7-seater SUV’s are all the rage globally at present, and with the in-house luxury that is expected of such vehicles, comes the expectation of a hefty price tag. Haval South Africa is proud to be in the run up to launching their contribution to this market segment later this year: the Haval H9 is tipped to be an outstanding and affordable addition to the class, and although not yet on South African shores, l am excited to present a preview of what to expect from this ground-breaking vehicle.
The Select Auto Group in Centurion represents the Suzuki, Haval and GWM brands: headed by a young and vibey Dealer Principal, Chris Jackson, the Select Auto Group has the distinct pleasure of showcasing three unique brands to the greater Pretoria area. Chris has 14 years of experience in the industry, and – having started as a junior salesman in Randburg many moons ago – can justly say that he worked his way up the ladder in a few short years where he has now dedicated himself as Dealer Principal in these Dealerships for the last five years. Candidly admitting that the motoring industry is a tough one to be in, the fact that the Select Auto Group has grown in size and reputation is a good indication of the successes achieved thus far.
Chris believes that as times have changed, customers are confronted with an influx of information at their fingertips, meaning their opinions and beliefs about a specific brand or vehicle may already be influenced before they arrive at the Dealership. This means that Chris and his team need to focus on the fact that each client is different and unique and need to be approached with the right information. Making sure that his team of 35 are comprehensively trained and equipped to provide the most informed and client-focussed service possible, the Dealership were awarded the Dealership to Watch accolade last year, as well as Workshop of the Year.
Chatting to Jaco Badenhorst, who is the new Sales Manager for Haval and GWM, I am told that working under a supportive and energetic Dealer Principal like Chris has been eye-opening for him. Working with a well-trained and well-respected sales team, Jaco is very positive about the passionate product knowledge which he and his team possess. As a self-admitted petrolhead, Jaco is excited about where he finds himself in the industry. Originally working in the IT sector, Jaco moved over to motor sales 4 years ago. Having grown up in a family who were overt vehicle enthusiasts, Jaco has experience in dealing with both new and used vehicles. His philosophy on customer service is that first impressions are important: he notes that as sales executives they only have a small window of opportunity to share the product information with their customers, and when it comes to dealing with a new brand such as Haval, this has to be spot-on at the first meeting. He notes that Haval is a brand that has caught everyone off-guard with their unbelievable value-for-money vehicles.
The H9, in Jaco’s opinion, will fill a massive gap in the Haval fleet: not having a 7-seater up until now, Haval’s release of their big SUV in other countries has been a rousing success. Due for release in September this year, the H9 is penned to be a luxury 7-seater with full 4×4 capabilities and a price that will knock the socks off competitors in the segment. As we look over the specs of the vehicle and the way it presents itself, I am inclined to agree with Jaco that this is an eye-catching, beautiful design. Having had the pleasure of actually seeing the H9 with his own eyes, Jaco notes that it is striking, has a bold design, and that it inspires a great deal of excitement.
The interior of the H9 is said to feature luxury trim options and high-grade leather wrapping for the steering wheel, gear shift, seats and door handles. A central instrument panel has a multi-level design (and an echo of geometric shapes) that carries the on-board technology in a modern setting. Mood lighting is available through the atmosphere lamp which, together with the entire cabin lay-out, has been designed to model luxury and comfort with a sense of flair.
As a 7-seater, the H9 will have the space needed to carry big families, or the practicality of folding seats away to enlarge an already cavernous boot. Sporty roof racks will be available for additional versatility and handy stowage bins and cubbies are spaced across the cabin. The body of the vehicle has been designed to maximise strength and protection, boasting dual front airbags and a full-length curtain airbag on each side of the vehicle. ABS, ESP, Hill Descent and Hill Hold Control are standard features, as is Roll Movement intervention.
A 2 litre turbocharged direct injection petrol engine is the hub on which the H9 functions: producing 160 kW of power and 324 nM torque, the H9 will also be fully 4×4 capable and will tackle any road surface with ease and confidence. With 6 corresponding road condition handling modes, the H9 system will adjust the engine, transmission and chassis to ensure its best performance and driving comfort. With an 8-speed dual clutch transmission gearbox, the H9 will most certainly also be a pleasure on city roads and I envision great family trips on the long-haul.
Backed up by the service and workshop teams at Haval Centurion, the H9 will make a fantastic addition to the bigger family, the adventuring family or the 4×4 enthusiast. Due to be released in September this year, I am excited about a comprehensive review and possibly a long-haul article about this incredible SUV!
Journalist: Desh Bechan
Reporter: Inge Stols
Editor: Belinda Anderson