Great Wall Motor (GWM) has officially entered the Philippine market through its distributor Luxuriant Automotive Group, Inc. (LAGI). LAGI is part of the SQ Group, which is known to distribute Sailun, Zeneos, Gripper, and Beast tires in the Philippines. Since we have a strong appetite for crossovers and SUVs, it’s only appropriate that GWM decided to bring in their Haval range of SUVs first. The initial range includes the Haval H6 compact SUV and Jolion subcompact SUV, both of which are available as hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).
For this first impressions article, we’ll be focusing on the H6, which right now is the flagship of the Haval range. The Haval H6 is setting its sights against the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, but at a price that’s more in line with the smaller Corolla Cross Hybrid. Apart from costing less, it does have a few key merits that make it a better car than the RAV4.
First is its generous equipment list. While specs have not yet been officially finalized, the H6 comes with stuff like LED lighting all around, cabin tech that’s enough to satisfy even the most tech-savvy buyers, along with a full suite of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) that range from automatic emergency braking, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, just to name a few.
Apart from the generous standard kit–which is already expected in a Chinese car, what the Haval H6 hybrid offers in spades are a smooth driving experience. Whereas most Chinese crossover SUVs utilize a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) that’s often subpar in calibration, the H6 hybrid uses what GWM calls their Direct Hybrid Transmission (DHT). It’s developed in-house by GWM, and it consists of a two-speed gearbox that’s unheard of in any vehicle. Toyota, on the other hand, uses an electronically-controlled CVT for its hybrids.
With that DHT in mind, the Haval H6 hybrid performs smoothly around Batangas Racing Circuit (BRC). The power delivery is smooth and instantaneous without the hiccups of a DCT. The blend between the internal combustion engine and the electric motor is also seamless. However, while it’s responsive and smooth, the two-speed transmission doesn’t offer the same level of engagement as a traditional multi-gear automatic transmissin. A true real-world drive is still in order, but based on our short time around the track, the Haval H6’s smooth and refined hybrid drivetrain is off to a good start.
Other noteworthy aspects of the Haval H6 hybrid include its comfortable suspension and refined chassis. Noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) suppression is very good for its class, with the H6 remaining quiet even at high speeds. The chassis rigidity is also quite good since vibrations are well absorbed by the structure itself when going through the curbs of BRC.
Because this was a drive through a controlled environment around the track, we couldn’t really get a proper fuel economy evaluation. However, we expect the Haval H6 hybrid to perform really well under real-world conditions given that it’s a hybrid. Whether it’s as efficient as its rivals from Toyota is still a huge question.
For now, though, the Haval H6 leaves a very strong first impression. From its smooth hybrid drivetrain, excellent NVH suppression, and generous serving of tech, there are plenty of reasons to love the H6 hybrid. All that’s left to find out is how much it will cost. The Haval H6 and the rest of the GWM lineup will officially debut at the 2023 Manila International Auto Show (MIAS), which runs from April 13 to 16, with full pricing and specs to be revealed by then.