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Haval H9


Kia Sportage

Summary

Haval H9

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?

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency12.1L/100km
Seating7 seats

Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage is a handsome, well-priced contender in a crowded mid-sized SUV market that includes the likes of the Mazda CX-5, Toyota's RAV4 and Hyundai's Tucson. The latest generation has, however, been lacking in a key area since its launch in 2016. Has Kia sorted the oversight with this facelifted model?

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.9L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Haval H97.1/10

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.


Kia Sportage7.9/10

Key improvements to the Sportage have made Kia's second best seller even better again, with more safety and a nicer ride the net result. There are plenty of variants to choose from, too.

Our pick is between the Si Premium in petrol or diesel - the AWD oiler is great if you have distance to cover, while the petrol powered car will be lighter and cheaper to maintain if you do your best work around town.

Do the changes to the Kia Sportage for 2018 change your opinion of the car? Let us know in the comments below.

Design

Haval H97/10

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.


Kia Sportage8/10

We're big fans of the Sportage's stylishly bold looks that are proportionate to its size, and thankfully Kia's designers haven't mucked about too much with an already good design.

For the exterior, the front end has been lightly massaged with a new grille design, while the HID headlights on the GT-Line have been dropped in favour of a full LED cluster. 

The fog lamp apertures on the Si and Si Premium have also been redone with sharper lines for more masculine look or, as Kia says, a bit more menace. They also now score LED daytime running lamps across the lineup.

Out back, the tail-light arrays have been tweaked, while the lower bumper has also been tidied up to better match with the chrome trim, as well. The GT-Line's rear faux skid plate has been changed, too.

New wheel designs have been added in all three sizes (17-, 18- and 19-inch in size) as well. Steel Grey is a new colour.

Interior wise, photos will reveal nothing has changed from the 2016 facelift, save for the addition of updated multimedia systems across the range and redesigned steering wheel. Interior dimensions were increased when the PE model was launched in 2016.

Practicality

Haval H98/10

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.


Kia Sportage8/10

Again, there are no changes to the packaging of Kia's clever little mid-size SUV. If you ever idly wonder 'how many seats does a Kia Sportage have?', the answer is just five.

Storage spaces are plentiful and clever in the Sportage, with two cup holders in the centre console, room for larger bottles in all four doors, as well as a pair of cup holders in the centre rear armrest. 

A pair of ISOFIX baby seat mounts are fitted to each of the rear outboard seats, but the centre rear sash belt is mounted in the ceiling, and it needs to be disconnected if you want to make the most of the large cargo space. It's a pain, to be honest, and it takes away from the car's otherwise good practicality.

The 60/40 split rear seats – which offer plenty of rear legroom even with the front seats ratcheted back - can't be dropped via switches in the rear cargo area, but they do slap down quickly and firmly with the pull of a lever on the sides of the rear seats to increase luggage capacity. 

There is 466 litres of boot space with the seats up – more than the sales-leading Mazda CX-5 – and 1455 litres of boot size in the full-flat position. Boot space dimensions remain the same.

The base Sportage does miss out on a few items that are on the higher grade cars, like an electronic handbrake, while the top-shelf GT Line gets an inductive wireless phone charging tray (Qi).

A cargo net and tie-down hooks can be found in the cargo area of the SLi and above models, and there's a full-sized spare underneath the boot floor on every model. There are also LED lights in the cabin throughout the range.

Despite the Sportage being a medium SUV in size, it fits four adults easily, and three across the rear at a pinch. The driving position is slightly higher than expected, but it's still well suited to both short and tall drivers. 

Controls for commonly-used systems, like the illumination controls for the dashboard, fall easily to hand, and aren't buried in the menu in the multimedia system.

New multimedia systems feature throughout, with a larger 8.0-inch screen for all models except for the base Si (it gets a 7.0-inch screen, but no CD player – what, you haven't heard of an MP3 player?), while all models can be teamed with smartphones via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There's also digital radio in the top spec car, along with smart adaptive cruise control.

Price and features

Haval H99/10

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.


Kia Sportage8/10

If you're currently asking yourself: 'Hmm. How much is a Kia Sportage?' The answer now is: 'Well, a little more expensive than before.'

The Sportage has jumped in price across the board, thanks mainly to the addition of new standard driver aids like auto emergency braking (AEB) and lane keep assist. Previously, these systems were only available aboard the top-spec GT Line.

Looking at all the Kia Sportage models, the entry level Si now costs $29,990 (up $1000) and its standard features include cloth seats, 17-inch alloys, reversing sensors and reversing camera (with moving guidelines), fog lights, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift, an updated 7.0-inch multimedia touch screen with Bluetooth and streaming, three 12-volt plugs and a USB port.

You can access your iPhone or Android equivalent via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, too.

A diesel version of the Si – complete with a new eight-speed auto and standard all-wheel-drive – will cost $35,390, an increase of $1400.

The Si Premium adds satellite navigation, front parking sensors, LED running lights, 18-inch alloys, an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, DAB digital radio and JBL premium sound system with eight speakers. The petrol version has an RRP of $32,390 (up $1400) and the diesel is $37,690.

There is a drive away price on the Si Premium of $31,990 and $37,390. If you ask nicely, you might also get a keener price on the other models in your price range.

The SLi petrol will cost you $36,790 (up $2100) and adds gadgets like an auto dimming rear view mirror, front sensors, LED DRLs, extra chrome trim, LED rear lights, electric handbrake, auto up on passenger front window, a 4.2-inch TFT dash screen, sat nav and automatic wipers. 

Diesel adds $5400 for a new total of $42,190 (an increase of $2500).

The price for the top of the range 2.4-litre Sportage GT-Line, meanwhile, is $44,790 (up $1300) or $47,690 (up $1700) in diesel form. It's well equipped, with leather seats, 19-inch alloys, AEB, lane departure warning, an automatic tailgate, keyless entry, auto lights and wipers, as well as gadgets like LED headlights and fog lamps, dual-zone climate control, GPS sat nav, vented and heated powered seats, a sunroof and park assist.

If you're looking for a particular colour, there are a few, including Clear White as standard, Steel Grey, Sparkling Silver, Fiery Red and Mercury Blue, while Snow White Pearl and Cherry Black are exclusive to GT-Line. All colours except Clear White add $520 to the price. Looking for orange or gold like in previous generations of the Sportage? Can't help, I'm afraid.

Engine & trans

Haval H96/10

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.


Kia Sportage7/10

Three engine specifications are available across the Kia Sportage range – which, if a friend asks 'where is the Kia Sportage built?', is made in Ulsan, South Korea.

The base 2.0-litre MPI petrol engine in the Si and SLi has been retained, which is a bit of a surprise – we half expected a more modern direct-injection unit to be subbed in. The engine specs of the base 2.0-litre MPI petrol engine in the Si and SLi are starting to show their age. 

It pushes out 114kW at 6200rpm and 192Nm at 4000rpm, and is backed by a six-speed automatic that drives the front wheels

Kia's common rail direct injection 2.0-litre turbo diesel specs, meanwhile, are 136kW at 4000rpm, while its 400Nm of torque is available from as low as 1750rpm. Its horsepower is available across the range.

Its new eight-speed auto is linked to a front-biased all wheel drive system that can send 40 per cent of torque to the rear wheels for extra 4WD traction.

The top grade GT-Line's engine size is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol, and sports ratings of 135kW at 6000rpm and torque specs of 237Nm at 4000rpm. It uses a six-speed auto and is only available with AWD. It's not offered with an LPG conversion from the factory.

Towing capacity of the 2.4-litre motor is 1500kg, the 2.0-litre petrol can tow 1600kg, while the diesel can move 1900kg of braked trailer; we will do a towing review soon, but it'll be fine with a small van or boat behind it.

There is no manual transmission available.

Curious about the diesel vs petrol sales breakdown? Kia Australia says the split is 35 per cent diesel, 65 per cent petrol. 

If you are wondering if the Kia Sportage uses a timing belt or chain, all variants of the engine use the latter. A chain is preferable to a timing belt as it gives a longer life.

When it comes to diesel problems, clutch problems or transmission problems, the Sportage has been a good performer since the latest generation launched in 2016. A JD Power reliability rating study ranks it well, with few problems, complaints, issues or common faults. Check out our Kia Sportage problems page for more.

Oil type and capacity varies with engine.

Fuel consumption

Haval H96/10

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.


Kia Sportage7/10

From a claimed combined fuel economy figure of 7.9 litres per 100km, we saw a best combined fuel economy figure on the dash of 10.1L/100km over 100km in the 2.0-litre petrol Si Premium.

Our diesel test, meanwhile, returned a best combined fuel economy mileage figure of 7.2L/100km over 150km, versus a claimed combined fuel consumption figure of 6.8L/100km.

The 2.4-litre engine is claimed to return a combined fuel economy figure of 8.5L/100km.

All Kia Sportage models have a fuel tank capacity of 62 litres, while the weight of the car varies between 1532kg for the 2.0-litre FWD, 1642kg for the 2.4-litre AWD and 1736kg for the AWD diesel.

Driving

Haval H97/10

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.


Kia Sportage8/10

Kia has taken the opportunity to further tweak the ride and handling of the Sportage to better suit our roads.

The steering gear ratio has very slightly changed, along with new bushes in the front MacPherson strut suspension and front sub-frame tweaks. The Sportage's German-made ZF Sachs dampers have been extensively reworked, as well, to give it a more comfortable ride. 

There is a little bit of difference in all three powertrains, too; there are lighter springs for the FWDs, heavier ones in the rear suspension for the AWD, and three unique different shock tunes for all three engines.

The Sportage is built for a life around town, and the lighter, front-drive, petrol-powered cars are perfect for it. 

The 2.0-litre engine gets thrashy when acceleration is needed up hills, though, with the auto occasionally confused by which ratio to pick and hold. 

Despite its age, the engine is still a very smooth and tractable unit when coasting around on light throttle, even though its 0-100 performance figures won't disturb a hot hatch.

The 2.4-litre engine fares better, though its AWD drivetrain does take the top edge of its ability to nip up hills.

The Sportage's diesel is light on its feet, even with the addition of the heavier AWD/eight-speed auto drivetrain. It's also impressively quiet, letting minimal road noise into the cabin. 

The suspension changes are small but meaningful, and it's the sum of a few small changes that make up the whole.

This is not an offroad or 4x4 review; after all, the capability of a road-going SUV in brown dirt is minimal at best. Its ground clearance of 172mm, for example, is about 50mm less than that of a Subaru XV, and Kia doesn't even suggest a safe wading depth for the Sportage.

Overall, the newly tweaked Sportage is a comfortable, stable and simple car to drive, with few of the compromises that sometimes come with a taller SUV.

Safety

Haval H97/10

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.


Kia Sportage8/10

The base spec Si, Si Premium and SLi have all gained vital electronic safety features including auto emergency braking (AEB) with forward collision warning, lane keep assist which works with the steering to keep the Sportage in a lane, and downhill speed control. 

Blind spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic parking is available in the top-spec Sportage Platinum GT-Line.

All Sportages also offer six airbags, including full-length curtain airbags, as well as front and rear parking sensors (rear only on Si) and a reversing camera. All cars also have full-sized spares.

A 'variance submission' has been submitted to ANCAP for the updated Sportage, with Kia hoping to receive a top five-star safety rating from ANCAP.

Ownership

Haval H97/10

Expect a five-year/100,000km warranty, with service intervals pegged at six months and 10,000km. Service costs are available at Haval dealerships, so be sure to check them out before you sign on the dotted line.


Kia Sportage9/10

Kia's seven-year warranty is still among the best in the automotive business, and it includes roadside assist and a free first service at three months.

Capped-price servicing covers the warranty period, as well, with $419 the lowest and $726 the highest service costs over four years for the diesel-powered cars, with a seven-year total of $3695; that's an average cost of $528 per service. Make sure your owner's manual gets ticked.

The petrol engine program costs between $306 and $711 per service. The majority of services are under $400, with seven years of maintenance costs equalling an average of $420-ish, for a total of $2942.

Resale value for most Korean brands is still not as good as some of their Japanese rivals; a 2015 Sportage Platinum diesel, for example, will have lost about 30 per cent of its new value if trading in, or about 12 per cent on a private sale.

Waiting time on new cars is minimal, according to Kia.