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Friday / 24 May 2024
HomeFeaturesHaval H6 Hybrid review – The best Haval on the market

Haval H6 Hybrid review – The best Haval on the market

The recently-unveiled Haval H6 hybrid would be my first pick if I had the choice of any Haval on the South African market.

Like its siblings, it’s a well-rounded SUV with a few imperfections, but it’s the new semi-electric powertrain that really stole the show.

Unexpectedly, it’s the most expensive vehicle the Chinese manufacturer sells in South Africa, coming in at R669,950, but as usual, if you had to buy a competitor in the same league from one of the European brands, you’d be looking at spending at least double this amount.

Hybrid halo

The H6 HEV – short for hybrid-electric vehicle – boasts a semi-electric driveline that goes beyond the usual fuel-saving goal to offer other hybrid-only abilities such as electric assistance for faster acceleration, brake energy regeneration, as well as fully-electric driving for short stints at suburban speeds.

This foundation combines Haval’s in-house 1.5-litre, turbo-petrol engine with a tiny electric motor and battery that works together to put out 179kW and 530Nm, thus making this model the most powerful Haval in the country, too, despite not looking as sporty is its GT-badged counterpart.

The system works with an innovative two-speed “dedicated hybrid transmission” with seamless gear shifts and compliant suspension that handles the bumpy South African roads very well.

What makes the H6 HEV better than its namesakes is the multifaceted nature of its underpinnings, offering performance, quietness, and fuel efficiency beyond what the petrol-only models are capable of.

The HEV is the only H6 with launch control and despite being front-wheel drive only – presumably because of the hybrid battery taking up the space where the rear drive components would be – it hooks up well for a claimed 0-100km/h of 8.5 seconds.

It’s remarkably easy for the big family SUV to burn rubber from a standstill and with the generous torque it can even struggle for grip at 40km/h and above if you suddenly jump on the accelerator.

Naturally, performance isn’t the goal of this Haval and while the power and precise handling is nice to have, the other half of the HEV is even better.

Clicking the engine start button isn’t met by a whirring petrol block that first has to idle at high revs to warm up, but rather a pleasant “ding” and a notification on the driver’s display that says the vehicle is ready for action, allowing the sizeable H6 to crawl out of the driveway at all hours of the morning on battery power alone without waking so much as a mouse.

The main pain point for the customers of this particular brand, fuel consumption, is then claimed to be a low 5.2l/100km, and you better believe it, the battery-motivated drivetrain has made it possible to get a reading even lower than this – depending on your route.

As with the other Havals, the H6 HEV does not show lifetime average fuel usage, only the average fuel usage of the particular trip you are currently taking.

With the electric assistance, I managed to score a low 5.1l/100km on my 15.8km morning commute by being sensitive with accelerator inputs to keep the SUV mostly running on electrons in the city with the petrol engine providing assistance on the highway for around half the journey.

In other situations, the Haval sipped between 7.0-9.0l/100km, so it’s still the most efficient H6 I’ve tested out of the Super Luxury, the GT, and the HEV.

Admittedly, when the HEV was turned on again after a long day in the parking lot the battery was still depleted and the engine had to charge it which did affect fuel usage, but it only had to juice up for a few minutes before being capable of running in tandem with the combustion engine again.

The petrol motor is also a bit louder when in use than other hybrid vehicles which offer pure-electric driving, but it’s not overbearing.

Classy cabin

What sets the H6 HEV apart from the rest of the range inside the cabin is, well, very little.

It provides attractive leather seats and a minimalist instrument panel housing a round gearshift selector finished in chrome, with a singular row of buttons sitting below the 12.3-inch central infotainment display which itself provides wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, steering wheel heating, ambient lighting, 360-degree cameras, and a heads-up display are standard, too, and it can damn near drive itself with programmes such as lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control with intelligent dodge, traffic jam assist, and blind-spot monitoring.

There are some features that are exclusive to the hybrid such as seat ventilation, reverse parking memory, and launch control; and the 10.25-inch digital cluster also shows HEV-only graphics including power draw on the battery and energy regeneration whilst driving, alongside the intelligent drive modes including BEV, tandem, and parallel driving, idle charging, and more.

In addition, thanks to the larger battery than the usual 12V in the standard models, the HEV can power the in-cabin electronics while the petrol motor is switched off which is useful for applications such as keeping on the climate control while you’re waiting for someone to run into the shops.

It’s unique in the styling department, too, sporting black 19-inch alloys, a side fin, a redesigned brake light integrated into the boot spoiler, and a model-specific grille that stretches from corner to corner.

Another area where the H6 family performs well is cabin space, offering a long passenger cell that translates to class-leading legroom and a sizeable boot, albeit a bit shallower than its rivals.

The homogeneity of the H6 range, however, means the HEV still has the same quirks as the other Havals.

This includes things such as not having a physical volume button and an infotainment system that is clunky to use as it presents dozens of sub-menus which only have one adjustable setting that could have been accessed a few clicks earlier without affecting the software’s overall usability.

For instance, there is no button to access the heated and ventilated seats, so you must navigate through four menus to get to these settings which often led to the features not being used at all.

Similarly, clicking “Auto Park”– which is different from reverse memory – was met by the home screen again, as the car doesn’t have fully-automatic parking but does have a button for it.

Verdict

Haval’s massive success in South Africa is no fluke. The Chinese manufacturer builds solid products with pricing that’s just competitive enough to have you easily forgive and forget the smaller annoyances.

The latest H6 HEV is no different, following the same principle as its siblings which is making high-end features more accessible to the masses.

It brings the benefits of a new-energy technologies – low fuel usage, fully-electric driving, and proper performance – without the hassle of having to plug it into a wall, as well as a cabin with a premium atmosphere that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to obtain.

If you’re not too bothered about having all-wheel drive, the H6 HEV is one of the best SUVs you’ll find for the budget.


Haval H6 HEV

 


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