HAVAL H6 GT BLASTS INTO MZANSI

Haval South Africa pulled out all the stops presenting its latest offering to local motoring media in Hout Bay, Western Cape. This is the new H6 GT compact SUV coupé.

The popularity of this body style made Haval’s decision to field a model to lead the charge of new and exciting products a no-brainer. Complete with sloping roofline with panoramic sunroof, muscular arches and an aerodynamic spoiler package, the H6 GT certainly looks the part – a mini-Urus as some fascinated passers-by called it. The striking design work carries through to the interior where comfortable Alcantara and leather-clad seats and dashboard betray the R629 950 price tag. The acid green interior accents, which match the brake calipers, may be a touch too OTT for some but keep the H6 GT true to its mission to make a bold statement wherever it treads.

Power is provided by the same turbo charged 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine found in the normal H6. However, it now makes 155kW of power at 6 000rpm and 320Nm of torque from 1 500rpm. A 7-speed DCT automatic linked to a “torque-on-demand” 4WD system puts that power to the ground.

The test route prepared for us by Haval gave a hint as to the dynamic aspirations of the H6 GT. Before heading onto the first leg I clicked the Drive Mode into Race – throttle and gearbox response turned all the way up, exhaust valves opened wide and the peppy 4-cylinder roared like an adolescent lion.

Chapman’s Peak drive revealed a surprisingly agile and balanced chassis, while steering was light but sharp enough to tackle the bends up the mountainside. I could count on that shove of low-end torque to pull me out of corners with ease, but the fun ended at about 4 000rpm where the motor seemed to run out of puff.

Threading through Simon’s Town in comfort mode gave me enough time to play around with the infotainment and safety features through the responsive 31.2cm main touch display, among which are a very competent Lane Keep Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and a high quality 360 degree camera. Mind you, every feature you could possibly think of is standard on the GT.

The slow stop-start traffic of Simon’s Town exposed the clunkiness of the DCT. It could never quite decide which gear it would select when in automatic mode and the first to second shift was always accompanied by a thud and a jerk. This meant that I spent most of the time changing cogs myself using the shift paddles behind the steering wheel. A bit of a shame as the H6 GT possesses nearly all the ingredients to be the perfect daily driver around town without having to drive around any of the car’s foibles.

Despite these hiccups, the overall quality of the H6 GT and Haval’s ever increasing local market share is proof that Haval is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with in the budget premium segment.

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