What is it?

How things change.

When I was a kid an H2 was a grade of pencil.

Now, as people hunting down a good SUV would know, H2 is one of Chinese auto giant Haval’s range.

It’s a compact number, scrabbling to get a foothold in an extremely competitive market sector.

In its favour are its looks, price, build quality and level of equipment, so there’s real hope for it – albeit in a country slow to react to unfamiliar brands.

Remember how Hyundai’s first arrivals were received 31 years ago?

In China, Haval is the top-selling SUV, with more sales in its home country than the combined total of all vehicles in Australia’s automotive market.

The main factor in car buying is appearance and in that regard the H2 should do well.

It’s one of the most attractive in its class, with a wide chromed grille sporting a prominent red Haval badge, LED daytime lights, 18-inch alloys, bright roof rails and a profile reminiscent of a scaled-down Range Rover.

The paint finish is exceptional and the car looks even better in optional two-tone.

It’s fairly tall, easy for aging folk to slide in and out of and it has a top class interior.

The cabin features a soft console and dashboard, and buyers can choose between piano black and titanium silver and red or blue ambient red night lighting, plus a selection of seat colours.

Stainless steel scuff plates are a nice touch.

The steering wheel has leather trim, the seating infinitely adjustable and there’s a good, clear mix of analogue and digital display, including tyre pressure, fuel consumption – but  no digital speedo read-out.

 

What’s it cost?

Standard fare in the H2 Premium on test (there’s a Lux model as well) includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connection and USB/SD ports, a good audio system, a glass sunroof, cruise control, auto-on lights and wipers,  and a reversing camera, the latter with so-so resolution and a tad tardy in operation.

It also comes with one of my pet peeves: an electronic park brake – but that’s just me.

Satellite navigation used to be a $990 option, but is now part of the deal.

If you’re a smartphone addict, well, bad luck: there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Space is no problem front or rear and there’s ample room in the cargo hold as well LED reading lights, cup holders and door pockets.

The back seats are 60/40 splits in case you need more cargo room and the spare wheel is full-sized. Hooray.

It all adds up to a lot of vehicle for $24,990 drive-away, or for $2000 more there’s the Lux, which adds leather seats, puddle lights, folding mirrors, a more powerful audio system and climate control.

 

What’s it go like?

Power is from a 110kW/210Nm 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine linked to a six-speed automatic gearbox.

While performance is pretty decent on the move, there can be a second or two of nothingness, aka turbo-lag, if you suddenly turn the wick up, especially soon after start-up.

The H2 runs on an all-independent suspension system which, linked with the big Kumho-shod wheels gives a pleasant, compliant ride.

It has a comparatively low ground clearance at 135mm, but it never bottomed on rough roads.

Steering is by a fairly quick electric system.

Average fuel consumption was 8.6L/100km. Not bad, not wonderful.

A considerable plus for the brand is its five-year/100,000km warranty with roadside assistance, one of the best in the business.

The H2 was recently awarded a five-star safety rating.

The safety bits include front, side and curtain airbags, reversing radar, the usual alphabet of electronic driver aids and an auto dimming rear view mirror.

 

What we like?

  • Styling
  • Cabin comforts
  • Pleasant ride
  • Impressive warranty
  • Dollar value
  • Build quality

 

What we don’t?

  • Accelerator response
  • Electronic parking brake
  • Average fuel consumption
  • Slow reversing camera

 

The bottom line?

A bright light in a sea of lookalike SUVs. The Haval H2 is a comprehensively equipped, nicely finished small vehicle at a hard to beat price.

Haval H2, priced from $24,990 driveaway
  • 9/10
    Looks - 9.0/10
  • 7.5/10
    Performance - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Safety - 8.0/10
  • 7.5/10
    Thirst - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Practicality - 8.0/10
  • 8/10
    Comfort - 8.0/10
  • 7/10
    Tech - 7.0/10
  • 8.8/10
    Value - 8.8/10
8/10

Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.