Haval Big Dog looks a firm favourite for Australia
New Haval Big Dog could arrive sooner rather than later as an adventurous SUV with styling on par with the likes of the Ford Bronco Sport.
Haval is nearing the end of its evaluation period on the Big Dog, a mid-size SUV based on the Haval H6 but with much more boxy and unique styling.
With a left-hand drive model shown to media this week in Melbourne, Haval confirmed it has already conducted evaluations with customer research groups including a comparison to the Toyota Rav4 and its own stablemates. With a positive skew, it seems that the Big Dog is a shoe-in to arrive in Australia, which could be as early as next year.
Styling standouts in the current Haval range with the exterior offering a more lifestyle-oriented approach on a raised platform. Inside, the design is equally inspired, with a grab handle and orange accents around the cabin among the usual Haval H6 equipment, like a similar twin-screen digital display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The packaging is quite good too with the rear seats enjoying a large footwell and spacious dimensions, plus a good size boot at the rear.
Powering the model is the H6’s same 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine which produces 145kW and 315Nm via a seven-speed auto, and both front and all-wheel drivelines are available.
Local marketing manager for the brand, Steve Maciver, is excited by the Big Dog and says that bringing it to market won’t be a challenge if the financials stack up: “We’re very keen on this car and what people think of it,” he said.
“The factory can make this in right-hand drive very quickly compared to what we are used to and so around 2022 (is when it could launch in Australia), it’s a matter of making sure the financials are right.”
Indeed, if Haval does have a good seller here it could be in showrooms relatively soon and pricing is expected at around $35,000 to $40,000 driveaway, making it another competitive product from the quickly expanding Chinese carmaker. On showrooms, it would sit alongside the Haval H6, H9, Jolion, and the new GWM Ute. If the Tank 300 gets the green light, then expect a fifth offering in premium off-road attire.
And as the Tank 300 rivals the Ford Bronco – which is not available in Australia – the Haval Big Dog has a size and appearance competing with the Ford Bronco Sport, another vehicle the blue oval is not making available to Aussies. It is a blend of SUV sensibilities and adventurous aspiration, touting a BorgWarner Haldex all-wheel driveline, high driving position, large glasshouse, 200mm ground clearance, and a variety of off-road driving modes.
While not a serious off-roader, it would be a weekend getaway vehicle for those wanting to get onto quieter gravel roads and tracks for camping and recreation. We suspect it would also attract suburban buyers going for the H6 but who want something to stand out, which the styling of the Big Dog certainly does.
Beyond confirmation of right-hand drive production and a timeline for Australian launch is the name Big Dog, which remains open but also holds as much statement as the rest of the car.