In the ever-evolving landscape of the global automotive industry, Chinese car manufacturers have rapidly emerged from their infancy, transforming themselves from basic, uninspiring models to competitive contenders in the international market. A shining example of this transformation is the Haval H6 GT, a vehicle that epitomizes China’s meteoric rise in the car-making arena.
A decade ago, the notion of a Chinese-made car being on par with established, century-old brands might have seemed far-fetched. However, recent first-hand experiences with the Haval H6 GT reveal an impressive tale of progress and innovation, reshaping perceptions of “Made in China” automobiles.
Nearly a decade ago, the automotive landscape in South Africa was vastly different. The author fondly recalls testing their first vehicle, a GWM Steed 5E, where naivety overshadowed objectivity. At that time, features like turbos and color screen infotainment systems were novelty items, capable of mesmerizing even the most critical eye. However, the 5E, despite its initial appeal, paled in comparison to its mainstream segment peers.
Fast forward a few years, and the Steed’s successor, the P-Series, made a bold statement. It not only outshone some established rivals but also redefined the expectations of value in the market. This significant leap underscored the speed at which Chinese automakers were evolving, catching up with, and in some cases, surpassing their global counterparts.
The Haval H6 GT, a product of Great Wall Motors (GWM), perfectly encapsulates this story of rapid progress. A few years ago, driving a Chinese SUV was synonymous with subpar quality and lackluster design. However, the H6 GT has shattered these stereotypes, ushering in a new era of Chinese automotive excellence.
Under the creative direction of Phil Simmons, renowned for his work at Range Rover, the H6 GT boasts a captivating exterior. The aggressively reworked front end, slim headlights, and sweeping coupe roofline redefine expectations of Chinese car design. A notable feature is the addition of dual spoilers, adding both drama and aerodynamic efficiency to the vehicle’s profile.
Inside the cabin, the transformation continues. Premium materials adorn every surface, and a vibrant touch of bright green trimmings adds a touch of sportiness. Technological innovation takes center stage with a 10.25” digital driver’s display and a 12.3” central infotainment screen, delivering crisp graphics and user-friendly navigation.
The H6 GT is not just about looks; it packs a punch under the hood. Equipped with a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine generating 155 kW of power and 325 Nm of torque, the H6 GT offers spirited acceleration, making it easy to forget it’s an SUV at heart. The well-weighted and precise steering provides an excellent connection between the driver and the road, enhancing the overall driving experience. Despite its sporty 19” wheels, the suspension gracefully handles South Africa’s notoriously bumpy roads, ensuring a smooth ride.
However, the engine’s power delivery has been a topic of discussion. With the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine having to work hard to reach its maximum power potential, some enthusiasts might find the performance slightly lacking. Yet, the 7-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT) efficiently translates available power to the road, albeit without the grandeur of traditional Grand Touring vehicles.
Safety has become a paramount concern for modern drivers, and the H6 GT doesn’t disappoint in this department. A suite of on-board safety features includes lane-keep assist, blind spot detection, pre-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking for pedestrians and cyclists, and a 360-degree camera. The crown jewel of safety technology in the H6 GT is the adaptive cruise control system, designed to seamlessly navigate highways.
However, as South Africans are known for their habit of tailgating, the system’s oversensitivity to gradual curves became a notable concern. The unexpected braking instances, though potentially jarring, are anticipated to be resolved through a simple software tweak, emphasizing the car’s potential for continuous improvement.
In a market where established brands have long dominated, the Haval H6 GT stands as a testament to China’s growing influence in the automotive industry. The once-dismissed “Made in China” stamp no longer carries negative connotations; instead, it signifies innovation, quality, and competitive pricing.
Priced at R642,550, the Haval H6 GT offers a compelling package. While it’s not without its minor flaws, such as the fuel consumption and adaptive cruise control sensitivity, the overall value it provides makes it a worthy contender in the SUV segment. South African drivers now have the opportunity to experience a new era of Chinese automobiles, where progress and innovation drive the industry forward, reshaping perceptions and setting new standards for quality and design. The Haval H6 GT, with its striking aesthetics, advanced technology, and impressive performance, is a clear indication that Chinese car manufacturers are no longer just catching up; they are leading the way into the future of automotive excellence.