7.9/10Score

Score breakdown

9.0

Safety, value and features

8.0

Comfort and space

7.5

Engine and gearbox

8.5

Ride and handling

6.5

Technology

Things we like

  • Decent chassis dynamics
  • Stacks of features
  • Sharp styling inside and out
  • 7-year warranty

Not so much

  • Maddeningly intrusive safety systems
  • Dull-witted infotainment with no wireless phone mirroring
  • Poor rear visibility
  • Lazy gearbox calibration in default mode

7.9/10Score

Score breakdown

9.0

Safety, value and features

8.0

Comfort and space

7.5

Engine and gearbox

8.5

Ride and handling

6.5

Technology

Things we like

  • Decent chassis dynamics
  • Stacks of features
  • Sharp styling inside and out
  • 7-year warranty

Not so much

  • Maddeningly intrusive safety systems
  • Dull-witted infotainment with no wireless phone mirroring
  • Poor rear visibility
  • Lazy gearbox calibration in default mode

UPDATE: New Haval H6 GT video review published

Following Andy’s shorter driver below, we’ve now had an opportunity to spend more time with the Haval H6 GT. Catch our new video above or below to get Peter’s perspective, and read Andy’s original review further down.

Story continues

August 11: Yes, the ‘thrift-shop Urus’ jokes started coming thick and fast as soon as the 2023 Haval H6 GT Ultra rolled into the car park, but almost as soon as they started, the office japers went a bit quiet.

The opportunity for some light-hearted ribbing soon turned to eyebrows raised in admiration for the Chinese coupe-SUV. As soon as they figured out that here was a well-equipped all-wheel drive SUV with 150kW and a seven-speed dual-clutch that came with a seven-year warranty and left plenty of change from fifty grand, everybody wanted a drive.

So, can a vehicle that seems almost unbeatable on paper cut it against some very capable rivals? One thing’s for sure. It’ll need to be very impressive indeed to earn a solid thumbs up.

JUMP AHEAD

In a rush? You can use the below links to jump ahead, but of course, we recommend reading the full story to best help you make the right decision.

  • How much is it, and what do you get?
  • How do rivals compare on value?
  • Interior comfort, space and storage
  • What is it like to drive?
  • How is it on fuel?
  • How safe is it?
  • Warranty and running costs
  • VERDICT

How much is it and what do you get?

In short, $46,490 on the road, and pretty much everything.

The initial figure might be something of a shock if you mentally pigeonhole Havals in the mid-thirties, but bear with us here.

Not only do you get a punchy 150kW and 320Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine, but it drives all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

At 4727mm long and riding on a 2738mm wheelbase, the H6 GT is a good 177mm longer than a Mazda CX-5, with 38mm more between the wheels and 127mm longer than a Toyota RAV4, with a 48mm longer wheelbase.

It’s even longer than a seven-seat Skoda Kodiaq and is therefore right up near the top end of the medium SUV category.

This Ultra specification is the range-topping H6 GT, sitting above a $40,990 (drive-away) front-wheel drive Lux trim. With the glaring exception of wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, it’s hard to fault the equipment list.

In Ultra guise, it gets heated and ventilated leather and suede front seats, a wireless charging pad, Michelin tyres, heated leather steering wheel, head-up display, electric panoramic sunroof, an electrically-opening kick tailgate and automated parking.

That’s on top of kit common to the Lux including a 12.3-inch central screen, wired Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 19-inch alloys, a surround-view parking camera, an eight-speaker stereo and a host of safety features that we’ll cover later.

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How do rivals compare on value?

What even are its main rivals?

  • Ford Escape is probably closest for packaging and driver appeal
  • Mazda CX-5 Touring is priced closely, but it’s down on gear, power, torque and warranty
  • Want the real deal? You’ll need at least $85K for a BMW X4

Given that a 1.5-litre 131kW Honda Civic until recently retailed at $47,200, it’s not hard to see value in the $46,490 drive-away that Haval asks of the H6 GT Ultra. Its closest rival is probably Ford’s Escape in ritzy Vignale AWD guise, which packs more grunt but which is a hefty $49,590 plus on-roads, comes with a mere five-year warranty and lacks many of the Ultra’s features.

Honda’s latest CR-V VTi-L AWD is an interesting and well-finished alternative, but would be left for dead by the Haval’s gutsy engine and crisp dual-clutch transmission. And therein lies the issue when compiling rivals. The H6 GT is at its best when it’s being properly driven.

Should you want a practical, ambling family hauler, look to a Toyota RAV4 hybrid or a base Kia Sorento. Prefer something that lives up to the promise of the Haval’s sporty styling? There aren’t too many medium-range SUVs in the sub-$50K bracket that get anywhere close to the H6 GT in that regard.

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What’s the H6 GT like inside?

Comfort and quality

Colour me surprised. I hadn’t driven an H6 before and wasn’t expecting much, but the interior finish on this Ultra is as good or better than many mainstream rivals. The materials feel better finished than a Ford or a Toyota, on-par with Hyundai and Kia but still a little way off Mazda and Volkswagen in terms of perceived quality. That’s quite a mark for Haval to have hit.

Of course, much will depend on how offended you are by the soft-touch carbon-fibre-look material that lines its dash. Personally, I’m not particularly affronted by it, and the suede detailing on the door cards and centre console mirrors the leather, suede and, again, the faux-carbon applique on the sports seats.

The dash architecture is interesting with a large 12.3-inch central tablet-style display and another smaller 10-5-inch screen ahead of the driver.

A pair of flying buttresses frames the wireless phone charger on the centre stack, with a rotary gear controller, a pair of cup holders and an electric handbrake adjacent.

The steering wheel isn’t overburdened by controls and is a decent size with a rim that doesn’t feel as if you’re trying to subdue an ornery carpet python. Adaptive cruise control functions are on a stalk buried down below the indicators.

Oddments space is very good, with big front door bins capable of holding a 1.5-litre bottle, twin central cup holders, a phone holder, sunglasses holder overhead and a deep centre bin.

The sports seats aren’t as supportive as perhaps they should be, offering a fairly flat base and a narrow upper section, with a tiny head restraint. There are some other ergonomic shortcomings too, such as the USB data socket being virtually on the floor in the passenger side of the centre stack.

Corner the H6 GT with any gusto and a wired phone will launch out of either the lower tray or the charging pad and end up in the footwell.

The infotainment system features a comprehensive suite of menus and functions, but screen response is poor and you’ll often need to jab at a menu function two or three times before it registers.

When you’re running Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, it occupies the entire screen and performing a task as simple as changing the interior temperature then requires an arcane process of pressing a physical air conditioning control button to first disable the phone screen mirroring, then to change the temperature (which requires jabbing at a small icon to adjust it in half-degree increments) before finally having to switch to the apps screen so you can relaunch the phone screen mirroring.

Accessing the air-conditioning screen first via a physical button seemed to be the only way to switch out of Android Auto and reach the menus for other vehicle functions. If there’s another, quicker way, do let us know in the comments.

Visibility out of the slot-like rear window is compromised, and not helped by the fact that there’s no rear wiper. Likewise, the rear three-quarter visibility isn’t helped by the chunky pillars.

Fortunately, the H6 GT has an excellent surround-view monitor but in this case, it feels as though electronics are making up for a design that has, in terms of visibility, prioritised styling over practicality.

Move to the rear and it’s pretty palatial. The sporty silhouette leads you to think that the rear seats might well be a bit cramped, but I could easily sit behind my driving position with knee room to spare, helped by the fact that it’s easy to get your feet under the front seats. Headroom is acceptable too, with my 193cm frame easily able to sit comfortably.

Rear passengers get a pair of air vents (but no separate controls), a pair of USB ports, map pockets and electric rear windows. There’s plenty of space for rear-facing child seats and, for toddlers, the rear window line isn’t so high that they won’t be able to see out.

Boot space

The boot’s pretty compact at 392 litres compared to the 600 litres of the regular H6 SUV. A Ford Escape offers a little more at 412 litres, but a RAV4 measures 580 litres and a Skoda Kodiaq nets you 630 litres.

Flip the rear seats down and you have up to 1392 litres. Go for the Ultra and there’s a 12V power supply in the luggage bay too.

Mini match-up: boot space
Haval H6 GT Ultra 392L
Ford Escape Vignale AWD 412L
Mazda CX-5 Touring 438L
Renault Koleos Intens 4WD 458L

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What is it like to drive?

If there’s a sub-$50K medium SUV that’s better fun than the Haval H6 GT Ultra to fling up a challenging road, I haven’t driven it. In order to tap into the main vein of talent, there are a few pre-requisites to tick off. Firstly, you’ll need to disable the maddening emergency lane-keep function.

That is unless you want your drive to be perpetually interrupted with chimes, wheel-grabbing and ‘ELK Activated’ flashing up on the dash as if you’ve stimulated a moose. It activates if you come within a sniff of a line and even intervenes – bizarrely – on dirt roads.

Quashing this distraction requires locating a submenu set four-deep in the structure and it needs disabling on every trip, bringing its purported safety benefit into question. It’s also worth disabling the idle-stop function, which has all the reactions of a darted sloth. Fortunately, the Haval remembers this preference.

You’ll also need to switch out of the Normal drive mode. This is fine for ambling along but on a decent road it’ll often exit a corner in sixth or seventh gear, so when you throttle on to tap into some power it’ll kick down to third and lurch horribly.

Switch into Sport instead and the H6 GT will flash its hazard lights in acknowledgement, which scotches your chances of a sneaky traffic light getaway. Why? In Normal mode, you’ll also need to give the throttle quite a poke to get the car moving away from the line, which can prove tedious.

Wholly unexpectedly, there’s also a Race mode (alongside Off Road, Snow, Sand and Eco modes) which sharpens things up significantly, the idle rising from 900 to 1200rpm, the active exhaust getting a bit throatier and – most importantly – the gearshift logic becoming a good deal more aggressive.

Proceed through all of these steps and the underlying excellence of the chassis dynamics makes itself apparent.

All of these fundamentals are very good indeed, despite the H6 GT being built on a platform called the Lemon. Ride quality is firmish but never brittle or terse.

The steering is communicative and the brakes reassuring, despite an initially over-servoed feel to the pedal. The BorgWarner Haldex all-wheel-drive system means that you’ll be able to apply power cleanly on corner exit without scrabbling or eliciting unseemly traction control interventions.

With the transmission in Sport, Race or, better still, manual, it’s really fun to lean on the excellent body control, point the H6 GT at your favourite piece of road and have a good blat. It even sounds exciting, the Miller cycle engine delivering a hollow, breathy timbre from 3800rpm that sounds like a six-pot.

The dual-clutch gearbox slurs gears almost like a torque-converter auto, but it would be nice to have some throttle-blipping drama on downshifts in Race mode. Quite how important these sharply-honed dynamics are to the target market is another consideration entirely.

Wick things back and it’s still a good thing to drive. It has a few quirks such as the hazard lights flashing when you hit a bump or a warning chime sounding when you pull out sharply behind an overtaking vehicle, but that all-of-a-piece feel which distinguishes it when driven hard translates to a feeling of confidence in the chassis when driving at more modest speeds.

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How is it on fuel?

Haval claims a combined figure of 8.4L/100km for the H6 GT Ultra, but I’m afraid that I enjoyed the vehicle a little more exuberantly and saw a figure closer to 12L/100km.

The fuel economy is helped by the fact that the Ultra weighs a mere 1675kg, which isn’t bad at all for a vehicle of this size. In fact, there are Porsche 911s that weigh more than this.

It’s also around 100kg less than a base Skoda Kodiaq, which is shorter, lower and narrower.

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How safe is it?

The Haval H6 GT Ultra has received a five-star ANCAP rating.

In achieving that award, the H6 GT scored 90 per cent in adult occupant protection, 88 per cent in child occupant protection, 73 per cent in vulnerable road user protection (pedestrians/cyclists), and 81 per cent in safety assist (advanced technology).

Though it is hard to fault the amount of safety equipment provided as standard, some of the safety features are a little intrusive. If the emergency lane-keeping function proves too diverting, try to remember to disable it before you start driving rather than while on the move.

The H6 GT’s adaptive cruise control works very well with the lane-keep while freeway driving, helping the vehicle stay centred in its lane.

One shortcoming is that the cruise control can only be adjusted in increments of 5km/h. Given that a true 100km/h is 103km/h on the Haval’s speedometer, that’s perhaps not ideal.

The instrument panel displays a schematic of the vehicles that the H6 GT’s array of 14 radars and five cameras can detect and it even offers an option of veering slightly to the right in its lane if you’re passing a heavy goods vehicle.

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Standard safety features

7 airbags including centre airbag
Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian, bicycle and crossroad detection
Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
Lane Keep Assist (LKA)
Emergency Lane Keep (ELK)
Traffic Sign Recognition
Lane Change Assist with Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM)
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Stop & Go
Intelligent Cruise Assist
Traffic Jam Assist
Hill Descent Control (HDC)
Hill Start Assist Control
Driver Drowsiness Detection
360-degree camera
Front & Rear Parking Sensors
Tyre Pressure Monitoring
Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) with braking

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How long is the warranty and what are the running costs like?

Haval’s warranty is one of the best in the business at seven years with unlimited kilometres. Servicing is also very affordable, with $800 netting you a three-year plan or five years costing $1490. The first service arrives at 12 months or 10,000km, then subsequent intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km.

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Would you recommend it?

I’d describe the Haval H6 GT as a bit of a mixed bag of qualities. Approaching the vehicle, I had assumed that the electronic interface would be very clever while the nuts and bolts of chassis engineering would leave a fair bit to be desired. The opposite is the case.

The bones of the vehicle are excellent. The whole go, stop and steer thing is very well resolved, while the packaging, equipment provision and pricing are pretty much spot-on for a vehicle of this ilk.

Look closer at the details of how you interact with the H6 GT on a daily basis and it’s apparent that the final finishing of infotainment and driver assist systems leaves much to be desired. It’s frustrating that Haval has, in many regards, delivered 90 per cent of a very good vehicle that’s just been let down by a cornucopia of petty frustrations.

All of these can fairly easily be fixed, so a facelifted version of the H6 GT has the potential to be very good indeed. In the meantime, it’s very nearly there. If you demand very little of it, the H6 GT has the capacity to impress. Likewise, if you want an SUV that can really be belted along a challenging road, it delivers in spades.

It’s that middle ground where the Haval struggles a little, and it’s here where rivals are often so finely polished. I’d recommend trying before you buy because, for some, the H6 GT will be a very pleasant surprise.

For others, it’ll be an illuminating exercise in how far this brand has come and how little it needs to do in order to compete with the best in class. The gap might be small, but it’s a gap nevertheless.

Still, with a drive-away asking price of $46,490, the Haval H6 GT buys itself a great deal of credit.

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2023 Haval H6 GT: Frequently Asked Questions

The H6 GT is only offered in four paint finishes. Hamilton White is the only zero-cost paint. Our test car was finished in Atlantis Blue, which costs an additional $495, along with Crayon Grey and Golden Black. Just to avoid any semblance of doubt, Golden Black is black, not gold.

Aside from the three optional paint finishes, none. Haval emptied the whole options list into the Ultra.

Yes, as it happens. It’s a Miller cycle powerplant, which results in better efficiency, but the trade-off is a soft-feeling bottom end because this set-up requires boost pressure from the turbo to operate most effectively.

This being a multi-plate Haldex system, the maximum percentage of torque that can ever go to the rear treads is 50 per cent. In most scenarios, the H6 GT Ultra is 100 per cent front-wheel drive.

The Haval H6 GT Ultra rolls on Goodyear Primacy 4 rubber. The tyres measure 235/55 R19 all round, so there’s plenty of sidewall to help deliver a comfortable ride. All the tyres are the same 101V rating, so you ought to be able to rotate them, making them last a bit longer.

Currently, dealers quote a 3-4 month wait for the H6 GT.

The H6 GT has a 61-litre fuel tank, so with a measured right boot, you should be able to get a 750km touring range out of one.

If you’re intent on dragging something around behind you, the H6 GT Ultra will tow a 2000kg braked trailer or a 750kg unbraked one.

Mostly good. It’s a blast to punt along a B-road and people are genuinely curious about it. The only time I felt a bit self-conscious was when a BMW X4 in almost the same colour pulled up alongside. At that moment I felt as if I’d been caught wearing a hooky Rolex.

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2023 Haval H6 GT Ultra specifications

Body 5-door, 5-seat medium SUV
Drive all-wheel
Engine 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol
Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch
Power 150kW @ 6000-6300rpm
Torque 320Nm @ 1500-4000rpm
Bore stroke (mm) 82 x 94.6
Compression ratio 12.0 : 1.0
0-100km/h 8.8 sec (tested)
Fuel consumption 11.8L/100km (tested)
Weight 1675kg
Suspension MacPherson struts front / multi-link rear
L/W/H 4727mm/1940mm/1729mm
Wheelbase 2738mm
Brakes ventilated disc front / solid disc rear
Tyres 235/55 R19 101V Michelin Primacy 4
Wheels 19-inch alloy (space saver spare)
Price $46,490 drive away

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