Haval H9 VS BMW X1
- Ride and gearbox both great
- Space galore
- Unbeatable value proposition
- Some electrical gremlins
- Huge lag when taking off
- A longer warranty with public capped-price servicing would help
- Roomy cabin
- Big boot
- Easy to drive
- No AEB
- Small screen in all but the top grade
From almost the moment carmakers began popping up in China, we've talked of the soon-to-arrive boom in Chinese new-car sales in Australia.
They're coming, we said. And no, they're not much chop right now, but they'll get better and better and better, until they're one day giving the best from Japan and Korea a run for their money.
That was years ago now, and the truth is, they never really got good enough to seriously rattle any cages here in Oz. They inched closer, sure, but there was still a heap of daylight between them and the competition.
But we've just spent a week piloting the updated Haval H9 large SUV, and we can report that the gap hasn't just shrunk, it's near-enough vanished, the daylight reduced to a sliver in lots of important areas.
So is this the beginning of the Chinese revolution?
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The BMW X1 is the base camp at the foot of the German brand’s SUV model mountain, but there's more to it than entry-point affordability.
And there are many other surprises from this small and seemingly sensible and small member of BMW’s X family.
Want to know more? Then read this range review of the X1.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
The Haval H9 Ultra is proof that Chinese cars are at last living up to the hype. The value proposition is unbelievable, and a five-year warranty helps calm any ownership concerns. Is it bang-on against the competition? Not quite. Not yet. But you can be sure that other vehicles in the segment can feel the H9's hot breath on the back of their necks.
Would you consider a Haval, or do you still doubt the Chinese? Tell us in the comments below.
The X1 is a small, sensible, practical member of BMW’s SUV family – it’s also the most affordable and the value for money is good. But don’t worry, the X1 is a real BMW, right down to the driving dynamics and craftmanship.
The sweet spot in the X1 range is actually the entry grade sDrive18i as it comes with nearly all the features you'll see on the rest for a lot less money.
The X1 is up against some tough competition. Would you choose a Mercedes-Benz GLA or Audi Q3 over an X1? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
It's a big and slab-sided beast, the H9, and it's unlikely to win too many beauty contests. But then, few in this category do, or attempt to, and it looks tough and purposeful, which is probably more important.
Front on, it looks positively massive, with its giant and silver-slatted grille, huge headlights and a jumbo foglight perched like alien eyes in the furthest corners of the front end.
From the side, lashings of silver (a touch too blingy for our tastes) break up an otherwise fairly bland profile, with the rubber-gripped sidesteps a nice touch. From the back, a large and largely unremarkable rear end is home to a massive, side-hinged boot opening, with the pull handle mounted to the far left.
It's not perfect in places, though, with some panels that don't quite match up, and more gaps between others than we'd like, but you have to look closely to notice.
Inside, the fit and finish is pretty good, with a giant faux-wood centre console home to a one-touch gear lever, an electric handbrake (a luxury still missing in some Japanese models) and most of the four-wheel-drive functions. The "eco" leather on the seats and the soft-touch dash are both nice under the touch, as is the steering wheel, and the second and third rows are pleasantly furnished, too.
Nope the X1 is the sensible one in the family and in many ways this is a strength and you can read all about its practical side below.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a prestige car and it looks it outside and inside where the premium feeling interior is well-crafted.
Take a look at the interior images. BMW fans will know the dash layout well – that large centre stack of climate control and media, but the scooped-out centre console design is new to this generation and looks great.
All X1s come fitted with the 'xLine' package which adds Pearl Dark and Peal Chrome trim elements, and aluminium door sills.
At 4439mm long, 2060mm wide (with mirrors) and 1598mm tall, the X1 is 79mm longer end-to-end than the X2, about the same width, and 70mm taller. So yes, the dimensions - exterior and interior - show that even though the X2 sits higher in the SUV line-up, the X1 is bigger in size.
An M Sport package can be optioned for $3000 and adds a tough-looking body kit with side skirts and a more aggressive front bumper, plus adaptive dampers and sport seats.
Only two paint colours are no-cost options – 'Alpine White' and black, but both look great. Metallic paint will cost you $1547, but ticking that box unlocks more colours such as 'Sunset Orange', 'Mediterranean Blue', 'Atlantic Grey', 'Sparkling Brown' and 'Glacier Silver', but no red.
Very practical, thanks for asking. It's a behemoth (4856m long, 1926mm wide and 1900mm high), so space is really no problem in the cabin.
Up front, there are the prerequisite brace of cupholders, mounted in a centre console so wide you could play football on it, and the seats are big and comfortable (and they'll give you a massage to boot). There is room in the front doors for bottles, and the infotainment, while a little slow and clunky, is easy to understand and operate.
Climb into the second row and there's heaps of space (both leg and headroom) for passengers, and you can, without doubt, fit three kids across the back. There is a storage net on the rear of each of the front seats, room for bottles in the doors and two more cupholders in the pulldown divider.
There's no shortage of niceties for backseat riders, too, with air vents and temperature controls and heated rear seats. And there are two ISOFIX points, one in each window seat.
Things aren't so luxurious for third-row passengers, with thin-and-hard seats mounted in cramped surrounds. But there are third-row vents and a cupholder for seats six and seven.
The side-hinged boot opens to reveal a laughably small storage space with the third row in place, but things improve considerably when you flatten (electronically, no less) the rear seats, with a gigantic storage area that will have your phone ringing hot every time one of your friends is moving house.
Now we’re talking. The X1 uses the same the platform as the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer which is a mini people mover and inherits many of its good practicality points. That’s one of the reasons why the X1 has more head and legroom in the front and back than an X3.
Even at 191cm tall I can sit behind my driving position with about 30mm knee room to spare and could wear a top hat at the same time.
Okay, boot space dimensions. The X1’s cargo capacity falls short of the X3’s by 45 litres at 505 litres, but that’s 35 litres more than the boot size of the X2. A Merc GLA has far less boot space at 421 litres, and the Audi Q3’s luggage capacity is 460 litres.
Storage throughout the cabin is great with two cupholders in the back and two up front, large bottle holders in the doors, fold-out storage in the back row and a tray under the centre armrest in the front.
If you have small children or you’re not the gymnast you used to be you’ll like the ride height of the X1 – it’s not sky-high like many large SUVs and you’re not sitting on the ground; you almost walk in and shut the door.
Price and features
Let's be honest, Haval hasn't been around anywhere near long enough in Australia to sell on anything even resembling badge loyalty. So if it is any hope of increasing its 50-odd sales a month (March 2018), it knows it has to sweeten the pot on price.
And it doesn't get much sweeter than the $44,990 sticker glued to the H9 Ultra. That's about $10k cheaper than the cheapest Prado (and a staggering $40k cheaper than the most-expensive version), and the Ultra is absolutely swimming with kit for the money.
Outside, the alloy wheels are 18 inches, there are LED daytime running lights, front and rear fog lamps, dusk-sensing headlights with a follow-me-home function and standard roof rails.
Inside, the faux-leather seats are heated in the first two rows (and ventilated in the front), and there's even a massage function for the driver and passenger. The windows are powered, as is the fold-flat function for the third row, and there's a sunroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel and aluminium pedals, too.
On the tech front, an 8.0-inch touchscreen (but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto) is paired with a 10-speaker stereo, and there is standard navigation, keyless entry and push-button start.
Finally, there's a heap of safety and off-roading kit, but we'll come back to that under our other sub-headings.
How much does the X1 cost? Let’s take a look at the price list. The X1 is the most affordable model in BMW’s SUV line-up and kicks off with the sDrive18i ($45,900 RRP), stepping up to the only diesel in the range, the sDrive18d ($49,900), followed by the sDrive20i ($53,600) and the top-of-the-range, and only all-wheel drive (AWD) variant, the xDrive25i ($61,500). Dealerships will often do driveaway deals and don’t be afraid to ask for their best price.
How much are second hand X1s going for? Well, at the time of writing there were four 2016 model X1s on carsguide.com.au, including an xDrive25i listed for $44,888. That should give you an idea about the X1’s resale value, too.
An inside tip on BMW SUVs is that the lower grades in the range come with most of the standard features you’ll find on the top-spec models, so really, the extra dollars buy you an engine with more grunt or AWD, which improves the on-road experience.
Here I’ll show you. The entry grade sDrive18i, and its diesel twin the sDrive18d, come standard with LED cornering headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails (roof racks), a power tailgate, auto parking system (self parking/park assist), front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control.
Inside, these grades have a leather sports steering wheel, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with sat nav, reversing camera, six-speaker stereo, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning, cargo cover and floor mats.
The sDrive20i has all of this and adds dual-zone climate control, a luggage net, a dimming rear view mirror and an ambient lighting package.
If you want to feel like an ant under a magnifying glass, you can option the $1627 panoramic sunroof.
Engine & trans
It's like a diesel in disguise, this 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, making 180kW at 5500rpm and 350Nm at 1800rpm. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and drives all four wheels. That means a sprint to 100km/h of "just over 10 seconds” - about two seconds faster than the car it replaces.
Haval's All-Terrain Control System is also standard, meaning you can choose between six drive settings, including Sport, Mud or 4WD Low.
Remember the pricing and how the features didn’t seem to match the dollars? Well here’s where a lot of your money goes – drivetrains. Oh, and by the way, the ‘s’ in sDrive means the SUV is front-wheel drive while the ‘x’ xDrive means, yes, it’s an AWD.
The sDrive18i has a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine and makes 103kW/220Nm. Shifting gears is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. BMW says the 0-100km/h ‘sprint’ takes a leisurely 9.6 seconds.
The sDrive18d is the diesel version of the 18i and its 2.0-litre four cylinder makes 110kW/330Nm. According to BMW 0-100km/h arrives in a slightly brisker 9.2 seconds. An eight-speed traditional auto shifts more smoothly but slower than the dual clutch.
The sDrive20i has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine making 141kW/280Nm, using the same seven-speed dual clutch as the 18i. The 20i is noticeably quicker with a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds.
Want something faster, more powerful and AWD? The xDrive25i also has a 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder but it’s been dialled up to make 170kW/350Nm and is more than a second quicker to 100km/h than the 20i at 6.5 seconds. Shifting gears is BMW’s eight-speed sport automatic.
Haval reckons you'll get 10.9 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle, with emissions a claimed 254g/km. The H9's 80-litre tank will only accept premium 95RON fuel, which is a shame.
Well it depends how you drive it, but officially BMW says the 18i uses 5.4L/100km, the diesel 18d is the most frugal at 4.7L/100km, while the 20i is thirstier at 6.2L/100km and the 25i is (as expected) even more so at 6.6L/100km.
When we drove the 18d our mainly urban use saw the trip computer reporting an average 10.6L/100km, while the top-of-the-range 25i used an average of 12.1L/100km in a week of city-centric duties.
We did a lot of kilometres in the Haval (perhaps subconsciously we were waiting for it to fall over), and over all sorts of road conditions, and it never skipped a beat.
The obvious standout is the ride, which is now very good, and disposes of CBD bumps and corrugations without fuss. At no stage does it feel dynamic or overly connected to the road, but it creates a comfortable disconnect that makes you feel you're floating above the ground. Not good for a performance car, sure, but it suits the character of the big Haval just fine.
The steering has a wafty vagueness, though, and it doesn't inspire confidence on anything twisty, with plenty of corrections when you're tackling something challenging.
The rolling delivery of power is surprisingly strong and smooth when you plant your foot. But there are downsides to a small turbocharged engine shoving the size of a block of flats around. For one, the engine has this staggering delay when you first plant your foot from a standstill - as though you're playing chess with the engine and it is figuring out its next move - before finally surging into life. It makes overtaking moves a heart-stopping challenge at times.
The petrol engine (which does a remarkable job of masquerading as a diesel) can feel a little rough and rugged when you really plant your foot, too, and you'll find all the useable power lurking at the low-end of the rev range. It is bloody comfortable, though. The vision is very good out of all windows, including the rear windscreen. And the gearbox is terrific, seamlessly and smoothly swapping cogs.
But... there were some electrical gremlins. For one, the proximity unlocking is the weirdest we've encountered - sometimes it works, other times its more complicated, and you need a textbook to figure out how it talks to the boot. The alarm went off twice despite me unlocking the doors, too. It might be some user error that I don't understand, but worth mentioning either way.
You could pick any of these X1s to take home and you’ll be happy with the driving experience. From the 18i to the 25i the ride is comfortable and composed, but the performance varies depending on which grade you’re piloting.
The 18d’s diesel engine is a bit noisy, but the cabin insulation cuts most of the clatter out. The 18d's tyres grip well in the corners, but while the steering feels smooth and accurate, it lacks road feel, and that goes for all X1s and many BMWs in general. Still, all X1s are engaging and easy to drive.
Does the 18d feel like it lacks grunt? Nope, 330Nm is heaps. It’s a shame we don’t get the 18d in AWD. Our steep test hill saw the 18d struggle to maintain traction under hard accleration, while the all-paw 25i powered up with no wheel spinning.
The 20i like the 18i and 18d is front-wheel drive only, but unless you’re accelerating hard uphill or in the wet from a standstill you're not likely to notice.
All X1s have hill start assist which will stop you from rolling back on steep gradients.
The 25i is the performance pick, that engine and eight-speed transmission are perfectly suited.
A turning circle (radius) of 11.4m is about par for the small SUV course.
A ground clearance of 183mm gives it an extra 20mm over say a BMW 3 Series, which is just enough to get you places a sedan would fear to tread.
What’s the X1’s wading depth? Wait, what? Where are you thinking of taking it? If you must ford a river (please try to find a bridge instead), the wading depth of the X1 is 250mm.
The safety story starts with dual front and front-side airbags, as well as curtain bags that stretch across all three rows. You'll also find a revising camera, as well as front and rear parking sensors.
Happily, Haval has also embraced the newer technologies, so you'll get lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring. Off-road, hill descent control is standard, and Haval claims a safe fording depth of 700mm.
The H9 received a four-star ANCAP crash rating when the outgoing model was tested in 2015.
The X1 scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2015. You’ll find the usual traction and stability controls, plus a suite of airbags, as well as lane departure and forward collision warning.
But it doesn’t come with AEB or other advanced safety equipment such as blind spot warning and rear-cross traffic alert. This is a weakness for the X1, because this type of technology is becoming common place.
For child and baby car seats there are three top-tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts in the second row.
Where is the X1 built? The X1 is made in Germany at BMW’s Leipzig plant.
The X1 is covered by BMW’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Condition based servicing and maintenance means your X1 will tell you when it needs a check-up. Owners can purchase a servicing package. The 'Basic' package costs $1340 while the 'Plus' package is $2500 more.