The Haval H6 GT might make a big splash with its unmissable sporty styling and rowdy exhaust note, but there's still some tweaking needed to get it feeling like the full quid when it comes to the way it drives.

Despite the mixed response to it when it first launched in 2008, the BMW X6 has been quite the trendsetter across the car industry. The coupé SUV shape has since been adopted by a multitude of other brands – Renault with the Arkana, Mercedes with the GLC and GLE, Porsche with the Cayenne, Volvo with the C40, Audi with all of its SUVs, and even Lamborghini has tried the shape on for size with the Urus.

The latest to adopt the shape is Haval, a subsidiary of Chinese auto giant GWM, with the H6 GT. Although it shares its underpinnings and interior design with the H6 SUV, it wears a totally unique coupé-like body that clearly draws some inspiration stylistically from the Lambo Urus, although it’s sized more like the smaller BMW X4 than the larger X6. However, like most Haval models it isn’t priced anything like the dearer cars it takes inspiration from – the Lux 2WD model is just $40,990 drive-away, while the Ultra 4WD variant tested here is still only $46,490 drive-away.

There’s no denying that with its aggressive snout, black 19-inch alloy wheels, finned side skirts, bright green brake calipers, rear lip and roof spoilers, and large (and also very fake) exhaust outlets, the H6 GT’s sporting pretensions are clearly on display. You could argue it’s perhaps a bit too overstyled, with the standard H6 looking far sleeker and more attractive, but it certainly doesn’t look like the budget-minded option it is. Do note that 2024 models will feature updated badging with Haval’s new logo, but it’s otherwise unchanged from the 2023 model you see here.

As mentioned, the majority of the interior design is identical to that of the regular H6, although in place of the standard leather upholstery you’ll find Comfort-Tek grey suede and faux leather with red GT embroidery on the seats, while on the door cards and dashboard there’s vinyl trim that’s textured to look like carbon fibre. Again, all very sporty.

The dashboard layout is still the same with a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and either a 10.25-inch infotainment screen on the Lux model or the larger 12.3-inch screen in the Ultra variant tested here. The instrument cluster offers a good array of customisability which is nice, while the infotainment is slick to use.

However, too many functions are buried on the screen such as the climate controls, while it lacks integrated navigation, digital radio, and wireless smartphone mirroring; you’ll still need a cable for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, even though there’s a wireless charger, and you’ll need to plug it in on the passenger side.

Despite the sloping roofline, headroom is still very good for both front and rear occupants, as is rear legroom. The area where the new body design does present issues is when it comes to rear visibility. You could hide an aircraft carrier in its blind spots, while the bottom half of the rear-view mirror might as well not be there as all you’ll see in it is the inside of the tailgate.

The boot is also on the smaller side as a result of it with 392 litres of space with the rear seats up, expanding to 1390 litres with them folded down. For comparison’s sake, the regular H6 has 600/1485 litres of space. Mind you, the H6 GT can tow a handy 2000kg with trailer brakes.

As you’d expect, there is plenty of gadgetry inside, with all models featuring heated front seats with eight-way power adjustment for the driver, keyless entry, push-button start, a powered tailgate, automatic headlights and wipers, and an eight-speaker audio system. This Ultra model also gains ventilated front seats with power adjustment for the passenger, a heated steering wheel, head-up display, and a panoramic sunroof.

There’s also a strong suite of safety technology including tyre pressure and temperature monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, driver drowsiness detection, traffic sign recognition, and a 360-degree camera. The Ultra also adds an auto parking function and rear cross-traffic alert with rear AEB. The Haval H6 GT features a five-star ANCAP safety rating with a 2022 datestamp.

One thing I’d note, though, is that some of its safety systems such as the lane departure warning and distance warning are very oversensitive – so much so they can be activated when you don’t even touch the lane lines. They also bong rather incessantly once they have been triggered.

Both H6 GT variants are powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine which makes 150kW from 6000-6300rpm and 320Nm from 1500-4000rpm, which is backed by a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The Lux variant comes with front-wheel drive, while the Ultra tested here is all-wheel drive.

What is immediately apparent when you fire up the H6 GT is that those sporty intentions carry over to the exhaust note. Despite being the same engine found in the non-hybrid H6, it has a deep and aggressive note in most drive modes, while if you put it into this Ultra model’s bespoke Race mode, it becomes downright raucous and sounds almost as if it was straight-piped.

But while this engine may bark loudly, it’s not too eager to bite. Sure, there’s more than enough power for most people on offer thanks to the low-end torque, but I do feel like when you push it as hard as that engine note begs you to, it’s a bit hesitant and choked-up at times.

Perhaps the root cause of that is the dual-clutch auto which is a frustrating unit to say the least. At low speeds it feels lurchy and unrefined, while its downshifts are slow and noticeably slurred. Combine that with one of the slowest start/stop systems I’ve come across (although once turned off, it stays off) and it makes city driving more difficult than it needs to be.

As with the H6 we’ve previously tested, you can configure the steering feel separately to the drivetrain’s drive modes, although it’s best left in the Comfort setting which feels a bit numb but pleasantly light. Truthfully, with a set of decent Michelin Primacy 4 tyres fitted, it handles quite well with good precision and balance through the corners which is one area its sporty looks are matched, although the suspension can feel a bit too rigid on occasion.

Temper your expectations and the H6 GT is a decent enough drive with an exhaust note your kids will get a kick out of. If you’re expecting the sort of sporty dynamics and refinement its looks promise, however, then it’s not the one to go for – the smooth but punchy H6 Hybrid I’ve previously tested is, in my opinion, much better on both counts.

You’ll want to look elsewhere if fuel economy is a concern as well, as I was only able to manage a disappointing 10.4L/100km during my 599km of testing – well above the 8.4L/100km claim.

However, servicing is one area where you’ll save some money with its five years of capped price servicing coming in at $1560 for the Lux 2WD ($312 per service on average) and $1760 for this Ultra 4WD model ($352 on average). The service intervals are a bit strange, with the first required after 12 months/10,000km and all subsequent ones after 12 months/15,000km.

As with all Haval models, the H6 GT is also covered by a seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Five years of complimentary roadside assistance is also included.

In summary, what the Haval H6 GT clearly offers is an sharply-priced, thoroughly well-equipped, sporty-looking package which is hard to look past when it comes to how much bang you’re getting for your buck. As far as its handling and exhaust note are concerned, it delivers on some of the sporty promises as well.

What’s disappointing, though, is the lack of refinement exhibited by its transmission, which I think is the main thing holding its engine back. With a bit of tweaking in that department, it could be a really comprehensive package on every front.

2023 Haval H6 GT Ultra 4WD Drive-Away Price: $46,490
  • 7/10
    Performance - 7/10
  • 7.5/10
    Ride & Handling - 7.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Tech & Features - 8.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Practicality - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Value for Money - 8/10

Pros: Feature-packed interior, raucous exhaust note, handles tidily, strong value for money
Cons: Poor rear visibility, lurchy and unrefined dual-clutch transmission, clunky and overbearing safety systems

Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by GWM Australia for one week with a full tank of fuel. All additional fuel costs were covered by the author.

Patrick Jackson
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