Driven - Feb 2020

Haval H2 Facelift – Launch Drive

Haval’s introduction to South Africa in May of 2017, with the H2, created a bit of a wave in terms of what the Chinese car is or instead was—proving to be the most successful model for the brand locally with around 7235 units finding homes. Understandably so given in China 10 000 units for the last four years leave dealerships making it the 3rd best selling model in its class.
The H2 finds itself a contender in a very brand focused market against the stiff competition from the likes of the Ford Ecosport, Hyundai Creta, Renault Duster and VW’s T-Cross. The key behind the H2 success is value for money, and the new model picks up brilliantly where the old one left off.

What’s New?

The facelift is rather comprehensive in keeping the H2 image fresh, the revised front end, with a new chrome grille, bonnet and front bumper design with integrated foglights and ditching the Hawk style headlights for a modern slim design. The rear also gets a new taillight design with a chrome strip linking them. A new rear splitter design and chrome exhaust tips and an overall sophisticating about it: New 18-inch alloy wheels complete the look rather well, and the facelifted H2 is a beautiful thing without trying too hard.

Internally standard spec is rather plentiful for a car of this price, with the touch screen infotainment with Bluetooth, SD slot and Apple CarPlay exclusively. Additionally, a rearview camera, with Rear PDC, tyre pressure monitor. Keyless entry and go and Panoramic sunroof on the top-spec Lux makes the H2 stand out when compared to rivals standard spec. Importantly for a car aimed at families in South Africa is the extensive safety, ABS, EBD, brake assist and Vehicle Stability Control and 6 airbags are standard across the range. 

Behind the wheel

The H2 offers a single-engine lineup, comprised of a 1.5-litre turbo petrol, delivering 105kW and 202Nm driving the front wheels. Possibly the most surprising element is the powertrain’s ability to speak volumes for the level of development and refinement that has been put into the car. The cabin feels wholesome, and the soft-touch door cars and dash makes the vehicle feel more prominent and more expensive than the price may suggest. The steering is well-weighted, and the coastal route of the R44 ring road allowed for some proper dynamic testing. Despite the strong winds doing there very best to unsettle the car laterally the H2 still pitched its nose with no fuss and even when pushing harder more of the target market will it drove better than a few of the rivals which become very light at the front. During overtaking and kick down, it provides ample thrust with truly impressive in-gear acceleration. Once an understanding of the traditional auto’s kick down tendencies are understood, it tends to carve through traffic, however, at the expense of fuel consumption which rose from 8.9L/100 when driving somewhat sedately, to 10.8L/100 when pressing on at freeway speeds with a powerful headwind.

The Haval brand is far more expansive than most South Africans are aware, the drive of the H2 is more akin to an established manufacturer. Considering the H2 serves as a budget offering is a powerful statement and truly does make it an affordable car with very impressive in class spec and drive. The facelift will likely help make rivals worry, given how impressionable the vehicle has become. A reliable dealer network and aftersales support make this a serious contender for best in class, given how quickly that has been able to make a sizeable impression. It would be fair to say more time behind the wheel will create a better understanding of the package and how it fits into the daily commute and the family haul duties. But with the limited time spent, it does lead to the question of brand snobbishness and its necessity if the budget options are this good.

Pricing

Prices in South Africa Start at just under R270 000 for the base City Manual and are inclusive of a 5-year/100 000km warranty, 5-year/60 000 km service plan and with 5-year/unlimited km Roadside Assitance.     

City 6-Speed MT R269 900,00

Lux 6-Speed MT R294 900,00

City 6-Speed Auto R304 900,00

Lux 6-Speed Auto R329 900,00

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