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Haval H9 2019 review: Ultra

Haval is throwing everything it’s got into its H9 flagship SUV.
EXPERT RATING
7.3
The Haval H9 Ultra is outstanding value-for-money - but is that its only strong point?

Not content with being China’s biggest auto brand, Haval is trying to win Australia over and is now throwing everything it’s got at us in the form of its H9 flagship SUV.

Think of the H9 as an alternative to seven-seat off-roaders such as the SsangYong Rexton or Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and you’re on the right track.

 We tested the top-grade Ultra in the H9 range when it came to live with my family for a week.  

Haval H9 2019: ULTRA
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency10.9L/100km
Seating7 seats
Price from$44,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

The Haval H9 Ultra's design is not pioneering any new style standards but it’s a good looking beast and far more handsome than those rivals I’ve mentioned above.

I like the gigantic grille and chunky front bumper, the tall, flat roofline and even those tall tail-lights. I also like the fact the red background of the Haval badge hasn't been kept in this update.

The Haval H9 Ultra's design is not pioneering any new style standards. The Haval H9 Ultra's design is not pioneering any new style standards.

There are some nice touches you won’t find on rivals at this price such as the puddle lamps which burn a laser projected ‘Haval’ into the footpath.

Okay, it’s not burnt into the ground, but it’s intense. There are also the illuminated door sills. Small things that make the experience a bit special and match the tough but premium exterior looks – like its insides.  

There are some nice touches you won’t find on rivals. There are some nice touches you won’t find on rivals.

The cabin looks plush and high-end from the floor mats to the panoramic sunroof, but some elements lack a high-quality feel such as the shifter and switchgear for the windows and climate control.

The cabin looks plush and high-end. The cabin looks plush and high-end.

Haval has obviously worked hard to get the look right, now it would be good to see if the touch and feel points can also be bettered.

The H9 is the king of the Haval line-up and it’s also the biggest at 4856mm long, 1926mm wide and 1900mm tall.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

The Haval H9 Ultra is super practical and that's not just because it's big. There are larger SUVs with far less practicality. It's the way the Haval H9 is packaged that's impressive.

For starters, I can sit in all three rows without my knees touching the seatbacks, and I'm 191cm tall. Headroom is getting tighter in the third row, but that's normal in a seven-seat SUV and there's more than enough space for my noggin when in the pilot's seat and middle row.

Cabin storage is great with six cupholders on board (two up front, two in the middle row and two for the back seats). There's a large bin under the centre console armrest up front and more hidey holes around the gear shifter, a flip-out tray for those in the second row and big bottle holders in the doors.

There's a large bin under the centre console armrest up front. There's a large bin under the centre console armrest up front.

Entry and exit to the second row is made easy thanks to the wide-opening, tall doors and my four-year old son could climb into his seat by himself thanks to the rugged and grippy side steps.

Entry and exit to the second row is made easy thanks to the wide-opening. Entry and exit to the second row is made easy thanks to the wide-opening.

Third-row seats are powered to lower and raise them into position, too.

There are air vents for all three rows, and controls for the climate in the second row.

Cargo storage is also impressive. With all three rows of seats in place there's enough room in the boot for a few small bags, but fold the third row down and you'll be given much more space.

  • Boot size is versatile with the back row folded down or in place. Boot size is versatile with the back row folded down or in place.
  • Fold the third row down and there is plenty of extra boot space. Fold the third row down and there is plenty of extra boot space.
  • With all three rows of seats in place there's enough room in the boot for a few small bags. With all three rows of seats in place there's enough room in the boot for a few small bags.
  • Boot space with the third row down. Boot space with the third row down.
  • Boot space with the third row up. Boot space with the third row up.
  • Third row seats in place. Third row seats in place.

We picked up a 3.0-metre long roll of synthetic turf and it fit in easily with the right side second-row seat folded, still leaving us with plenty of room for our son to sit in his child seat on the left.

A 3.0-metre long roll of synthetic turf fit easily into the boot. A 3.0-metre long roll of synthetic turf fit easily into the boot.

Now the drawbacks. Access to the third row is affected by the 60/40 split of the second row with the larger folding section being on the road side.

Also the side-hinged tailgate makes it impossible to fully open if somebody parks too close behind you.  

And there's a lack of charging points on board - with only one USB port and no wireless charging pad.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   9/10

The Ultra is the top grade in the Haval H9 line-up and lists for $44,990, before on-road costs.

At the time of writing you could have the H9 for $45,990 drive-away,  and depending on when you’re reading this that offer may still be in place, so check with the dealer.

The H9 comes with an 8.0-inch screen. The H9 comes with an 8.0-inch screen.

As a point of reference, the Lux is the base grade H9 and lists for $40,990 before on-road costs.

Coming standard in the H9 is an 8.0-inch screen, ‘eco-leather’ seats, nine-speaker Infinity sound system, rear privacy glass, xenon headlights, laser puddle lights, proximity unlocking, three-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats (with massage function), heated second row seats, panoramic sunroof, illuminated scuff plates, aluminium pedals, matt alloy roof rails, side steps and 18-inch alloys.

The Haval features 18-inch alloys. The Haval features 18-inch alloys.

That’s a stack of standard features for this price, but you’re not getting a whole lot more by going for the Ultra compared to the Lux.

Really, it comes down to brighter headlights, heated second row seats, power front seats and a better stereo. My advice is if the Ultra is too expensive, fear not because the Lux is extremely well kitted out.

Rivals to the Haval H9 Ultra include the SsangYong Rexton ELX, Toyota Fortuner GX, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLX or Isuzu MU-X LS-M. All list for around that $45K mark.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   6/10

The Haval H9 Ultra is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine making 180kW/350Nm. That's the only engine in the line-up and if you're wondering why a diesel isn't offered, then you're not the only one.

If you're asking where the diesel is you're probably wondering how much petrol the H9 uses, and I have the answers for you under the next heading.

Shifting gears smoothly is an eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF, the same company chosen by brands such as Jaguar Land Rover and BMW

The Haval H9 Ultra is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine. The Haval H9 Ultra is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine.

The H9's ladder frame chassis and four-wheel drive system (with low range) are the right ingredients for a capable off-roader. During my time with the H9, however, I stayed on the bitumen. 

The H9 comes with selectable drive modes including 'Sport', 'Sand', 'Snow' and 'Mud'. There's a hill descent feature, too. 

The braked towing capacity of the H9 is 2500kg and Haval says the maximum fording depth is 700mm.

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

I travelled 171.5km in the H9 but in my 55km loop of motorways and urban roads I used 6.22 litres of petrol, which comes to 11.3L/100km (the on-board read-out said 11.1L/100km).  

That's not terrible for a seven-seat SUV. Admittedly, I was the only person on board and the vehicle wasn't loaded up. You can expect that fuel figure to rise with more cargo and people piling in.

The official combined cycle fuel consumption claim for the H9 is 10.9L/100km, while the tank has an 80-litre capacity.

A pleasant surprise is that the H9 has a fuel-saving stop-start system, but a not-so pleasant surprise is that it needs to be fed a minimum of 95 RON premium fuel.

What's it like to drive?   6/10

The H9's ladder frame chassis will work to its advantage off the road, providing good rigidity, but as with any body-on-frame vehicle on-road dynamics aren't going to be its forte.

So, the ride is soft and comfortable (the rear multi-link suspension set up would be a major part of that) the overall driving experience can be a little agricultural. These aren't show-stopping issues, and you'll find the same in a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport or Isuzu MU-X.

More disappointing are the things Haval could easily fix. The seats are flat and not the most comfortable, the steering is a little slow, and that engine has to work hard and isn't particularly responsive.

The seats are flat and not the most comfortable. The seats are flat and not the most comfortable.

There are also some strange quirks, too. The altimeter read-out said I was at 8180m driving through Marrickville in Sydney (Everest is 8848m) and the auto parking system is more of a guide which tells you how to park rather than doing it for you.

Imagine being 16 again and being coached by your mum or dad and you've got the idea.

That said the H9 handled life with my family without breaking a sweat. It's easy to drive, with good visibility, great insulation from the outside world and excellent headlights (the Ultra gets the brighter 35-watt xenons).

The H9 handled life with my family without breaking a sweat. The H9 handled life with my family without breaking a sweat.

So while it's not the most adept and comfortable car on the road, I feel the H9 could be better suited to off-roading adventures. As I mentioned earlier, I only tested it's on-road performance, but keep an eye out for any future off-road tests we do with the H9.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

7 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

When the Haval H9 was tested by ANCAP in 2015 it received a four-star rating from a possible five. In 2018 Haval updated the safety tech on board and all H9s now come standard with lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane changing assist, AEB and adaptive cruise control.

It's great to see that this equipment has been added, although the H9 has not yet been re-tested and we're yet to see how it would score with the updated tech.

Also coming standard are front and rear parking sensors.

For child seats you'll find three top tether points and two ISOFIX mounts in the second row.

A full-sized alloy wheel is located under the car - as you can see in the images. 

A full-sized alloy wheel is located under the car. A full-sized alloy wheel is located under the car.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

The Haval H9 is covered by a seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended at six month/10,000km intervals. 

Verdict

There's a lot to like about the Havel H9 - it's great value, practical and spacious, packed with advanced safety tech, and also darn good looking. More comfortable seats would be an improvement and so would a better feel to the cabin materials and switchgear. 

As for the H9's on-road performance - the 2.0-litre engine isn't the most responsive and the ladder frame chassis limits its dynamics.

So, unless you need an off-road SUV the H9 is borderline overkill in the city, where you could step into something without four-wheel drive and with more car-like comfort and handling. 

Would you have a Haval H9 over a Toyota Fortuner? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

 

Pricing Guides

$42,990
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$40,990
Highest Price
$44,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
LUX 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $40,990 2019 Haval H9 2019 LUX Pricing and Specs
ULTRA 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $44,990 2019 Haval H9 2019 ULTRA Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.3
Design8
Practicality8
Price and features9
Engine & trans6
Fuel consumption6
Driving6
Safety8
Ownership7
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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