Published on March 23rd, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez1
Haval H4 Elite test drive review
It would seem that the stigma against China made vehicles have somewhat disappeared in Klang Valley and the rest of Malaysia as more and more of the latest Haval H4’s get delivered to new owners. Yes, this China made hatchback is selling well and we are test driving the highest specification model which is tagged the ‘Elite’.
Formerly known as ‘Great Wall’, this car company (more like SUV company) from China which happens to have an extensive model range is now rebranding itself in stages as ‘Haval’. Starting with this model here, the Haval branding will very soon be extended to the SUV, pickup truck and other models in coming months. The nameplates will follow closely with Audi’s nameplate branding using ‘H’ and a number. So this is the H2…then the H4 and H5 and H8 will come along.
This Haval H4 grille and “face” treatment on the nose looks very much like previous Range Rover Evoque. In fact we caught a red colour H4 owner using the Range Rover lettering on his vehicle nose. It looks in many ways like a mini Evoque from the front. The wheel at each corner layout also helps to visually shorten the car, as well as endow it with better interior space in the process. For this version, the M4 ‘Elite’ the RM72,339.41 asking price is rather high and puts it against a whole range of more established competitors. However the M4 Comfort with less ‘added’ accessories retails from RM59,697,69 bringing closer to acceptable pricing.
From the side, this Haval H4 looks a lot like a compact crossover. It is an adventurous and pleasing design. The H4 sits high off the ground, almost like a crossover and the roof squares off towards the rear, giving an interesting profile whilst maximising space in the rear.
Interior space is good given the exterior dimensions. We would expect most Haval H4 car keys would be in the hands of young families, but during its time with us we noticed more mature drivers and even some retires diving it.
For our test days it transported four adults in comfort with no shortage of leg or elbow room. The tall profile pays predictable dividends in the headroom stakes and lends a further air of spaciousness.
The interior is full of clever storage areas that fully maximise the space available and use it as efficiently as possible, however the boot space suffers from the larger cabin space.
An impressive list of standard equipment completes what is a very pretty picture in a tight, price sensitive competitive segment.
Apart from the small boot, this H4 can prove a lot of car for the money, with its decent standard specification including air conditioning and an iPod/Bluetooth compatible stereo (the centre console even houses a USB port), electric windows and a multi-function steering wheel.
Safety features have been included like 2-front airbags, ESP/ESC (ABS +EBD, HBA Brake Assist, HHC Hill Start Assist and TCS.
The Good Ideas
What we liked and thought was very useful was the rear view mirror that had a toll Smart Tag reader built in and the 2 small hooks in the boot to carry take away food/drinks.
The dashboard is clear and well laid out and the ergonomics are very sound with the central console controls for air conditioning and stereo good to use and logically placed. Steering wheel mounted controls for minor functions minimise the distraction from driving. In city traffic the H4 is light, nimble and easy to drive. All of the driving controls are of a weight that anyone can use with minimal effort (lacking a little feel accordingly) and are well placed. The driving position is comfortable with good overall visibility, although it suffers from the same A-pillar blind spot found in almost most new compact cars today.
Under the bonnet of our test car resided the common sense choice of powerplant for cars like these, a compact 1.5L petrol with possible Japanese heritage. This VVT 1.5-litre four-cylinder offers 105bhp backed up by 138Nm of torque at 4200rpm. Unsurprisingly, performance isn’t electrifying against the clock with the disappointing gearbox that takes its time to shift. As per usual, what the figures don’t reflect is the easy, lazy nature of the driving experience.
The 6-speed ‘box shifts with well-spaced ratios when in full automatic mode but when moved to manual mode, the driver can extract faster response allowing this H4 to cope with cut and thrust city driving. All the while the engine is unobtrusive and allows for refined highway cruising with some ease.
Handling is good, though obviously not deeply involving, but it can be fun to hustle along. The suspension does a good job of reducing the body roll inevitable with a relatively high sided shape. Ride quality is also good, absorbing all but the most abrupt and harsh surfaces we come across on our regular test routes.
As an all-round package this Haval H4 is an impressively rounded car for the money you pay. Haval has produced a good offering where in real world practical small car motoring this Haval H4 is very difficult to argue against.
HAVAL M4 Elite Specifications
Engine: Inline-4, DOHC, 16V, VVT
Transmission: 6-speed semi-auto
Max Power: 105hp @ 6,000rpm
Max Torque: 138Nm @ 4,200rpm
Price: From RM54,900