Haval H9 VS Skoda Kodiaq
- 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
- Sportline looks
- Paddle shifters
- Cool front seats
- Need to option extra advanced safety tech
- Doesn't come with tablet holders
- No third-row child seat anchor points
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 Skoda Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline is a seven-seat SUV that’s the size of most five seaters, but it’s not the only one that can perform this trick of accommodation. The Nissan X-Trail, Renault Koleos and its Volkswagen cousin, the Tiguan Allspace all come with seating for seven in a small (ish) package.
We’ll also get to tell you straight up what makes a Sportline a Sportline and how much more you’ll have to pay over a regular Skoda Kodiaq.
Ready? Let’s go.
|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.
I have a small family and we live in the inner city where traffic's thick and parking's at a premium. But we hit the highway regularly and I love to drive. So, for us, something that’s comfortable, easy to park, practical and fun to drive is ideal. The Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline is close to that. But I’d go for the regular 132TSI and use the $4000 saving for a holiday.
Is the Skoda Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline the ideal family car? 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.
My four-year old son spotted them straight away – the Sportline’s front seats. He wanted to know why they had a hole in them. It’s true they do have a hole in them. It’s just the design with integrated headrests.
Have a look at the images and you’ll see what he means. These leather/suede-feeling holey seats with silver stitching are just part of the different look and feel you’ll get with the Sportline.
There’s also the 20-inch 'Anthracite' wheels with a spoke design that looks like it should have some sort of WorkSafe protective guard on it. Then there’s the body kit which brings black bits: the grille, the mirrors and the roof rails.
The Red Velvet paint is exclusive to the Sportline. Skoda says you can’t get it on any other Kodiaq but you can option it on other models such as the Karoq for $1000. It’s a good contrasting colour with the black elements, plus even on a rainy day (as per our photo shoot) the car stands out.
Other colours also available on the Sportline include 'Brilliant Silver', 'Magic Black', 'Moon White' and 'Steel Grey'.
I’m convinced the Kodiaq is the best-looking Skoda the Czech brand has made. Even the grille, which I’ve never really been a fan of on other models, looks good, especially with the blacked-out treatment. The big cheesy grin extends through sleek headlights accentuating the width of the car.
The corner of those headlights is connected to the tail-lights by a line which turns into a hard crease, running the length of the car and around the tailgate, skirting the rear window.
The Volkswagen’s styling is relatively restrained and conservative, while the Skoda has more personality in its design. Let’s just say if the Kodiaq and Tiguan were people I’d prefer to hang out with the Skoda. But then, I’ve been described as weird.
How big is the Skoda Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline? That’s a good question. Some garages are only 2.0m wide and even though the Kodiaq is just under 1.9m across, are you going to be able to open the door and get out? At 4.7m long it’s not at all huge, and at less than 1.7m tall (including roof rails) its about 20cm taller than a regular car, but you’ll get into most underground car parks without any issues.
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.
Skoda’s ‘shtick’ is practicality and all models, including the Kodiaq, have smart features you’re not going to find on every car.
There are umbrellas hiding in the front doors like torpedos waiting in their chambers for a rainy day, there are also rubbish bins in those doors with tiny plastic bin liners, there’s a torch which pops out of the wall in the boot and retractable sunblinds for the rear doors.
But unlike the regular Kodiaq there aren’t tablet holders for the rear passengers in the Sportline because they can’t be fitted to the integrated headrest seats.
The boot capacity is excellent for the class at 630 litres (VDA) with the third row folded flat and 270 litres with the back seats in place, and it comes with three cargo nets.
Storage in the cabin is great with a top- and bottom-opening cooled glove box, a large centre console storage area and another hidey hole in front of the shifter which will fit an iPhone 8.
There are six cupholders (two in the front, two in the middle and two in the third row) and bottle holders in the doors (1.5L size in the front and 1.0L in the rear doors).
There are three 12-volt power outlets (up front, second row and cargo area) and one USB port (under the dash).
Even at 191cm, headroom for me is excellent in the second row despite the optional sunroof fitted to our test car. Legroom is also outstanding, with enough space for me to sit behind my driving position with about 30mm of air between my knees and the seat back.
The third row should really be a last resort for adults as head and legroom are properly limited back there, but children will be happy with it.
The big, wide-opening rear doors make getting in and out easy, although the ride height made getting in a bit of a climb for my four-year-old.
Something you should know, too, is that while the second row is on rails to allow better access to the third row and it folds 60/40, the larger folding section is on the kerb side of the car because it’s European.
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.
The Sportline grade was introduced to the Skoda Kodiaq range in early 2018, but rather than see it as a separate variant think of it as a regular Kodiaq 132TSI with bonus features. So, what's added to the 132TSI Sportline and how much more does it cost?
First the price. The Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline lists for $46,990, plus on-road costs, which is $4000 more than a regular 132TSI. What do you get for your four grand? It’s mainly cosmetic, but there are functional differences, too.
So, along with 'Red Velvet' paint, 20-inch wheels, a body kit with blacked-out bits, and aluminium finish pedals, there’s also the customisable performance monitor, drive mode selection, shifting paddles and sports seats up front with the driver’s being power adjustable.
That’s in addition to the 132TSI’s regular features including an 9.2-inch gesture control media display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat nav, LED headlights, proximity key, power tailgate, privacy glass and dual-zone climate control.
Our test car was fitted with a sunroof for $1900 and two optional packages – the 'Tech Pack' for $2600 (which adds auto parking, reverse AEB, adaptive chassis control, kick-open tailgate and wireless phone charging) and the $3400 'Luxury Pack' (which brings three-zone climate control and extra safety technology).
Frankly, the 132TSI is already great value, the Sportline mainly makes it look better. It’s disappointing that the extra safety equipment isn’t standard, but we’ll cover that 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 name gives some of the engine details away – the Skoda Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline has a 132kW, 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. Maximum torque is 320Nm, which is plenty, and it’s all there for the using from 1400rpm.
Shifting gears is a seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission. You may have heard about these before – it’s a type of automatic used widely by Volkswagen (and other carmakers), which can be short on low-speed refinement around car parks or in bumper-to-bumper traffic, but operates exceptionally well at quicker speeds.
Also known as a 'DSG' that dual-clutch sends the drive to all four wheels in the Kodiaq. Yes, it may say 4x4 on the tin, but the Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline is an all-wheel drive that monitors each wheel and will transfer drive around them to maintain the best possible traction.
The braked towing capacity of the Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline is 2000kg.
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.
Skoda says the Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline should use just 7.6L/100km over a combination of open and urban roads. The trip computer in our test car was reported an average of 10.1L/100km, but that was after punishing it with 250km of city testing, rather than motorway kays.
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.
Okay, it’s not as bad as I've made it sound, but the Kodiaq’s tall bonnet and high door sills mean the area left for windows is smaller than in rivals like the Nissan X-Trail or Subaru Forester. So, while visibility is affected only slightly the pay-off is a sleek window line.
Fortunately, the Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline handles better than a metal bucket, especially our test car which was fitted with 'Adaptive Chassis Control'. Handling and ride are superb for a mid-sized SUV.
Even on those 20-inch wheels and low-profile tyres (235/45 R20 Pirelli Scorpion Verde front and rear) the ride is comfortable, compliant and composed, while handling feels great when the road starts to twist, too.
Adaptive chassis control allows the driver to set the dampers in six modes including Sport and Comfort.
The steering does feel artificial, but it’s smooth and accurate, and while the DSG causes the Kodiaq to lurch slightly in traffic, you’ll get used to it after a week, as I did.
The 132TSI is an excellent engine with stacks of torque that’s all there from 1400rpm. That means despite a smidge of turbo lag, you’ll have stacks of oomph to move quickly if you're changing lanes, pulling out into traffic, or merging onto a motorway.
If you’re not the best at parking or prone to scratching your wheels on the gutter you’ll be a fan of the auto parking feature that comes with the Tech Pack. Every time I used it, the Kodiaq performed pretty much the perfect parallel park, super quickly.
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 Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2017. While there are nine airbags covering the front, second and third rows, the advanced safety tech which comes standard on the SUV could be more comprehensive.
There is AEB which works at city speeds, but if you want the full armoury of safety equipment you’ll need to option the Luxury Pack which adds everything we’d expect to come standard – rear cross traffic alert, lane keeping assistance, blind spot detection and adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assistance.
It’s for that reason the Kodiaq 132TSI Sportline scores a lower mark here.
For child seats you’ll find two ISOFIX points and three top tether mounts in the second row. Those third-row seats don’t have child seat anchorage points.
Under the boot floor you’ll find a space saver spare wheel.
Servicing is recommended every 15,000km or 12 months with the first visit being $322, the second $408, the third $586, the fourth $872, and the fifth $431. Alternatively, you can purchase a service pack: $950 for the three years, or $2100 for five.