After enduring multiple delays, Chinese SUV brand Haval has launched in Australia with a three-model line-up.
But unlike its corporate cousin Great Wall (which Haval is keen to distance itself from, given that brand's troublesome distribution by local importer Ateco), don't expect bare-bones, bargain-priced offerings.
Instead, Haval wants to win over customers with high equipment levels and build quality. Pricing, as it were, isn't all that far from Haval's Korean and Japanese competitors.
A five-year/100,000km warranty and five-year roadside assistance and fixed price servicing are also expected to win over buyers, but Haval is banking big on generous standard equipment levels to bring success - and help it achieve its ultimate aim of becoming the number one SUV brand in Australia.
The range starts with the H2 small SUV, offered in 2WD and AWD guise with all models powered by a 110kW/210Nm 1.5 litre turbo petrol inline four.
Six-speed manual and automatic transmissions will be offered, and the H2 can be had in Premium or up-spec LUX grades.
Pricing starts at $26,490 for the base H2 Premium 2WD manual, rising to $30,990 for the H2 LUX AWD. Those wanting all-paw grip should take note, however: the AWD H2 is strictly a manual-only affair.
Targeted primarily at women, the H2 can also be optioned in a range of two-tone paint schemes for an extra $750 and boasts, as standard, keyless entry and ignition, a reversing camera/sensors, auto headlamps/wipers and cruise control.
All H2 models also get an eight-inch colour touchscreen infotainment display, with Bluetooth connectivity. Go for the LUX grade and you get pleather upholstery, a powered driver's seat, heated front seats and dual-zone climate control.
Stability control, traction control, ABS six airbags and anti-whiplash headrests are standard, with Haval targeting a five-star ANCAP crash test rating.
Haval says the H8 was benchmarked against cars like the Mazda CX-5, Toyota Kluger and Hyundai Santa Fe, however its five-seat-only configuration means it's more a rival for the CX-5 than the latter two.
Nevertheless with a starting price of $41,990 for the 2WD H8 Premium, the H8 is actually more expensive than either the Hyundai or the Kluger.
It comes packed with gear though, and with a 160kW/324Nm turbo petrol inline four sending power either to the rear wheels or all four, the H8 isn't wanting for power or torque - though it's outgunned on both by the Kluger.
In the entry-level H8 Premium there's leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, 18-inch alloys, tri-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, paddle shifters, a sunroof and keyless entry/ignition.
A 7-inch colour touchscreen is the main infotainment interface, and incorporates sat nav, Bluetooth phone/audio connectivity, USB audio inputs and AM/FM/CD audio.
Step up to the H8 LUX, and you gain heated front and rear seats, 19-inch alloys an air purifier, massage front seats, xenon headlamps, power tailgate, power folding mirrors, cargo rails for the boot, and "valet" controls for the driver to adjust the passenger seat's position.
Rear entertainment screens and front massage seats are available as options on the H8.
The H9 is the largest Haval offering, and is intended to take on Toyota's Prado in the large 4x4 segment. However, like the H8, it's petrol-only, and shares its 160kW 2.0 litre turbo petrol four with its smaller stablemate.
That may hurt its chances in a segment dominated by diesels, but Haval promises that a diesel solution is in the pipeline.
Like the H2 and H8, two grades are available - Premium and LUX. There's no 2WD drivetrain option for the hulking H9 though, with a full-time 4x4 system with dual-range transfer case and six-speed auto taking power to the ground.
Its spec sheet mostly mirrors that of the H8, with the Premium receiving keyless entry and ignition, tri-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, cruise control and trip computer.
The H9 LUX kicks things up a notch, with plenty of features that aren't offered in competitors like the Prado. Features like an air purifier, electrically-folding third-row seating, powered front seats with a massage function and heating/ventilation, and adaptive xenon headlamps.
The H2, H8 and H9 ranges are all available to order now, though right now Haval only has four dealerships in its network - one in Sydney, one in Melbourne, one in Geelong and one in Perth.
The company expects to add a further 11 dealers to that list by the end of the year, however, with 25 expected to be part of the Haval network before the end of 2016.
- Premium 2WD 6MT - $26,490
- Premium 2WD 6AT - $28,490
- Premium AWD 6MT - $28,990
- LUX 2WD 6MT - $28,490
- LUX 2WD 6AT - $30,490
- LUX AWD 6MT - $30,990
- Two-tone paint / two-tone seats - $750
- Premium 2WD 6AT - $41,990
- Premium AWD 6AT - $44,490
- LUX AWD 6AT - $48,990
- Rear DVD - $1500
- Heated/Vented/Massage seats (Premium) - $1000
- Premium 4WD 6AT - $46,490
- LUX 4WD 6AT - $50,990
- Rear DVD - $1500
All prices do not include on-road costs
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