Haval H9 review New Zealand
Haval is a big thing when it comes to the SUV industry, and yet (probably like you), I hadn’t heard of them until very recently. When I say big, I mean that the Chinese vehicle brand claims to be number one in the world when it comes to the SUV market (and based on sheer population I have no reason to doubt this), but now, after driving their H9, I also mean that they are BIG in vehicle size too.
Launched in New Zealand the latter part of last year, Haval led their charge with a H2 (small SUV) and H6 (medium). Both vehicles came well appointed and both were positioned well price wise to grab attention (ah the joys of mass production). Evidently, things are going to plan, as they have now added to their offerings with the H9.
The H9 is a 7 seater mammoth, with proportions that are truly hard to miss. Its near 5m length is not that uncommon nowadays but throw in 2m width and the same again in height and you have a rather substantial vehicle – something that essentially exceeds the car park space at our local supermarket.
As with most large SUV’s, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I personally think that it’s hard for a vehicle brand to achieve drop-dead good looks from something the size of a small house, however, the H9 does offer up some distinctive styling cues with its dominant grille, 3D Xenon headlights, large sunroof, long running boards, vertical LED taillamps and a tailgate that opens, hmm, like a gate.
The task of climbing (quite literally) inside is aided in part by the aforementioned running boards and a well-positioned interior handle. The interior has been well thought out and offers up plenty (unexpected) luxuries. The seats are french double stitched and can be heated, ventilated and will even massage you. The dash and centre console is high glossed, with chrome accents. The Infotainment gives you a powerful stereo and 8” colour screen navigation with camera display. The H9 comes with more than its fair share of driver assists, the likes of lane departure and blind spot warnings plus cruise control that unfortunately is not adaptive and sun visors the size of frozen chickens.
Of course, there’s an abundance of passenger room, and legroom enough for a basketball team to be comfy. The H9’s 3rd row of seats are electric, so you can raise and lower to your heart’s content and with these flat, you get 747(what an apt number) Litres of space to use.
Under the bonnet is a 2l turbocharged engine that (when strapped to the 8-speed auto box) gives you 160kW and 324Nm. There is quite a lot of turbo lag though, so just be careful when you look to speed out of junctions or undertaking overtaking moves, there is quite a delay when you stamp down on the accelerator, even in Sports, it appears that this term is a relative one.
Although Haval boast that the H9 has a very progressive suspension and chassis, (and I’m sure with its ride height and clearance it’s capable off-road) I found that on the tarmac it drove like an SUV of old, fine when you’re on long straight runs but corners need just a little more attention.
Overall, the Haval H9 provides a sizable return for anyone that needs a BIG 7 seater SUV. It offers a lot of bells and whistles but it I would suggest that it lacks just a little bit of refinement here and there.That being said, it is easy to see why Haval is such a big name in SUV’s.
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