There’s a new range of cars in Australia. Welcome, HAVAL SUVs from China. It launches here with its 2015 HAVAL H2, H8, and H9.

IT DOESN’T HAPPEN often, but every now and again a new brand enters the Australian market. The last to try was Opel, who retired hurt shortly afterwards.

Now we have HAVAL, and yes that’s all capital letters. HAVAL only manufacture SUVs, and claims to be a premium SUV manufacutuer.

Let’s cut straight to the chase.  The concept of a premium Chinese manufacturer would, at first glance, appear to be a contradiction in terms.  This is Australia, where the Japanese rule and even Korean manufacturers likes Hyundai are battling entrenched predjudice.  And the Chinese?  You see “German designed and built” in advertising..not so much Chinese.  In fact, if we’re honest, the Chinese are known for rather the opposite of German quality, an opinion not helped by rather ordinary and very cheap cars from the likes of Chery and Great Wall, which is a sister brand to HAVAL.

So that’s what HAVAL is launching into, and they know that.   But they’re doing it anyway, so you’d have to suppose the cars are pretty damn good.  Well, we’ve not driven one yet, but let’s take a look at some snippets from the press release:

“I’ve been very impressed by the professionalism of the company and even more so by the quality of the product. I’ve been in this business 30 years and I think the HAVAL range of premium SUVs represents a new era in Australian motoring.” (Berwick HAVAL Dealer Principal Nick Strauss).

Across in Perth, Autostrada HAVAL boss Paul Lombardi said he expected prospective customers to be convinced as quickly as he was to the value proposition of the HAVAL range.

“The quality is evident as soon as you sit in the cars. It didn’t take too long driving the pre-production cars that the next big thing in Australian motoring is about to arrive,” he said.

Some choice quotes there. More from HAVAL Managing Director, Parker Shi: “Australia is a country where SUVs sales have doubled in the past five years. We are confident our combination of quality product and outstanding value for money will prove popular with Australian customers.”


HAVAL was originally directly a part of Great Wall Motors, and the cars were originally known as Great Wall HAVAL when they were brought to market in 2002 with immediate success in China. Today, the company claims to be the “top-selling SUV brand in China for 13 consecutive years”. There have also been some motorsports success, including several top-10 finishes in the Dakar Rally. 


In March 2013 HAVAL became independent, presumably from Great Wall. It has always specialised in SUVs, and says: “While other manufacturers spread their resources, Haval specialises in making the finest premium SUVs. It’s what we have always done and what we will always continue to do.”

“In 2013, we sold our 1 millionth vehicle. In 2014 we posted a 23 per cent increase in sales over 2013 and made the top 10 for the list of global SUV sales for the first time, ahead of brands such as BMW, Land Rover, Mitsubishi and Mercedes Benz.”

HAVAL are also looking to the future with concept cars like this:


The HAVAL cars

HAVAL will launch with three models, the H2, H9 and H9.  Obviously no H3, because we all still remember the Hummer (which also had an H2 model, which wasn’t sold in Australia).


A compact SUV, available in both 2WD and AWD. There are two trim specs, Premium and LUX.

  image129723_bThere is a standard reversing camera and, in a nice move, a tyre pressure monitoring system and ISOXFIX child seat restraints.  But with a ground clearance of 133mm the H2 is not going very far off-road at all.


Fast Facts:

  • Dimensions – 4335 (length) x 1814 (width) x 1695  (height)
  • Engine – 110kW / 210Nm petrol 1.5L turbo
  • Transmisson – 6 speed manual (2WD, AWD), 6-speed auto (2WD)
  • Seats 5
  • Ground clearance 133mm
  • Spare tyre – full size

Pricing (plus on-roads)

H2 Premium

  • 2WD manual $26,490
  • 2WD auto $28,490
  • AWD manual $28,990

H2 Lux

  • 2WD manual $28,490
  • 2WD auto $30,490
  • AWD manual $30,990


HAVAL say the “H8 is HAVAL’s premium large urban SUV” and again there’s two trim levels, Premium and LUX. The Premium is either 2WD or AWD, and the LUX is AWD only.

The H8 is around 450mm longer than the H2, and 150mm wider. There’s a petrol engine which makes 160kW, paddle shifts, heated/cooled front seats, an eight-inch touch screen, leather seats, electric parkbrake and an on the LUX, an electric tailgate as well as adaptive headlights.


On the off-road front there’s hill descent control and traction control. Interestingly, traction control is not listed as an H2 feature, which is perhaps an error because we’ve never seen a car with stability control that doesn’t also have traction control. The vehicle is usually rear-drive, but can bias torque to the front wheels. This is a welcome depature from the usual front-drive bias in such vehicles because it should lead to sharper handling.



Fast Facts:

  • Dimensions – 4806 (length) x 1975 (width) x 1794 (height)
  • Engine – 160kW /324Nm 2.0L petrol
  • Transmisson –  6-speed auto
  • Seats 5
  • Spare tyre – full size

Pricing (plus on-roads)

H8 Premium

  • AWD auto $41,990
  • AWD auto $44,990

H8 Lux

  • AWD auto $48,990


The H9 is a 7-seater with a seperate chassis and low range powertrain. The two trim levels are again Premium and LUX.  The H9 has the same engine as the H8, and there is only a six-speed automatic.

Premium models get a 4WD system that offers automatic (torque distribution front/rear), 2WD, 4WD with a locked centre differential, and low range (locked centre differential).

For the LUX there’s a terrain management system called All Terrain Control with modes of Auto, 4 Low, Sport, Sand, Snow and Mud.  Whether that’s better than the lower-spec model will be an interesting question. 

Other features include paddle shifts, an 8″ display  a driving condition monitor, a 220V power outlet, powered third row on the LUX, a car locating function and an electronic differential lock (not clear if this is cross-axle or center).

Here is a video of an H9 in action.

That is impressive. You will not see a BMW or similar doing that, and the car can clearly get power to the ground in off-road conditions.

Fast Facts

  • Dimensions – 4856 (length) x 1926 (width) x 1900 (height)
  • Engine – 160kW /324Nm 2.0L petrol
  • Transmisson –  6-speed auto
  • Seats 7
  • Spare tyre – full size

Pricing (plus onroads)

H9 Premium

  • AWD auto $46,490

H9 Lux

  • AWD auto $50,990


Where can you see a HAVAL?

Four dealers so far:

  • Berwick HAVAL (Victoria)
  • King’s HAVAL in Geelong (Victoria)
  • Lansvale HAVAL in Sydney (NSW)
  • Autostrada HAVAL in Perth (WA)

We’re told there are plans for 10 dealers by the end of 2015 (a mere couple of months now) and at least 25 by the end of 2016.


HAVAL has set itself a big target by stating they are a premium SUV manufacturer, because that is the territory of BMW, Lexus, Land Rover, Audi and Mercedes. The specifications don’t quite support the claim – all the basics are there, but there’s nothing like the advanced tech you find in top end models like lane depature assist or AEB. Only the LUX H9 gets a terrain management system, but that’s nothing special these days. There’s not a word on towing, no variable-height suspension and there’s only a 40/60 rear seat split, not a 3-way split as you find in XC90 or Discovery. There is nothing to suggest the vehicles have any more features than a mid-spec brand already in Australia.

We’ll need to drive the vehicles to find out more, but clearly HAVAL are doing something right to have reached its lofty position in China, and launch here with confidence. Speaking of which, Chief Marketing Officer Tim Smith said: “We are committed to providing new levels of customer service with a range of vehicles that offer outstanding value for money. Every HAVAL comes with a 5 year, 100,000km warranty, 5 years of roadside assistance and 5 year HAVAL Service Price Guarantee.”

A five-year guarantee is not unusual, but it is not the norm, so good on HAVAL. And safety?

“Every HAVAL is designed to achieve 5 star ANCAP rating and we are actively working with ANCAP to realise this result in Australia,” said Smith.

As far as off-roading is concerned only the H9 looks to be suitable for rough-terrain use, and may do pretty well judging by the specs and the video.  The lack of a diesel will hurt the brand, and it’ll need to be adopted by the aftermarket – sentiment there seems to be “wait and see” before committing development dollars. 

As ever, we’ll reserve judgement until we get a first drive.


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  1. I hope it will shake up the Korean twins that are now over priced and complacent. It’s the equipment levels that will determine this though. We all want our toys don’t we?
    Oh and have a look at the Ssanyong Korando for some competition. Well worth the money.

  2. just like the Koreans , don’t worry the arnt that good ????
    look at them NOW ?????? an other sleeping car giant coming to AUSSIE , the video was very impressive

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