Haval H6 HEV first impressions – Looks great, rides comfortably, and packs a whole lot of punch

The Haval H6 is one of Great Wall Motor’s (GWM) models that has been said to be coming to Malaysia very soon. However, as of now, the car has not been officially launched just yet. But you probably already had the chance of seeing, touching, and even test-driving the car at the recently held Malaysia Autoshow 2023. Lucky for us, we were given an opportunity by GWM to test drive the car itself at GWM’s newly launched USJ 4S centre. Allow us to share with you our first impressions of the Haval H6 HEV.

Precisely, the Haval H6 we test-drove was the hybrid variant, or HEV, as GWM officially calls it. This is also probably the only variant that will be brought into the Malaysian market.

Exterior design – It actually looks decently handsome!

The name Haval might not be the most desirable-sounding car brand in the world. But putting my bias aside, I have to admit that the Haval H6 actually looks decently handsome.

Despite being a C-segment SUV, the car in the flesh looked bigger than I expected. That’s because it is indeed bigger than many of its competitors. Measuring 4,683 mm long, 1,886 mm wide, and 1,724 mm tall, with a 2,738 mm wheelbase underpinning it, the Haval H6 is generally larger than the Mazda CX-5, and Honda CRV, and is just about the same size as the Nissan X-trail.

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At the front of the Haval H6 is a grille that looks heavily inspired by Mercedes Benz’s diamond grille design, which I like. Together with its slim LED headlights, the SUV looks grand and with a couple of hints of premium.

With the market full of cars with dual-tone rims nowadays, I am also quite a fan of the 19-inch all-black wheels the Haval H6 is wearing, giving the car an expensive and sporty look. Looking at the rear of the Haval H6, which is my favourite side of the hybrid SUV, its design in some way actually reminds me of cars like the Range Rover Evoque and fourth-generation Kia Sportage.

The rear lights are positioned a bit high up, reminding me of the Proton X70 and Mazda CX-5. Unique design bits that caught my eye are the tail lights that run across the rear of the car, as well as the uniquely designed third brake lights.

Driving experience – Smooth and comfortable, while packing quite a punch

Hopping into the Haval H6 and driving it for the first time, I immediately felt how comfortable the car was. To start, the suspension fitted to this SUV is soft and comfortable, delivering a comfortable and refined driving and riding experience. Not only that, the car feels refined as well no matter when going through smooth or rough road surfaces, or even potholes (as long as they are not too big…), reminding me a lot of the Proton X70.

Soundproofing on the Haval H6 is also done well, blocking out noises from the outside, as well as the engine bay. Under the hood of the Haval H6 HEV is a mild hybrid system consisting of a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine and a Dedicated Hybrid Transmission (DHT).

With power sent to the front wheels only, the engine itself makes 150 hp (metric) and 230 Nm, while the DHT itself makes 177 hp (metric) and 300 Nm. As a result, power delivery is smooth, direct and seamless. The hybrid system is so seamless and refined that I for a moment forgot that I was driving a hybrid car, as the transition between pure electric mode and when the engine kicked in was done in a quiet and drama-free manner.

The car is also rather eager in providing power when I demanded it, as it accelerates and charges forward pretty ‘violently’, considering the fact that it is primarily a family car. Therefore, you will not need to worry when doing overtaking manoeuvres during your balik kampung or long-distance trips, as the car packs more punch than you would need.

The only thing I disliked when driving the Haval H6 was its steering feel and feedback. The steering can feel a little too light and even numb at times, leaving me desiring more feedback from the wheels when driving through corners and bends.

However, the plus side to this is that the Haval H6’s steering is very easy to manoeuvre. This makes the Haval H6 an easily operational vehicle, making it easy for most drivers to get used to the car.

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Interior – Great build quality, could use better materials

The Haval H6’s interior is essentially well made, featuring a modern and simple, yet tastefully done design. Lots of soft plastics can be found in the car, making it feel more premium than its segment suggests.

The climate control buttons and the gear selector dials also deliver decent feedback. However, a huge portion of the centre console and the door trim is finished with piano black plastic surfaces, creating a huge fingerprint and scratch magnet. For context, the test drive unit GWM provided us already had its centre console severely scratched.

The leatherette seats are also plush and soft, just like many Chinese cars (Geely-based Protons included), providing a comfortable seating experience. But I doubt these seats are able to hold me well if I am to chuck it through curvy roads in Genting for instance. Yet again, this is a family car first, and comfort is one of the most important factors, proving that GWM has made the right choice.

Conclusion – A potentially popular car if the price is right

Like the title of this first impression article, the Haval H6 HEV is indeed an SUV that packs a punch. It looks decent and drives pretty well too. The powerful mild hybrid powertrain is certainly a nice bonus for this family SUV. It now all comes down to the sticker price GWM is planning to stick to the car, which I think will be an important factor that will determine the Haval H6 HEV’s fate in Malaysia.

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