Yes, as soon as the 2023 Haval H6 GT Ultra pulled into the parking lot, the "thrift-shop Urus" jokes started flying thick and fast, but almost immediately after they began, the office japers were a little quiet. As soon as there was a chance for some lighthearted teasing, eyebrows were lifted in awe of the Chinese coupe-SUV. Everyone was eager to take a drive as soon as they learned that there was a well-equipped all-wheel drive SUV with 150kW and a seven-speed dual-clutch that was available, had a seven-year warranty, and cost less than $50,000. Can a vehicle that on paper appears to be nearly invincible hold its own against some very strong competitors? One thing is certain. For anything to receive a strong recommendation, it must be very amazing.
If you picture Havals as being in his mid-thirties, the first number might come as a bit of a shock, but stick with us. You get a powerful 2.0-liter turbo-petrol engine with 150kW and 320Nm, as well as a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that drives all four wheels. The H6 GT is a good 177mm longer than a Mazda CX-5, with 38mm more between the wheels, and 127mm longer than a Toyota RAV4, with a 48mm longer wheelbase, measuring 4727mm long and sitting on a 2738mm wheelbase. It is even longer than a Skoda Kodiaq with seven seats, placing it quite close to the top of the medium SUV range. The top-of-the-line H6 GT with this Ultra specification costs $40,990 (drive-away) with front-wheel drive.
It's difficult to find anything wrong with the equipment list, with the obvious omission of wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. It has heated and ventilated leather and suede front seats, a wireless charging pad, Michelin tyres, a heated leather steering wheel, a head-up display, an electric panoramic sunroof, an electronically opening kick tailgate, and autonomous parking when ordered in Ultra form. Along with the Lux's standard equipment, which includes a 12.3-inch central screen, wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 19-inch alloy wheels, a surround-view parking camera, an eight-speaker stereo, and a number of safety features that we'll discuss later, this addition comes with a host of additional features. It's not difficult to see value in the $46,490 drive-away price Haval demands for the H6 GT Ultra given that a 1.5-liter 131kW Honda Civic formerly sold for $47,200. Its closest competitor is likely the posh Vignale AWD version of the Ford Escape, which has more power but costs a whopping $49,590 plus on-roads, has a five-year guarantee, and lacks several of the Ultra's goodies.
Honda's most recent CR-V VTi-L AWD is an intriguing and well-made alternative, but the Haval's robust engine and snappy dual-clutch transmission would leave it for dead. And thus lays the problem when gathering competitors. When driven correctly, the H6 GT performs at its highest level. If you're looking for a practical, plodding family transporter, consider a base Kia Sorento or a hybrid Toyota RAV4. Do you like a product that lives up to the athletic style of the Haval? There aren't many medium-sized SUVs under $50,000 that compare favourably to the H6 GT in that respect. Consider me shocked. I wasn't anticipating much because I hadn't driven a H6 before, but this Ultra's inside is on par with or better than many of its mainstream competitors. In terms of perceived quality, the materials feel more completed than those in a Ford or a Toyota, comparable to those in Hyundai and Kia but still a little below Mazda and Volkswagen.
That is a significant accomplishment for Haval. Of course, a lot will depend on how offended you are by the soft-touch material that gives its dash a carbon-fibre look. Personally, I'm not overly offended by it, and the faux-carbon appliqué, leather, and suede trim on the sports seats are mirrored on the door cards and centre console. With a massive 12.3-inch centre tablet-style display and a second, smaller 10-5-inch screen in front of the driver, the dash architecture is unique. A cordless phone charger, a rotary gear controller, two cup holders, and an electric handbrake are all framed by flying buttresses on the centre stack.
The steering wheel isn't overloaded with controls, is a good size, and has a rim that doesn't make it feel like you're taming a feisty carpet python. The adaptive cruise control controls are located on a stalk that is tucked under the indicators. The amount of storage space for odds and ends is excellent, with large front door bins that can accommodate a 1.5-liter bottle, twin central cup holders, a phone holder, an overhead sunglasses holder, and a deep centre bin. The sports seats have a somewhat flat base, a thin upper section, and a very small head restraint, thus they may not be as supportive as they may be. Other ergonomic issues exist as well, including the USB data plug being practically on the floor in the centre stack on the passenger side. Any sharp turn at all in the H6 GT will cause a wired phone to rocket out of the lower tray or the charging pad and land in the footwell.
Although the infotainment system has a wide range of menus and options, the screen responsiveness is subpar, and you frequently have to tap a menu option twice or three times before it takes effect. A simple task like changing the interior temperature while using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay requires a convoluted process that involves pressing a physical air conditioning control button to first turn off screen mirroring, then tapping a small icon to adjust the temperature in half-degree increments, and finally switching to the apps screen so you can restart screen mirroring. The only method to exit Android Auto and access the menus for other vehicle operations seems to be by first pressing a physical button on the screen for the air conditioning.
Please share it with us in the comments if you know of a speedier alternative. The lack of a rear wiper further hinders seeing out of the rear window's slot-like opening. Likewise, the bulky pillars do little to improve the rear three-quarter sight. Thankfully, the H6 GT features a fantastic surround-view monitor, but in this instance, it seems as though electronics are making up for a design that prioritised style above functionality in terms of visibility. Moving back, it becomes rather palatial. The athletic shape gives you the impression that the back seats would be a little crowded, but thanks to how simple it is to tuck your feet under the front seats, I was able to sit comfortably behind my driving position and still have room for my knees. My 193cm frame can easily sit comfortably, and headroom is also acceptable.
A pair of air vents (without separate controls), a pair of USB outlets, map pockets, and electric rear windows are provided for the back passengers. Rear window lines are not too high for toddlers to be unable to see out, and there is enough room for rear-facing kid seats. In contrast to the 600 litres of the standard H6 SUV, the boot is relatively small at 392 litres. With 412 litres, the Ford Escape provides a little bit more space, but the RAV4 offers 580 litres and the Skoda Kodiaq provides 630 litres. Up to 1392 litres are available when you fold down the back seats. Choose the Ultra and you'll also find a 12V power supply in the luggage compartment. I haven't driven any medium SUVs under $50,000 that are more entertaining to fling up a difficult road than the Haval H6 GT Ultra. There are a few requirements to meet in order to access the primary vein of talent. You must first turn off the annoying emergency lane-keep feature. That is, unless you want your driving to be constantly interrupted by chimes, wheel-grabbing, and the dash flashing "ELK Activated" message as if you've provoked a moose. It becomes active if you even get close to a line's scent and, strangely, it even intervenes on dirt roads.
This distraction's alleged safety benefit is called into doubt because eliminating it necessitates finding a submenu placed four deep inside the structure and disabling it on each trip. Disabling the idle-stop function, which behaves like a darted sloth, is also important. Thankfully, the Haval can recall this option. Additionally, you must exit the Normal drive mode. This is OK for leisurely driving, but on good roads, it frequently comes out of a corner in sixth or seventh gear, which causes it to kick down to third and lurch dreadfully when you use the throttle to tap into some power. The H6 GT will acknowledge the switch to Sport by flashing its hazard lights, which eliminates your chance of making a stealthy getaway from a stop sign.
Why? To start the car rolling away from the line in Normal mode, you'll also need to give the throttle quite a shove, which can be tiresome. Unexpectedly, there is also a Race mode, which sharpens things up considerably. The idle increases from 900 to 1200 rpm, the active exhaust becomes a little throatier, and - most crucially - the gearshift logic becomes far more aggressive. A redesigned H6 GT has the potential to be really good because all of these issues are quite simple to fix. It is currently extremely close to becoming there. The H6 GT has the ability to impress if you don't have high expectations for it.
It also excels in providing an SUV that can be effectively belted down a difficult route. The Haval stumbles a little in this middle region, where competitors are frequently so expertly polished. The H6 GT will be a very pleasant surprise for some, so I'd advise trying before you buy. Others will find it to be an eye-opening exercise in how far this brand has come and how little work is still needed for it to compete with the best in its category. Even though the gap is small, it still there. Still, the Haval H6 GT earns a lot of credit for its drive-away asking price of $46,490.
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