What is it?

H2 is the smallest of the models offered locally by Chinese carmaker Haval.

Haval for those unfamiliar with the brand is the name under which Great Wall markets its SUVs (as in Great Wall utes).

It’s taken us a long time to catch up with this model and we were excited to get behind the wheel after the thrill of driving the larger, dynamic H6 — the best Chinese car yet.

Just for the record the ugly red badge on the front that we dislike actually carries a hidden meaning.

Apparently Havals come in two flavours overseas, with red and blue badges — Red Label cars usually have more conservative styling while Blue Label vehicles feature sportier, more aggressive styling.

Given Aussies penchant for sports models, we’d suggest Haval might look to the latter for future releases?

What’s it cost?

Launched with five models in 2015 the range has been rationalised to just two.

There’s the entry Premium from $24,990 or upmarket Luxury from $26,990 — both prices driveaway.

They’re both front-wheel drive and both come with a conventional six-speed auto.

Our test car was the entry Premium.

Standard features include cloth trim, a small sunroof, keyless entry and start, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, plus an auto dimming rear view miorror, Bluetooth with audio streaming, reversing camera with rear parking sensors and an 8.0-inch touch screen.

The Luxury adds faux leather, climate air and a power adjust driver’s seat, with lumbar adjustment, as well as a kerb side camera to assist with parking.

The phoenix-shaped headlights house 15 LEDs, 10 for daytime running lights and five for the high visibility turn signal.

Importantly, the H2 comes with a full five-star safety rating from ANCAP.

It boasts six airbags, electronic stability control, active front headrests and a tyre pressure monitoring system — but misses out on the latesest advances in accident prevention such as auto emergency braking.

What’s it go like?

Like the H6 it’s powerd by a 1.5-ltre turbo charged four cylinder petrol engine, but this one doesn’t produce anywhere near as much get and go.

Rated at 110kW of power and 210Nm of torque, it’s paired exclusivey with a conventional six-speed automatic, where the H6 scores a more advanced twin clutch style auto.

The 1.5 delivers plenty of punch, but throttle reponse is really peaky as turbo boost kicks in and out.

In fact, it takes a couple of seconds for the throttle to actually respond after punching the accelerator.

We’d further suggest the boffins back home spend some time smoothing it out as the car tends to become tiring to drive.

The electric steering is light but a bit touchy and the turning circle far too wide, often turning U-turns into three-point turns.

Bring on the Blue Label.

The five-seat soft roader rides on 18-inch alloys, with flashy red brake calipers and a full size alloy spare in the boot, that’s fitted with 235/55 series Kumho rubber.

The ride is reasonably comfortable most of the time, but the suspension transmits too many of the little irregularities of poor roads.

You can opt to change gears manually, but only via the gear selector — there’s no change paddles in this one.

Also note it takes 95RON premium unleaded and is rated ar 9.0L/100km.

We were getting 8.3 after close to 700km.

Getting into the car for the first time the driver’s seat feels as though it is mounted a little too high and we bumped our head a couple of times.

The seating itself is supportive and comfortable, with a wheel that is both height and reach adjustable.

Like the H6 fit and finish are surprisingly good, with the use of soft touch material for the dash.

The instrumentation is attractive and easy to read, but could do with a digital speed readout (another suggestion perhaps).

The Premium model misses out on climate control, but the rather odd aircon is adusted in a series of seven increments.

The tyre pressure monitor in our test vehicle regularly flashed warnings, but seemed to settle down after several minutes.

Our test vehicle was fitted with satellite navigation, but we discovered later that’s a $1000 option.

What we like?

  • Looks (minus the badge)
  • Fit and finish
  • Generously equipped
  • Large inutive touchscreen
  • Clear rear view camera
  • Five-year/100,000km warranty

 

What we don’t like?

  • Too expensive
  • Peaky performance
  • Small boot
  • Satellite navigation a $1000 option

The bottom line?

The car’s okay. The trouble is for the same sort of money you can buy a Mitsubishi ASX. Haval needs to tick some boxes and sharpen its pencil to become competitive.

CHECKOUT: Haval H6: the best Chinese car so far

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.