If there is one thing we've learned from the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, it's that if you want to be top of the pops in the medium SUV segment, then you need an electrified powertrain.
And if there's one thing we've learned about Haval, it's that they're fast learners, which is why a new H6 Hybrid variant has already touched down in Australia, beating big-name brands like Hyundai and Mazda to the electrified mid-size SUV party in our market.
So, can the H6 Hybrid take it to the Toyota? Lets find out.
Price and features - Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
At first glance, the H6 Hybrid isn’t actually that cheap, given its $45,990 drive-away price point means you can climb into the cheapest RAV4 Hybrid or Subaru Forester Hybrid for around the same — or even less — money.
The H6 Hybrid rides on 19-inch alloy wheels.
The difference, though, is the electrified H6 is based on the Ultra variant, which means you get a lot of fancy stuff for your investment, and a genuinely premium-feeling cabin.
Inside is a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster.
Honestly, you’ll want for little in the H6 Hybrid, and you won’t be troubling the options list.
Design - Is there anything interesting about its design?
Regular readers would know that I’ve run a little hot and cold on H6 styling in the past, and especially on their front-end treatments, which are usually dripping with bright bling that doesn't work for everyone.
The solid rear light bar looks mega at night.
The H6 Hybrid, though, is my favourite treatment to date, with a slightly (but only just) more understated design that includes black-and-white cat-caw swipes at either edge of the bonnet. It rides on fairly simple 19-inch wheels, and I absolutely love the front DRL designs and the solid light bar at the back, which looks mega at night.
The H6's styling has received mixed reactions.
Inside, that theme of considered understatement continues. Most of the key car stuff is controlled through a big 12.3-inch touchscreen, the instrument cluster is a second big screen in front of the driver, and there’s a head-up display, too, all of which contribute to an undeniably premium feel in the cabin, both in the materials, and in the layered way they've been put to use.
Practicality - How practical is the space inside?
Practicality is a real perk of the H6 range, and this one is no different.
There is a strong 600 litres of luggage space at the back with the rear-seats in place, or 1485L with them folded flat – which is the same as the other H6 models.
There’s a ton of space in the backseat for rear riders. The front-seat design ensures there’s plenty of leg room, and even those much taller than my 175cm will find plenty of headroom, too.
There's plenty of cabin space in the H6.
Pull down the seat divider to unlock the twin cupholders, plug in via the rear USB ports, and angle your rear vents for maximum cooling, and you’ve got a pretty comfy backseat experience here.
There are also two cupholders up front, bottle holders in the pockets of each door, and ISOFIX attachment points in each window seat in the back.
Seriously, if you’ve got the kids back of the H6 Ultra Hybrid, you’re unlikely to hear much in the way of complaints.
Drivetrain - What are the key stats for the drivetrain?
Gone is the engine from the regular H6, and in its place is a smaller 1.5-litre turbo. It combines with a 1.76kWh battery and an electric motor. All up, Haval says you’ll get 179kW and 530Nm, fed through a two-speed Dedicated Hybrid Transmission - which Haval describes as like having twin CVTs working together - to power the front wheels.
Energy consumption - How much does it consume? What’s the range like, and what it’s like to recharge/refuel?
Haval reckons you’ll get 5.2L/100km on the combined cycle, but we’ve been averaging mote like 6.2L over the past 300km or so, and more like 8.0L when we’re mostly driving in suburbia.
The Haval's 61-litre fuel tank also accepts cheap 91RON fuel, so that’s a definite bonus.
Fuel consumption is pegged at 5.2L/100km on the combined cycle.
Safety - What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
There’s a couple of cool things to point out on the safety front, the first being what Haval calls its Mobile Eye Q4 autonomous driving chip which, along with a barrage of camera and radars, delivers a Level 2+ autonomous driving experience, with adaptive cruise control, intelligent cruise assist and intelligent cornering.
There's also self-parking - which works, albeit slowly - as well as a high-tech safety suite that includes AEB with pedestrian, cyclist and cross-street detection, and rear-cross traffic alert.
Put it this way, if you're in the market for a Haval H6, then you should be in the market for the Hybrid model.
The combination of a smaller engine, a steadier power delivery, and the dual-speed gearbox makes for much smoother acceleration, mostly erasing the bugbears you find behind the wheel of the other Haval models.
To quickly recap, other H6 models, those powered exclusively by petrol, have an undeniably lumpy power delivery, with a long moment of nothingness when you plant your right foot, followed by a surge of grunt that can get the front tyres screeching.
The Hybrid feels smoother compared to a regular H6.
The H6 Hybrid? Not so much. It feels much smoother, more gentle, but still not slow or underdone on the power front.
Weirdly, I also prefer the CVT transmission in the Haval, too, which has a smoother delivery of power, with a second gear to help alleviate some of the drone-like tendencies you can find in that other CVTs.
It's still not dynamically perfect. For one, you somehow feel like you're sitting on the H6, rather than in it, which is a feeling not helped by steering that isn't best in class, either.
The H6 could benefit from some local suspension tuning.
And the front tyres, and especially the front right, still loves to break traction from time to time, which seems to be just a dynamic quirk of the H6, not matter what's powering it.
And I still think it could benefit from some local suspension tuning, with the rear suspension clanging over bigger bumps, like table-top speed bumps.
But in this Ultra Hybrid these feel more like quirks over deal-breakers, making it, for mine, the absolute pick of the H6 bunch.
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