Haval H9 VS BMW X2
- 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
- Great styling
- Fun and agile to drive
- Practicality not compromised too much
- Tyre noise
- Less practical than an X1
- No AEB
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|
Every other review of the new BMW X2 will start by telling you that last year SUVs outsold regular cars, not just within the German brand’s own sales department, but for the whole Australian car market, and they’ll go on and on.
But you’re busy and we’re not going to do that. You’re here because you’ve seen one of those billboards or TV ads for the BMW X2, or one on the road. You want to know what it is and whether you need this small SUV in your life rather than an Audi Q2, Mercedes-Benz GLA or Volvo XC40.
You’re in luck, we drove the sDrive20i, which is the most powerful X2, at its Australian launch and there’s so much to tell you.
We’ll answer such questions as: Is it as fast as it looks? Is it possible for a 191cm tall man to sit in the back without having surgery first? We’ll even reveal which of the world’s least attractive BMWs is its twin-under-the-skin.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
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.
That BMW can take one of it’s least good looking and docile cars and create something which is not only gorgeous but engaging to drive is impressive. The X2 does lose some of the practicality of its twin-under-the-skin sibling, and if you have a small family, buying the X1 would be the sensible thing to do. But then again, not all practicality is lost in the X2. There’s just enough room in the back for tall people like me and that boot capacity is still good for the class.
Would you pick an X2 over an Audi Q2? 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.
Oh, heck yes, there’s a lot that’s interesting about the X2’s design. Actually, I reckon it’s one of the most interesting BMWs in years.
For starters, the exterior has stayed pretty true to the adventurous look of X2 Concept we glimpsed for the first time back in 2016 at the Paris Motor Show.
There’s that short-for-a-BMW beak; that grille which is unique for the brand in that it's wider at the base than at the top; there’s that wedged profile and the short rear overhang; the dual exhaust tips and then there’s BMW badge placed on the C-Pillar just like beautiful Bimmers of the past such as the 1973 3.0CS.
BMW could have easily created a mini version of an X4 or X6 models, but didn’t, which in my books is a good thing because this X2 look gorgeous and better than the Mini Countryman, the Audi Q2 and Benz GLA in my eyes.
What makes the X2’s design even more impressive is that under its metal skin this car is almost identical to one of the ugliest (well, I think so) BMWs ever made - the X1. They share the same platform, even the same structure, but the only exterior parts the two have in common are the door handles and the shark fin antenna.
The X2's dimensions show it to be 79mm shorter in length end-to-end that the X1, but just 3mm wider at 1824mm and 70mm shorter in height. So it's smaller in size, but not by much.
Inside the similarities are obvious, actually the interior of the X2 is almost identical to the X1 – there’s the ‘carved out’ centre console area and the large, flat dash which will be familiar to all BMW owners.
The sDrive20i has that premium cabin feel, and doesn’t even hint of having been done on the cheap to bring the price down.
I reckon the X2 sDrive20i looks better with the M-Sport package, that super-sharp front splitter is the business, and also I’m not a fan of yellow stitching.
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.
The X2 shares the same platform as the super practical X1. So, did the X2 gain good looks and lose practicality? After all, isn’t it a law of nature that you can’t be good looking and practical at the same time?
Well, the X2 is shorter in length than the X1 and its boot space is 23 litres smaller, too, with a capacity of 470 litres. The wheelbase of a car often determines cabin space and the X2’s 2670mm is the same as the X1, but legroom behind my driving position in the X2 was less than the in the X1.
I’m 191cm tall and had about 20mm of air between my knees and the seat back in the X2 – you can add another 15mm for the X1.
Headroom in the X2 is also limited due to the sloping roofline, with my hair just skimming the ceiling. That coupe styling also affects visibility for rear passengers through the side windows which are high and small. The X1 has large, rear window with low sills – great for kids in the back.
Up front, the cockpit is roomy with good storage space including two cupholders, and a large tray under the folding centre armrest. There are two more cupholders for the rear seats and all doors have large pockets with bottles holders.
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 is a BMW X2? Well BMW has brought one version of the X2 to Australia, for now – it’s the sDrive20i, a petrol powered, front-wheel drive, and it lists (RRP) for $55,900 (before on-road costs). Just to be clear, this isnt' a 'launch edition', but the first variant of the X2 to arrive in Australia.
Later in 2018 an sDrive18i will take its place at the entry-point of the range, and the xDrive20d diesel all-wheel drive will slip into the top spot in the X2 line-up, with price lists and specs to be announced closer to their launch.
The sDrive20i does sit high in the X2 range and that means it’s not short on features. Coming standard is a 6.5-inch touchscreen with sat nav and a reversing camera, there’s a 100W stereo with digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, Alcantara and cloth upholstery, sports front seats, M-Sport steering wheel, air-conditioning, auto parking system, front and rear parking sensors, LED headlights, and a power tailgate.
When you buy the sDrive20i it will come fitted with the 'M-Sport X' package as standard and that adds tough looking ‘Frozen Grey’ cladding to the front and rear bumpers, aas well as the door sills and wheelarches.
BMW has banked on not everybody being a fan of the grey bits and as a no-cost option you can have the X2 with the 'M-Sport' package. This adds an M-Sport aero kit with a more motorsport inspired front splitter and diffuser, and inserts in a hue BMW calls 'Dark Shadow'. Both packages come with 19-inch light alloy wheels in slightly different styles.
The interiors of both M-Sport X and M-Sport cars are identical save for the contrasting yellow stitching on the former's upholstery, whereas the latter has blue stitching and an aluminium interior trim.
An optional 'Innovations Package' ($2600) adds a more sophisticated sat nav system, head-up display and adaptive cruise control.
The 'Comfort Package' ($2700) brings a proximity key, plus heated and power-adjusted driver and front passenger seats.
The 'Style Plus Package' ($3300) and will see your X2 rolling on 20-inch wheels, with a panoramic sunroof and metallic paintwork.
Talking of paint colours, only 'Alpine White' is free. Well, it doesn’t cost extra. If you want any other colour it will be a metallic one and it will cost you $1547. But that opens up 'Sunset Orange', 'Galvanic Gold', 'Misano Blue', 'Mediterranean Blue', 'Sparkling Storm', 'Mineral Grey' and 'Black Sapphire'.
At $55,900 the sDrive20i is pricey compared to its Audi Q2 rival – the 2.0TFSI Quattro sport is $48,500.
Also keep in mind that an X1 with the same engine lists for $53,600 and it shares so much of the same DNA. How much? Prepare to have your mind blown in the section below.
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.
The sDrive20i has a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine with 141kW of power and 280Nm of torque.
The ‘s’ in sDrive means this is a front-wheel drive car. Same goes for the sDrive18i which has a 103kW/220Nm three-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine.
BMW has told us little about the other X2 variants but has given us the engine specifications. The xDrive20d is, you guessed it, all-wheel drive (awd) and has a 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo-diesel engine which is good for 140kW/400Nm. That's less horsepower but more torque than the 20i.
Both petrol variants use a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, while the diesel uses a traditional eight-speed automatic.
BMW says the 20i and 20d accelerate from 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds, which isn’t slow (but isn’t super faster, either) while the 18i will get there, eventually, at 9.6sec.
The braked towing capacity for the sDrive18i, sDrive 20i and xDrive20d is 1700kg, 1800kg and 2000kg respectively.
There is no rear-wheel drive X2, although such a thing that would be great. And yes, no manual transmission.
The X2 weighs 1415kg in sDrive18i form, 1460kg for the sDrive20i and 1555kg for the xDrive20d.
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.
BMW says the sDrive20i should use 6.0L/100km over a combination of open and urban roads, which is good mileage. Our test car’s on-board computer told us it was averaging 7.2L/100km for fuel economy and that was on mainly country roads.
Official fuel consumption claims for the yet to be released sDrive18i and xDrive20d haven't been confirmed, but we’ll let you know just how thirsty they are as soon as we have the chance to drive them locally later in the year.
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.
The X2 and X1 share the same platform, structure and engines but feel entirely different to drive.
You can feel the difference from the moment you drop behind the X2’s wheel. You sit so much lower in this car – 20mm lower than the X1. That driving position makes you feel part of the car rather than riding on top of it as you do in the X1.
The X2’s ride height is also 10mm lower than the X1’s and this lowers the car’s centre of mass and improves handling. Ground clearance is 182mm.
BMW’s engineers wanted to give the X2 more agility than the X1, and did this by adding about 10 minutes of negative camber to the front wheels for better cornering ability. The addition of a swaybar with pre-loaded bushes to control body roll earlier meant softer dampers could be used for a more comfortable ride but still good handling.
The X2’s body is also 10 per cent stiffer than the X1’s, and this extra rigidity improves its agility, too.
It’s not the most powerful or quickest, not by a long shot, but it feels far more like a sedan because of that lack of the heaving body roll (common on bigger SUVs) and that low driving position.
Steering feel is superb, the larger SUVs feel like cruise ships with steering wheels that need to be spun endlessly to navigate through a corner, but the X2’s linear steering is sharp, consistent and turn-in is excellent.
Only the sDrive20i was available to drive at the launch and I can say the 2.0-litre engine is a good thing – good for overtaking, good for power up hills and good for country roads and darting through urban traffic.
We did all of this and the dual-clutch auto performed smoothly even in bumper-to-bumper traffic which can expose this type of transmission's jerky behaviour.
It’s not all perfect – there was a plenty of road noise from the large, low-profile run flat-tyres filtering into the cabin and the ride on them is a bit ‘gritty’ and hard.
I’m secretly hoping BMW will give the X2 something a bit more potent later on – maybe the straight six from the M140i hatch. An X2 M – a proper performance X2, now I’d want to drive that.
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 X2 has been awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP rating but be aware that it was given this score based on how the X1 performed when it was crash tested in 2015.
EuroNCAP and ANCAP felt that because both cars share the same platform and structure then only additional testing to the X2 was needed.
Safety technology has also come a long way since 2015 and the bar has been raised for achieving five star with AEB coming standard on many cars.
The X2 does not have AEB, nor is it available as an option, because the car uses cameras for vehicle and pedestrian detection, not radar which is needed for AEB.
There is a light braking function which slows the vehicle if a pedestrian is detected in the car's path or a collision is imminent with another car, but the system won’t bring the vehicle to a complete stop to avoid an impact. BMW said it felt certain that the X2 would meet five-star standards today.
You will find traction and stability control, plus run flat tyres.
For child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX mounts and three top-tether anchor points across the rear row.