Once upon a time people would have scoffed if you said you owned a Haval, but China’s SUV specialist continues to make big sales strides in Australia – both the Jolion and H6 are up by over 150 per cent year-to-date (YTD).
It’s a reflection of huge improvements in the product, given both compete in hotly-contested segments against big names from Japan and Korea.
This year GWM Haval has thrown a couple of curveballs into the mix. First was the H6 Hybrid which lines up nicely against the top-selling Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, and now we have the 2022 Haval H6 GT, an ‘SUV coupe’ designed to be a cut-price BMW X4 of sorts.
While SUV coupes are everywhere in the luxury world, mainstream brands haven’t really touched them as yet. The H6 GT stands alone in the medium SUV category, with its closest rival being the Korean-made, French-branded Renault Arkana which is technically a slightly smaller car.
GWM Haval’s local arm hopes the high-spec GT can add up to 400 sales per month to the H6 line, which would put the Chinese mid-sizer around 800-900 monthly units. To put that into perspective, that would have it running alongside the likes of the Honda CR-V, MG HS, Nissan X-Trail and Subaru Forester.
Is it worthy of a $4000 premium over its wagon-bodied H6 sibling?
On test we have the flagship H6 GT Ultra AWD, which is priced from $46,490 drive-away. You can get the lower-spec H6 GT Lux 2WD from $40,990 drive-away.
The GT’s coupe body commands a $3500-$4000 premium over the equivalent H6 SUV, though there’s little in the way of extra specification – we’ll get to the specifics a bit later.
Direct rivals are few and far between, given no mainstream medium SUV competitor offers a coupe body option. The smaller Renault Arkana is arguably its closest rival, which starts at $43,300 before on-road costs in flagship R.S. Line guise.
2022 GWM Haval H6 GT pricing:
- Haval H6 GT Lux 2WD: $40,990
- Haval H6 GT Ultra AWD: $46,490
All prices are drive-away
While there are significant changes to the exterior design, the H6 GT’s cabin is not overly different to the equivalent H6 SUV – though there are some nice distinguishing elements.
For example, the suede upholstery inserts and matte finish brushed-look plastic are classy changes compared to the normal H6’s leatherette and swathes of gloss black, but that’s just about all you’ll notice.
It means the overall design and layout is the same, right down to the shocking driving position. The front seat may be electrically adjustable, but for taller folk like myself the angle of the steering wheel and the flat seat base mean you’re either too close to the steering wheel or lacking lower back support – alternatively you have to jack the seat up high.
Otherwise there’s plenty to like, and it presents well.
The Ultra’s high-resolution 12.3-inch touchscreen looks great on first glance, and despite the lack of native satellite navigation there’s wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which can project turn-by-turn prompts into the driver’s cluster, as well as the head-up display in the Ultra.
Annoyingly though, the climate controls and other shortcuts like idle stop/start and drive modes are accessed via the touchscreen. There’s a quick-access swipe-down menu that allows you to toggle most of these on the fly, but that’s only available when you’re not using Apple CarPlay.
The native software is basic and not the most intuitive. Further, there are some menus and line items that clearly are direct translations from Chinese into English which mean they don’t always make sense on first glance. Further, using the heated and ventilated seats is a fiddly touch-based sequence.
It’s a similar story for the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster. While it offers good brightness, resolution, and animations, there’s limited configurability and some of the graphics and readouts look a little underdone.
The H6 GT’s Race mode offers a more conventional dial layout that definitely would better suit my tastes, however there’s not an option to have a similar design while driving normally, which is a shame.
Like its SUV sibling, the H6 GT offers plenty of storage options throughout the front of the cabin for your odds and ends.
Highlights include the wireless phone charger which doubles as a shelf, and there’s a configurable cupholder section with a slot for things like keys or gum, and a nice big cubby under the centre console to hide things out of sight – it’s also where the USB and 12V outlets are located.
Between the front seats is also a deep storage nook under the front-centre armrest, and the door bins are large enough to accommodate a decent-sized bottle.
It means you aren’t really compromised in terms of practicality and storage despite going for the more style-led offering.
It’s the same in the second row. Space for heads, knees, and legs is great even if you’re my height (6’1), with the GT’s sloping roofline and Ultra spec’s panoramic sunroof leaving plenty of space in the rear.
Like the H6 SUV, there’s above-average passenger room in the rear for the segment, and there’s ISOFIX anchors and top-tether points if you need to tie down car seats for little ones.
Further amenities include a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders, map pockets behind the front seats, and of course bottle holders in the doors.
There are also air vents and USB power outlets behind the centre tunnel. Shame there’s no separate climate controls, though.
Possibly the biggest hit the H6 GT takes in the name of style is boot capacity.
With a claimed 392 litres in five-seat configuration, the GT is 208L down on its H6 SUV sibling.
Drop the rear seats and that expands to 1390L, which is 95L down on the more conventional H6 body variant.
Under the boot floor there’s a steel space-saver spare (T135/90 R17).
All versions of the Haval H6 GT in Australia are powered by a familiar 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine shared with the H6 SUV.
Outputs are quoted at 150kW (6300rpm) and 320Nm (1500-4000rpm), with drive in our tester sent to an on-demand all-wheel drive system via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission as standard. The entry-level H6 GT Lux is front-wheel drive only.
GWM Haval claims combined fuel use of 7.5L/100km for the H6 GT Lux 2WD, and 8.4L/100km for the H6 GT Ultra AWD. Both fuel figures are 0.1L/100km up on the equivalent H6 SUV.
The H6 GT’s fuel tank measures 60 litres, and it can run on cheaper 91 RON regular unleaded.
Having driven multiple versions of the H6 SUV with the same drivetrain, the H6 GT doesn’t feel noticeably different behind the wheel.
There’s that big-car feel from the driver’s seat, with the high shoulder line and broad body giving the impression the H6 is a larger vehicle than it really is, although the driver controls like the steering feel quite light.
It’s a similar story in terms of the ride, with the H6 GT feeling similar to its SUV sibling in having a softer, almost wafty tune that makes it quite the comfortable highway cruiser, and fairly well isolated from bumpy city roads – however body control could be improved.
Riding on 19-inch alloys and stickier 235/55 Michelin tyres in Ultra spec, the H6 GT definitely favours ride comfort over outright sportiness and there’s no adjustable damping to firm up the suspension on the fly – not that most rivals offer such a feature anyway.
Perhaps a more humorous inclusion is the H6 GT’s active exhaust system, which when in Sport or Race mode ‘amplifies’ the exhaust note “for a sportier feeling”. I’d say that’s underselling it.
The H6 GT’s soundtrack actually turns into something you’d expect from a hardcore hot hatch, and it sounds better from the outside. Flicking it into Race also changes the driver’s cluster layout to have two conventional dials for the speedo and tacho, which I wish was an option for normal modes.
The throttle and transmission are also tailored for the sportier mode, with Race offering an AMG or Hyundai N-style kickback on upshifts which makes the H6 GT a bit of fun in a straight line or powering out of a corner.
Speaking of straight-line performance, the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is quite a meaty unit once you get moving. There’s heaps of urge if you put your foot down to overtake, and the meaty mid-range makes light work of driving in the city or suburbs.
What’s not so great, however, is that seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The shifter in the Haval exhibits the quirks we used to complain about when this type of transmission was still fairly new, and is still a common complaint amongst more affordable segments with this kind of shifter.
On take off the H6 is quite hesitant, and at times clumsy. More so when setting off after the idle stop/start system has engaged during a stop.
It holds revs initially as if you’ve left the handbrake on, and then slurs through the first couple of ratios if you try to get going quickly. Eventually you’re encouraged to drive in a very measured manner off the line to avoid the unpleasant sensation.
The DCT can also be a little unpredictable on kickdown, clumsily chugging down a couple of cogs before getting you into the muscular mid-range. It’s worth driving it yourself to see if you can get a feel for it, but it’s also not a complete deal-breaker nor exclusive to Haval.
It’s otherwise a fairly refined place to spend time, with minimal road and wind noise permeating the cabin at speed.
The driver assistance systems are another sore point for me, lacking the intuitiveness and polish you’ll find in most rivals. The adaptive cruise control can be quite sensitive and conservative, and the lane-keep assist system continuously bings, bongs and yanks the steering wheel.
H6 GT Lux highlights:
- 19-inch black-finish alloy wheels
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- LED headlights
- LED daytime running lights
- LED front fog lights
- Roof rails
- Hill descent control
- Power tailgate
- 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster
- 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Eight-speaker sound system
- Dual-zone climate control
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Comfort-Tek leatherette upholstery
- Heated front seats
- Eight-way power driver’s seat
H6 GT Ultra AWD adds:
- All-wheel drive
- Michelin Sport tyres
- 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- Head-up display
- Heated steering wheel
- Ventilated front seats
- Wireless phone charging
- Ambient lighting
- Hands-free power tailgate
- Heated door mirrors
- Semi-automatic parking assist
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Reversing AEB
The GWM Haval H6 line-up – including the H6 Hybrid and H6 GT – wear a five-star ANCAP safety rating with 2022 date stamp.
The H6 received an adult occupant protection score of 90 per cent, a child occupant protection score of 88 per cent, a vulnerable road user protection score of 73 per cent, and a safety assist score of 81 per cent.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Pedestrian and Cyclist detection
- Junction assist
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Lane departure warning
- Lane-keep assist
- Traffic sign recognition
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Intelligent Cruise Assist
- Traffic Jam Assist
- Surround-view cameras
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Seven airbags, including a front-centre airbag
H6 Ultra models add:
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- Reversing AEB
The H6 GT is covered by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. GWM Haval offers five years of capped-price servicing.
While GWM Haval Australia hasn’t detailed specific service pricing for the H6 GT, the regular H6’s first five services are capped at $210, $280, $380, $480, and $210 for the front-wheel drive and $210, $280, $480, $580 and $210 for the all-wheel drive.
Given the H6 GT is virtually mechanically identical to the H6, we’d be surprised if there was any significant difference.
As for real-world fuel consumption, we saw an indicated 10.8L/100km following our time with the H6 GT. That included 300km of city and highway driving, as well as filming the video review which sees the vehicle idling and being driven in a spirited manner.
That’s still over 2.0L/100km up on Haval’s offical 8.4L/100km claim, which is disappointing given it’s also fitted with idle stop/start tech. More city driving would likely have bumped that figure up further.
GWM Haval has been smart in how it has positioned the H6 GT in Australia – it basically has no competition.
It blends the value and practicality of the standard H6 SUV with the style and exclusivity that comes with the SUV coupe form, and no doubt this combination will find favour with local buyers. In fact, the brand’s local arm says its first allocation is already accounted for.
However, gripes with the normal H6 carry over here, and the GT’s not insignificant premium amplifies these somewhat.
The clumsy DCT is perhaps my biggest complaint, followed by the uncomfortable driving position as a close second. Given these are two major parts of the driving experience, it’s a key area for improvement.
Other pain points include the underdone infotainment software and reliance on touchscreen-based controls for key vehicle functions including drive modes and climate controls. It’s unnecessarily convoluted and annoying.
Finally, it’s a shame there’s no real changes to the oily bits to reflect the sportier skew. Sure, the exhaust booster and grippier Michelin tyres are welcome, but the soft suspension and light steering feel are straight out of the normal H6 – it’s anything but sporty to drive.
A solid, if uninspiring effort from the Chinese brand.
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