of a dual-clutch transmission – led staffers on a journey to unlock more performance. 

New decals and 19-inch alloys aside, it’s intriguing to learn this Shesha project has realised both an impressive increase in overall performance (with a soundtrack to match) compared with the standard H6 C, but that a welcome consequence of this tuning exercise has seen a big improvement in overall fuel consumption. 

With the consent of Haval South Africa, Leisure Wheels sought the experienced hands of tuning company Dastek which, in turn, determined the H6 C’s drivetrain could easily deliver more performance supposedly without com- promising reliability. That said, the combination of a (R3 900) Unichip and a De Graaf-sourced free-flow exhaust system has boosted power from 140 kW in the standard model (like mine) to 180 kW delivered to the front wheels via the H6’s excellent six-speed transmission. While the 0-100 km/h sprint time has lowered accordingly (11,01 to 9,40 seconds), by all accounts it’s the accompanying exhaust note that draws the most attention. 

More pertinent to my long-term H6 C’s progress is that, in finetuning the Haval’s engine to deliver a more linear power curve that better manages turbo lag, the Shesha project car is currently returning around 8,90 L/100 km, where my car is averaging 10,82. 

After 7 months
Current Mileage:
 11 073 km
Average fuel consumption: 
10,82 L/100 km
We like: head-turning styling
We dislike: suspension too easily unsettled on uneven surfaces

Long-term test (Update 7): Haval H6 C 2,0T 2WD Luxury 6DCT

Highlighted by time spent on our first SUV Shootout (see the May 2019 issue), the relative pace with which new infotainment systems and technologies potentially ages a still modern interior package is forcing some manufacturers to play catch up. While the absence of sat-nav in rival products is supplemented by the inclusion of mobile phone-pairing technologies, the H6 C offers no such functionality. Its touchscreen infotainment system works well while remaining basic in comparison with what other brands are offering at a similar price point. 

After 8 months
Current Mileage:
 12 366 km
Average fuel consumption: 
10,90 L/100 km

Long-term test (Update 8): Haval H6 C 2,0T 2WD Luxury 6DCT

Colleague Marius Boonzaier’s recent trip to the head office of Haval in China revealed a number of new models scheduled for release in SA, including the latest H6. As mentioned in a previous update, our market is one of a select few where the SUV-focused division of GWM sells both an entry-level H6 alongside the more sophisticated H6 C – even though the latter model offers no accompanying branding to indicate its supposed “coupé” status in the line-up. 

That said, based on the impressive levels of updated sophistication and perceived build quality experienced on the new car, it’s safe to assume the newer H6 will, indeed, replace the H6 C next year. 

Notable exterior updates on the revised model include a larger chrome grille housed within an altogether blunter nose, as well as a new alloy wheel design that moves away from the “missing centre cap” items to the H6 C. I was especially interested to note the rear numberplate housing on the facelifted car has been moved from the tailgate to the lower bumper. As it stands, this remains one of my biggest bugbears with the exterior of the current H6 C, especially as it pertains to our market. Designed to accommodate a larger (Chinese) number plate, the result is the two remaining lower mounting-point holes are left exposed and look decidedly untidy. I’m told the best solution for this is to have a local dealer- ship retrofit a new holder that includes a lower lip section. 

With the news the updated H6 will include a seven-speed dual- clutch transmission, I’m hopeful the introduction of an additional ratio will go some way towards improved fuel consumption, my H6 C averaging nearly 11,0 L/100 km as it nears its 15 000 km first service. 

After 9 months
Current Mileage:
 14 050 km
Average fuel consumption: 
10,82 L/100 km
We like: enthusiasm for growth and learning from the Haval brand
We dislike: execution of rear numberplate fitment

 

Long-term test (Update 8): Haval H6 C 2,0T 2WD Luxury 6DCT

With the odometer reading on my H6 C nearing the 15 000 km mark, I made enquiries about booking the vehicle in for its first service. With none of the current Cape-based Haval dealerships located close to my home address in Somerset West, I opted to deliver my car to the Thorp Plumstead workshop a day ahead of its scheduled appointment. 

They were friendly and efficient, giving me a call to confirm the repair of two windscreen stone chips (R329,57). While I accept some dealerships conserve precious water by not washing the exteriors of cars, I did hope the H6 C would at least be vacuumed. Alas. 

After 10 months
Current Mileage:
 15 270 km
Average fuel consumption: 
10,86 L/100 km