With the South African launch of the GWM's upmarket SUV brand, Haval, around the corner, we've been given the opportunity to view the marque's impressive progress in the metal, at the Shanghai Motorshow.
South Africans had a brief taste of Haval in 2013, when the marque's H6 SUV was introduced in South Africa under the GWM brand, but little more happened in subsequent years due to management and organisational changes, as well as the impact of the weakening exchange rate. Now under full Chinese stewardship, the brand looks set for a rebirth in South Africa at the end of May 2017. The details of what South Africans can expect then will follow later, but for now let's have a look at Haval's reveals at the Shanghai Motorshow.
Haval HB-03 Concept
Undoubtedly a headturner, the production version is promised to be very similar to this HB-03 concept.
The Haval brand only markets SUVs and already offers a staggering number of models in the Chinese market, but expansion into more niche segments is coming. Design Director Pierre Leclerq used the reveal of the dramatic HB-03 to hint at a production model that would be faithful to the design of this blue concept. It is similar to BMW's X6 and Mercedes-Benz's GLE Coupe in overall profile and its development was evidently driven by Leclerq, the ex-BMW man who penned the original X6.
Leclerq stressed that for a brand with upmarket ambitions, it was important to build desirable vehicles, not just practical ones. He suggests that the HB-03 previews the design direction Haval will take in the short term. Although no powertrain details were shared, the HB-03 does feature a hybrid drivetrain under its macho bodywork.
The increasingly upmarket "lifestyle" positioning of the brand was also evident in the Haval-branded store at the Shanghai Motorshow, where one could buy several premium Haval products, ranging from shoes, to sunglasses and just about everything in between.
Stylish new H6 will likely continue Haval's reign as the top-selling SUV brand in China.
The brand's most important new product on show was the all-new H6, a car that will replace a current top-seller and the vehicle that has made Haval a financially very successful company.
The newcomer again represents a decisive step upmarket, with premium finishes and all the latest technologies, such as cross-traffic alert, lane-change assist etc. being present. Like most of Haval's model line-up, it is offered in red- and blue-label specification, with the latter featuring slightly sportier design themes. Underneath, however, they're pretty much identical. Compared with the current H6, the new model is larger, offering even more legroom and boot space than before.
H6 cabin brings premium segment finishes and technologies to the mass (SUV) market.
But the biggest talking point will be the dramatic interior, with its sweeping, minimalist fascia, interesting ventilation outlet design and high-resolution display screens. In China 2 turbopetrol engines will initially be offered, with the 145 kW/305N.m 2.0-litre unit likely to account for most of the sales. A 1.3-litre powerplant is also on offer, with just over 100 kW being the quoted power figure. A 7-speed dual-clutch transmission will be offered, too.
When will it come to South Africa? The H6 (or a variant of it) is certain to arrive in South Africa in the future, but according to the local representatives it won, t be soon.
We previously reported on the local launch line-up here.