I was recently given the opportunity to test out the latest Haval H2, to be exact, the entry-level Haval H2 City Manual.
I’ve gradually begun seen more and more H2’s on our roads lately and have always been curious to drive one just to see what it was all about. When doing some digging on the H2, I discovered that Haval actually manages to sell a fair number of these in SA. In fact, during 2020, Haval still managed to sell just under 4,500 H2’s locally, which is pretty much on par with one of its main competitors, the Hyundai Venue. So, clearly us South Africans are starting to warm to the Haval brand and in particular this H2. But why is that? Well, that’s exactly what I wanted to find out!
The Haval brand is still fairly new in SA, and launched locally back in 2017. It is positioned as the premium sub-brand of the Great Wall Motors Group which has been here for around a decade now and has managed to establish a decent foothold in the market.
One of the barriers that many newcomers to the market have to face is the unfortunate reality that many of us South Africans are far too brand conscious; we would rather just immediately go for the brands we know and would often pay more for a badge that holds a certain perceived status or “value”, than to consider other, newer brands.
But Haval seems to be breaking this trend and personally I think that their entry into the market couldn’t have come at a better time. More and more people are looking for a package that that offers proper value for money. This is what I think Haval is doing right and why they are successfully doing what so many other brands have failed to do.
Outside, the H2 plays it quite safe in terms of design and takes a lot of inspiration from German manufacturers. Playing safe doesn’t mean it doesn’t look good though. In fact, I think they have managed to make it look quite premium.
This Slim headlights, led running lights, loads of chrome accents, clean lines; it all just looks well put together. Nice touches such as Haval badging on the C-pillar and inside the light clusters, chrome “exhausts”, albeit fake, and metal-look scuff plates on the front and rear, just lifts the H2 up a bit when compared to its rivals.
Inside, the H2 is a really nice place to be. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the fit and finish of the H2’s interior, there were plenty of soft-touch materials scattered around in all the places that count. The H2 also has a high, commanding seating position with loads of adjustment which is perfect for a seeing the world around you. Despite the fact that this is the entry-level H2, Haval have still thrown in quite a bit of tech considering this particular model’s price point. Equipment such as a high-res driver’s display between the dials, automatic handbrake, responsive center touch screen, bluetooth and cruise control, make driving the H2 a pleasure.
As far as practicality is concerned, the H2 fairs well here too. There are plenty of storage spaces inside, although, I would’ve liked some place to put my phone. At the rear, there is more than enough head and leg room for most adults, but the middle seat is definitely reserved for smaller children and shorter distances.
Boot space is decent at 232 litres, which is more than enough for most, however, families of four or more may struggle a bit with luggage when going away on holiday. Fold down the seats, and the space increases to 872 litres.
I did a fair bit of driving in the H2, with a combination of city and longer highway drives. I’ve done everything from the regular office commute, to shopping around town and to be honest there is little to nothing to complain about.
The H2 is powered by a 1.5 litre turbo petrol motor, with 105kW and 202Nm of torque and this particular model is paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox.
The only thing I can say is that I would’ve liked just a little more low-down torque from the engine, I found myself changing gears more often than I would’ve liked on the highway, particularly on steeper uphill climbs, but for regular around-town driving I had absolutely no issues and the H2 will more than deliver.
Overall, the car is quiet and refined and actually feels like something with a much higher price tag. My average fuel consumption wasn’t bad either! I’ve averaged around 7.5 litres/100km and I’ve been stuck in some heavy stop-start traffic and quite bad wet weather along the way, so that’s great too.
Equipment and pricing
As I mentioned earlier, this entry-level H2 comes loaded with quite a bit of kit. Keyless entry and start, a really great high-quality rear-reverse camera, park distance control, tyre-pressure monitoring and much more!
I honestly feel that you’ll be hard-pressed to find another vehicle at this price point that delivers the level of refinement and equipment that the Haval H2 brings to the table. Speaking of price, this H2 City Manual comes in at just R294,900. This includes a 5-Year, 100 000km warranty and 5-Year, 60 000km service plan.
So then, what’s the verdict? Should you buy one or not? The short answer is that I can’t think of a single reason why not. The H2 is a well put together package at a price point that’s hard to argue with. I’m glad to see more and more of these on the road and I look forward to what the brand has in store for us in the months to come!