The Haval H6 GT makes a strong first impression.
A coupe-like body borrows the roofline and twin spoilers of muscular European crossovers. It has gloss-black alloys wrapped in low-profile Michelin tyres, twin chrome exhaust outlets either side of a black diffuser, and acid-green brake calipers reminiscent of a range-topping Porsche Cayenne. Our test car’s paint scheme is “crayon grey”, a name that also appears on the Cayenne colour chart.
The spec sheet teases enthusiasts with a turbocharged engine, sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and dual-clutch automatic transmission – ingredients found in a Volkswagen Golf R and Nissan GT-R.
Premium seats with bright red “GT” logos join metal gear shift paddles in a hi-tech cabin adorned with what appears to be carbon fibre.
There’s a touch of Benz to the perforated metal speaker grilles, digital dashboard and seats trimmed in a mix of faux leather and suede. Myriad driving modes include a “race” setting that activates a bi-modal exhaust.
Haval’s marketing slogan for the H6GT is “the driving paradox”. Which is spot-on, as the contradiction between its sporting promise and driving experience is stark.
The Haval H6GT is not a performance car.
It’s not even sporty.
Powered by the same 150kW/320Nm turbo engine found in the regular H6 wagon, the GT has a similar power-to-weight ratio to the Honda Civic.
It’s not particularly brisk, its performance not helped by an occasionally jerky dual-clutch automatic that feels strained in traffic. The Haval’s firm ride and noisy suspension contrast with a roly-poly approach to cornering that doesn’t gel with its sporting pretensions.
Vague steering, loose body control and hyperactive safety features conspire to frustrate folks who love driving, although you don’t have to be an enthusiast to realise the Haval’s shortcomings.
Modern philosophers will tell you the key to happiness is keeping expectations in check. Diet Porsche looks, liberally applied carbon trim and a handful of GT badges set a high level of sporting anticipation the car can’t match.
Which is a shame, as there’s plenty like about Haval. For one, it’s absolutely stuffed with equipment. Priced from $46,490 drive-away, our all-wheel-drive H6GT Ultra 4WD is loaded with gear including heated and cooled seats, smart keys, a powered tailgate, LED headlights and much more.
The interior shines brighter than most at this price, with an eye-catching array of materials joining luxury touches such as a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control and mood lighting.
Rear passengers have access to USB power outlets, air vents and a surprising room.
It meets the requisite criteria for the latest five-star safety rating, backed by clever tech including auto emergency braking, lane keeping, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts.
The active cruise control slows down automatically for corners, and even has an “intelligent dodge” feature that gives heavy vehicles a wide berth when overtaking, moving over in its lane to minimise the chance of a collision. It’s fair to say the implementation of those features could use more finesse.
But they’re there. The same could be said of a central touchscreen that impresses on paper but frustrates in person. A decision to follow the trend for cabins bereft of buttons places too much reliance on the screen and its fussy software structure. Digital switches for the heated seats and heated steering wheel are held in separate sub-menus rather than being grouped together – activating both requires more taps, prods and swipes than it should.
Eye-catching style and generous standard features are let down by a driving experience that doesn’t deliver on the “GT” promise.
Haval H6 GT AWD
PRICE From $46,490 drive-away
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol, 150kW and 320Nm
WARRANTY/SERVICE 7-year, u’ltd km / $1760 for 5 yrs
SAFETY 7 airbags, front and rear auto emergency braking, active cruise control, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert
CARGO 392 litres