The Chinese are great at many things. China is basically a Business Process Outsourcing startup posing as a country with one party rule, exploiting cheap labour for decades to produce every last imaginable thing on the planet. From phones to motorbikes to toys and cheap knock-offs, they’ve managed to dominate global manufacturing in every industry, except one – cars. Until now.
Recent years have seen a huge surge in the quality, price point competitiveness and overall performance of Chinese cars, from both domestic and export brands. Part of that comes from buying out established European manufacturers, as Geely did with Volvo – others resort to poaching the best designers and engineers that Europe has to offer. That's exactly what Great Wall did.
Exported models now officially branded Haval, Great Wall has come a long way from the days of making basic, bare-bones but surprisingly capable pickups. With the ex-head of design at BMW on their payroll, their latest range has taken on a Germanic feel, backed up by significantly refined drivetrain and upscale electronic goodies. The most striking of the lot is the all new H6 Coupe, infused with a bunch of equipment that you'd honestly be surprised by when you meet it for the first time.
The H6 Coupe is Haval's rendition of what a mid-size sporty crossover would be if the Chinese ran the world. The design has elements of Audi, Range Rover, BMW and Mazda - the result is striking, with taut proportions, a sharply raked-back roof, floating pillars and nice proportions. It'll definitely turn heads because people will be confused trying to figure out what you're driving. Stylishly in-your face daytime running lights and an impressively sleek snout gives it a ton of presence.
Things are much better on the performance front. The 2.0 litre turbocharged Direct Injection 4 cylinder motor puts out 194 HP and 232 lb-ft torque, which gives the H6 a decided spring in its step with help from the 6-speed Getrag dual clutch automatic. Response could be a little better but overall the dynamics of the torquey engine is up there with the best that the Japs can offer. Even though it's front wheel drive, the H6 shines off-road as well, finding enough grunt and grip in nearly all kinds of terrain. It even comes with Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control, alongside the typical Brake Assist, ESP, Traction Control and electronic Tyre Pressure Monitoring System. Smaller wheels would make it a much more fun experience in the dirt – it's not that the H6 has a particularly harsh ride but the big and admittedly good looking 19 inch wheels do nothing to dampen the mid-size SUV any further.
Not that you'd be complaining much sitting inside the nicely padded, semi-luxurious interior of the H6. That sleek roofline houses a panoramic roof that extends all the way above the rear passengers' headrests and opens halfway with tilt and slide options. Faux leather on the (front power) seats and multifunction wheel give it a touch of class, and while the plastics could be a bit better for the segment the H6 is competing in, there are absolutely no complaints about the ergonomic, modern layout of the dash. The rear gets centrally placed air-conditioning vents, while the front gets dual zone climate control and a 7-inch entertainment system that switches to a kerbside camera beneath the left mirror when needed, conveniently eliminating one of the biggest blind spots on the car. An array of proximity sensors are a useful addition, helping get the H6 out of tight spots. Safety is highly prioritised as well – all directional airbags keep you safe if anything goes wrong.
The H6 is a near-perfect balance of on-road comfort and off-road ability, and considering the typical requirements of SUV users in Bangladesh, it's a fine vehicle in ways that belie its origin from a nation that is still relatively new to car manufacturing. Its rivals are plentiful and there are benefits to be had from getting a bargain buy such as this – priced at 41 lakh Taka, the H6 is massive value for money compared to its Japanese or South Korean counterparts. However, considering we can't really say much about its reliability and longevity at the moment, it might be prudent to approach the H6 after considering the 2 year (or 50,000 km) bumper to bumper warranty. Other than the question mark hovering over long-term use, the Haval H6 Coupe does many of the things you ask of it, some of it exceptionally well. It's abundantly clear that the Chinese are on the right track, and they did it in half the time it took for the Koreans while leaving the Indians in a trail of dirt and dust.
What does the boss think?
Acceleration is surprisingly brisk. Enough to get you smiling. Could be because you don't expect a new brand called Haval to be this fluid. The traction control is not something you really want to bother turning off but if you want to floor it and watch dust clouds form, this will definitely do it, at least initially as the “switched off” traction control still secretly tries to reign you in. On paved roads, it usually refuses to break loose no matter how much you floor it, courtesy of the nanny-ing traction control. But do you really want to hoon around in this? No. You're better off flooring the throttle gently and watch the speedo numbers rise. The suspension soaks up the bumps well and on the road, it stays planted for a car of its size. And it IS large. Even though it doesn't look it, it's dimensions are similar to the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV. One gripe is that the rear window is so small it is nearly impossible to see the world out of it. All for the sake of design. But then there is the well-appointed reverse cam. Would I daily drive it? Heck yeah. -- Ehsanur Raza Ronny, Editor of Shift, Maker of Monstrous Dust Clouds and Painter of Nissan Sunnys
Engine: GW4C20 2.0 turbocharged direct-injection 4 cylinder petrol (194 HP, 232 lb-ft torque), 58 litre fuel tank.
Gearbox: 6-speed Getrag DCT dual clutch (wet), Front Wheel Drive.
Brakes: All wheel disc-brakes (ventilated front, solid disc rear) with ABS and Brake Assist.
Interior: Dual zone climate control air-conditioning, rear AC vents, artificial leather seats, multifunction steering wheel, electronic anti-glare rearview mirror, 3.5 inch LCD driver's display, 7-inch touch screen infotainment system with Bluetooth/audio streaming/7-speakers, kerbside and reverse camera, parking sensors, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, Electronic Stability Program with Traction Control and Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control, 6 dual front/curtain airbags, panoramic roof with tilt/slide option and power sunshade, cruise-control, push-start, fold-down rear seats and power-adjustable front seats.
Exterior: 225/65 R19 wheels with 19 inch 5-spoke alloys, 2720mm wheelbase and 170mm ground clearance, LED taillights and Daytime Running Lights, low-output Xenon self-levelling headlights, automatic wipers, keyless entry, rear privacy glass, Haval-branded high-mounted third brake light, rear spoiler.
PRICE: TK41 Lakh
PHOTOS: Farhan Ahmed