Picture a Chinese car. Without saying anymore, chances are it doesn’t look like this.
The new Haval H6GT is a swish coupe SUV that appears to have resulted from a Lamborghini Urus and a Toyota RAV4 getting a little too close. And here’s the thing – it’s made by one of four brands managed by China’s Great Wall Motors (GWM).
For the same reason that Wish.com still exists, it’s easy to see why many people are beginning to be swayed by these new-fangled Haval cars. A quick look around reveals more and more are making their way onto Canberra’s roads. But is it more than just a pretty face? Or will the stitches come out within two hours?
To find out, I borrowed one from the National Capital dealership in Tuggeranong for two days.
Low expectations continue to crumble when I open the door. There are cars from the well-established haunt of quality – namely, Japan – that feel less well-crafted than this one inside. The tasteful use of suede, carbon fibre and embossed red GT logos only make it feel more special.
In this base Lux model, a quick look through the cabin revealed we also have heated seats, several drive modes, cameras all around, and a swathe of safety systems.
I was most impressed, however, when I pressed the start button. There’s a 2-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine under the bonnet, and somehow, by the time it gets to the exhaust pipes, it roars in a way that would put some sports cars to shame.
The same can’t be said of the indicator noise, which sounds like someone tapping an empty paint bucket.
I was determined to find a more worrying sort of squeak or rattle by this point, so I aimed for every pothole I could find, which is not hard at the moment in the ACT. I thought my aim was badly off for some of them because the suspension was met with no discernible thump.
It feels very eager to drive too, helped by the fact it’s also very light, weighing in at just over a tonne and a half.
I was just beginning to think that the steering was a touch lifeless when finally a true annoyance reared its head.
On a drizzly Canberra weekend, mid-corner, the H6GT can be a bit scary, and that’s because you’re either given no power or all of the power. I found myself driving around corners as if there was an egg on the accelerator pedal and I was trying not to squash it.
This wasn’t just in Race mode, either, when everything is dialled up to savage. I tried it in Sport, then Normal and finally Eco, looking for smooth take-off that would place me in the sweet spot between a tortoise and hare, but it just wasn’t there.
If I were to put my car enthusiast hat on, I would say this is the exact combination that makes the Toyota 86 or any of those other small and simple sports cars so much fun. The party tricks lie within the speed limit, so you can make the most of it most of the time.
This at least explains my smirk at the wheel. But I am conscious of those who just bought a family SUV and are now trying not to ski into every kerb.
If the technology lets you even get remotely close.
Not only did Haval look at what was going on everywhere else and added two screens – which turns a cursory press of a button into a full-on hunt through an intricate web of digital menus – but they also included lane-keeping assistance.
If there was ever a gimmick, lane-keeping assistance is it – if you need it, you shouldn’t be driving at all. Fortunately, in the Haval, you can turn it off forever, but every time you start the car, you must also deactivate ‘Emergency Lane-Keeping’.
The trouble is that to most people, ’emergency’ means “I am literally on the cusp of a cliff, help me or I will die”, but not to Haval. It means you got within half a metre of a white line.
So, in short, the H6GT has it all. It’s just not terribly refined. And you continue thinking that until you get to the price.
This Lux model starts at $40,990, while the Ultra adds a head-up display, ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, automatic parking and Michelin tyres for $46,990. There is nothing else out there that manages to jam so much in.
But before you think Wish.com again, there is also the seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. Clearly, a vote of confidence, even if a warranty is only as good as the company offering it and the jury is still out on Haval.
But the way it’s going, China could be the new South Korea.
2023 Haval H6GT Lux
- $40,990 plus driveaway costs
- 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol, 150 kW / 320 Nm
- 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
- 0-100 km/h in 7.8 seconds
- 1570 kg.
This car was provided for testing by National Capital GWM Haval in Tuggeranong. Region has no commercial arrangement with National Capital GWM Haval.