The Haval H6 Hybrid goes toe-to-toe with the ever-popular Toyota RAV4, and despite the Chinese brand only having been in Australia for under a decade, it's served up a very solid contender.

When Chinese SUV powerhouse Haval first launched in Australia eight years ago – a subdivision of Great Wall, now known as GWM – it was clear that the brand’s lineup was a bit dated and behind the times, but in the time since then it has made some big strides. A clear example of that is this, the 2023 H6 Ultra Hybrid, the most expensive version of the brand’s mid-size SUV which feels a world away from the brand’s earlier efforts.

Calling it the most expensive version feels wrong, too, as it’s priced at just $45,990 drive-away, with a $1000 discount also available for the rest of December 2023. For comparison, a mid-spec Toyota RAV4 GXL Hybrid 2WD costs about the same before on-road costs, and you’ll be waiting an eternity for it to arrive, making the Haval H6 Hybrid look like quite the attractive proposition.

Certainly, it’s quite attractive outside with it looking like far more of a finished article than its rather awkward predecessor. There’s an air of the Peugeot 3008 about the techy front end styling, while its lengthy side profile and rear full-width light bar mean it looks quite modern and surprisingly classy. 2024 models will sport the brand’s revised logo but are otherwise identical.

As standard, the Ultra model rides on a set of 19-inch alloy wheels, while LED headlights, daytime running lights, fog lights, and taillights are standard on lower-specified models as well. Keyless entry and push-button start are also standard across the range.

The interior marks a big step forward as well, with the interior design and quality feeling rather impressive. There’s a fairly thorough use of soft-touch materials throughout the cabin including on the dashboard and door cards, while the back seat hasn’t been cheapened-out on either.

Black leatherette upholstery features as standard, as does a customisable 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control, one-touch windows all around, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, eight-speaker DTS audio system, and an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat. One criticism that has never been levelled at Haval is its cars being under-equipped, as even a base model H6 features a relatively full gamut of gear.

Stepping up to this Ultra model adds a few other desirable features, however, including a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, wireless phone charging, head-up display, red ambient interior lighting, a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, four-way powered passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, powered tailgate, and a semi-autonomous parking function. There’s no arguing with that equipment list for the price.

There are a few points of contention with some individual items, though, particularly the infotainment system. Certainly, not all is bad about it as the presentation and operation of it is slick, with a handy customisable pull-down menu full of shortcuts which feels very familiar to the sort of operating system you’d have on your smartphone.

However, there are too many functions controlled entirely through the touchscreen including even the climate control. This becomes an issue if you connect to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – which still requires a cable, and it’s on the passenger side which shows its original left-hand drive design – as you’ll have to exit out of it since the pull-down menu doesn’t work with smartphone mirroring active. There’s also no integrated sat nav either, meaning you’ll be more likely to need your phone plugged in as well.

Beyond that, the rest of the interior feels fairly well made with the fit and finish good in most areas, although some imperfections such as the trim around the base of the gauge cluster can be identified. On the whole, though, it’s quite a well-designed cabin with solid ergonomics and decent build quality.

The boot is on the larger size for this class at 600 litres with the rear seats in place and 1485 litres with them folded down. This does put the Haval H6 Hybrid ahead of the Toyota RAV4 and its 542 litre boot.

Under the bonnet, you’ll find that most H6 variants feature a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and the choice of front or all-wheel drive which is all pretty conventional. However, this hybrid model sports a rather unique drivetrain among the other hybrids out there.

For one, there’s a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine at the heart of it, rather than a naturally aspirated engine, which produces 110kW from 5500-6000rpm and 230Nm from 1500-4000rpm. The electric motor adds in 130kW and 300Nm, lifting the combined system outputs to 179kW and an impressive 530Nm. Not bad at all.

The other noteworthy point of difference is its transmission. Rather than use a CVT, the Haval H6 Hybrid features a two-speed automatic which Haval calls a ‘Dedicated Hybrid Transmission’. Unfortunately, the hybrid drivetrain is only available with front-wheel drive.

What impressed me most about this power plant is its refinement. The two-speed transmission – which seems to work since the electric motor and ‘engine-generator’ have their own set gear ratios in addition to these two gears – does feel more direct and saps less power than a CVT would. Obviously, it’s totally silent when running on electric power only, but the petrol engine remains quite muted even when it does kick in, and what noise there is doesn’t sound too bad at all. It’s also worth noting that it can pivot between petrol and electric power more regularly when at freeway speeds than Toyota’s hybrid systems can. Mind you, it doesn’t switch as seamlessly between them as Toyota’s system can.

When you do step on it, this thing certainly feels punchy. It might not have the biggest power figure in the world, but that hefty torque figure can certainly be felt. Indeed, it’s easily enough power to exploit the limits of front-wheel drive, with wheelspin and torque steer aplenty. Having all four wheels driven would take this to another level.

For the most part, its ride quality is very good with it damping out most bumps with ease and offering a ride that matches the drivetrain’s serenity. Occasionally, it can feel a bit busy over some larger bumps, while through the corners it’s a touch floaty, but it’s pretty good on the whole.

Through the central touchscreen, you can choose between three different steering feel settings which is impressive to see in a mid-size SUV. Like with most systems, though, you’re best leaving it in Comfort – ‘Light’ lives up to its name, while its ‘Sport’ mode is optimistic at best. Regardless of which you pick, there’s little in the way of steering feel but that’s to be expected in a car of its kind.

What did frustrate me particularly, however, was the H6’s active safety systems which are overbearing at times. The lane keep assist system is incredibly twitchy and sensitive to the point you don’t even need to touch the lane lines for it to intervene. Also, if someone pulls out in front of you or merges into the gap between you and the car in front, it will start scolding you for tailgating them… even when you’ve slowed down to allow ample room as there’s a delay between you and the system reacting.

On the whole, the Haval H6 Hybrid is a really pleasant car to drive in most circumstances. Sure, its limits are easily exposed, but it’s punchy, comfortable, and relaxing as a hybrid should be.

It’s also pretty economical, too, using 6.4L/100km during my 889km of testing, although that is a fair bit higher than the 5.2L/100km claim. For comparison, I’ve observed 5.9L/100km in the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD but just 7.9L/100km in the Subaru Forester Hybrid.

As with all Haval and GWM models, the H6 is covered by a seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty, along with five years of complimentary roadside assistance plus an eight-year unlimited kilometre battery pack warranty for hybrid variants.

Haval also offers five years of capped price servicing, with the first service required after 12 months/10,000km while all subsequent services are after 12 months/15,000km. The first five services come in at $225, $250, $400, $550, and $225 respectively, totalling $1650 over that period.

In summary, the Haval H6 Hybrid is a very solid offering when you consider its attractive drive-away price tag. Sure, there is some room for improvement with the technology and suspension, but with an equipment list as long as this Ultra model has for $45,990 it’s hard to complain too much.

I was pleasantly surprised by how solid a package the H6 Hybrid presents, and it’s a clear marker of how far Haval has come in a short period. Sure, a RAV4 is more polished, but Toyota has been making hybrid cars on a global scale since the 1990s. Give Haval some time and it’s clear it’s on a path to making some very solid cars, although even as this H6 stands, the company is well on the way there.

2023 Haval H6 Ultra Hybrid Drive-Away Price: $45,990
  • 7.5/10
    Performance - 7.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Ride & Handling - 7.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Tech & Features - 7.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Practicality - 8.5/10
  • 8.5/10
    Value for Money - 8.5/10

Pros: Punchy drivetrain which doesn’t use a CVT like most, lengthy list of standard features for the price, attractive looks and interior
Cons: Overbearing active safety systems, too much torque for FWD to handle, could do with some suspension refinements

Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by GWM Australia for 10 days with a full tank of fuel. All additional fuel expenses were covered by the author.

Patrick Jackson
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