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Haval – the premium SUV arm of Chinese automaker GWM - has launched their biggest SUV, the Haval H9 at this past weekend's Festival of Motoring.

The full-size H9 joins Haval’s local line-up which until now has consisted of two-wheel drive small SUV derivatives – namely the H1, H2 and H6.

"Haval arrived in South Africa back in May 2017 and we started 12 months ago with just three Haval dealers," says Charles Zhao, Managing Director of Haval Motors South Africa. "By the end of June 2018 we had no less than 29 Haval dealers' countrywide thanks to full factory back-up from our parent company in China. Our objective is to have 35 Haval dealers across the country by the end of this year."

The H9 is a big SUV, and resultantly needs a fair amount of grunt to move its sizeable frame. While there is no diesel offering (which might upset South Africans), the sole model in the line-up utilizes a bespoke turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol mill that produces 180kw and peak torque of 350nm available from 1,800rpm all the way up to 4,500rpm. The award-winning motor is paired with a German sourced ZF 8-speed automatic transmission with steering mounted paddle shifters.

It’s said to be extremely capable off road too, thanks to low-range as well as selectable 4WD modes. The driver can select the most appropriate real-time road mode from 6 options (AUTO, 4L, Sport, Sand, Snow, and Mud) via the multi-functional display knob on the secondary instrument panel so that the system can automatically control the driving and braking force to achieve the best performances. And to further enhance its off-road capabilities, it has also been fitted with an electronic limited-slip differential lock on the rear axle.

It also gains a multi-link rear suspension layout much like the Isuzu Mu-X, versus the coil spring setup used by its other rivals, the Toyota Fortuner and the Ford Everest. And while its ground clearance of 206mm is slightly lower than that of the Fortuner at 261mm, its wading depth of 700mm is very comparative to that of the Ford Everest, with the Ford boasting just 100mm more.

The muscular exterior is complimented by stylish 18-inch alloys wheels, illuminated side steps and an Adaptive Front-lighting System, which incorporates automatic headlights with a built-in cleaning system, DRLs, and fog lights at the front and rear as standard fitment. Other exterior touches include a massive panoramic sunroof and roof rails.

The body of the vehicle rides on an extremely rigid ladder frame, and has been designed to maximize strength and protection, boasting dual front airbags and a full-length curtain airbag on each side of the vehicle. Electronic driver aids include ABS, BA (brake assist) and ESP, HAC (Hill-start Assist Control), RMI (Roll Movement Intervention) and HAC (Hill-start Assist Control) as well as CTA (Cross-traffic alert) and LCA (Lane-change Alert).

Its 7 seater configuration further emphasizes its versatility, and is loaded with every conceivable luxury you would expect to find in a classy SUV. From the leather seats in three rows, including an 8-way electrically adjustable driver seat with lumbar support and memory function and 4-way electrically adjustable front passenger seat with ventilation and massage, manually adjustable second row of three seats and the electrically foldable twin seats in the third row, to a long list of features including three-zone climate control air-conditioning, an advanced multi-media system with an 8" touchscreen and integrated satellite navigation, the H9 is, well, fully equipped.

The big Haval H9 2.0 Petrol 4WD Luxury and is priced at R 599 900, and comes standard with a 5-year/100 000km warranty, a 5-year/60 000km service plan, and 5-year/unlimited km roadside assistance.

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