It’s hard not to notice the ever-increasing number of Havals on the streets of Harare. In fact, GWM as a whole has been making great strides in Southern Africa. Haval was on average the 6th best-selling brand in the first quarter of 2022 in South Africa. And leading this sales charge? The Haval Jolion. The compact crossover SUV replaces the H2 and claims to offer great styling and features all at an affordable price. We went to local Haval dealer Zimoco to see what all the fuss was about.

Exterior

The Haval Jolion is a striking vehicle. The front end has hints of Audi with a large number of chrome accents, which surprisingly don’t seem garish or out of place. Both the Jolion and the larger H6 share a similar hexagonal face that would fit right in with their European counterparts. This should come as no surprise considering Haval enlisted the services of Phil Simmons, designer of the previous generation Range Rovers including the Velar and Discovery Sport. The headlights feature boomerang-shaped daytime running lights. On the higher specification Super Luxury, these DRLs continue down the front fascia. All trims receive LED taillamps whilst only the top-spec Super Luxury gets LED headlights. This is a theme we’ll return to later on. The Jolion has a choice of 17 or 18-inch alloys as standard based on the exact trim level.

Interior

The inside of the Jolion is a nice place to be. At first glance, it’s full of nice materials however upon closer inspection; one can see where/how the cost saving was achieved. Driver’s seats for example on the lower City and Premium specifications are manually adjustable, as are passenger seats on all trims. Only the Luxury and Super Luxury receive electrically adjustable driver seats. The seats themselves are very comfortable with ample legroom in both the front and rear.

Once sat however you’ll notice that everything above hip height looks and feels quite premium. All trims bar the City spec have a leather-wrapped steering wheel fitted as standard. The dash is covered in soft-touch material accented by chrome. Switchgear is also either surrounded by brushed metal or carbon fibre-looking material. A floating centre console with a very Jaguar-Land Rover-esque drive selection dial sits between the seats. Either side of this dial sit slots for your mobile phone and a wireless charging pad for the Super Luxury trim. Under this however is there the nicer materials end, replaced by hard plastics. Here you’ll find a 12v outlet as well as two USB ports.

The Jolion has plenty of legroom for all passengers. The rear seats also feature a folding armrest with cupholders and ISOFIX attachments for baby seats. The rear seats fold down in a 60:40 split to increase the boot space from 337L to 1133L.

Infotainment & Electronics

A 10-inch (12-inch in the Super Luxury) Multimedia Touch Display sits proudly on the dash, also accented by a black and chrome bezel. The screen itself is responsive and clear, handling the operation of the radio and climate control as well as vehicle settings. I would prefer to have physical buttons for the climate control but otherwise, the system works well. Apple CarPlay and soon Android auto are available through the infotainment. The rear passengers also have access to two USBs so everyone can keep their devices charged on long journeys. All specifications above City also have a fifth USB by the rearview mirror to provide power to a dashcam.

Moving back to the driver’s seat City and Premium trims get a 3.5-inch colour screen between analogue dials whilst Luxury and Super Luxury trims have a full 7-inch dash cluster as well as a Heads Up Display with Traffic Sign Recognition. It would be interesting to see if more cars featured this kind of technology and whether the driving standards would improve. The multi-function steering wheel can also be used to control the radio and cruise control systems.

Safety Features

The Haval Jolion is packed to the brim with safety features. All trim levels receive dual and front side airbags, ABS, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability System and Anti-Roll System. Hill Assist is available on all models including the manual City trim, as are Rear Park Sensors. Luxury, Premium and Super Luxury benefit from a reversing camera with guidelines, Downhill assist and Driving Fatigue Detection.

However, if you’d like the full suite of safety acronyms, you’ll need to opt for the Super Luxury Spec which includes features such as 360-degree Panoramic Camera, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Traffic Jam Assist (TJA), Lane Departure Warning(LDW) to name but a few.

Drivetrain & Driving Impression

All Haval Jolion models are powered by a 1.5-litre Turbo, petrol engine. It is rated at 105Kw and 210Nm of torque. Haval claims a fuel economy of 7.5l/100km, which is fairly decent but expect less with our blended fuel. The engine is not particularly sonorous but given the type of vehicle that’s not likely to be a problem for most. Buyers have the option of either a 6-speed manual transmission in the City trim or a 7-speed Dual clutch transmission.

The DCT offered seamless upshifts on spirited acceleration whilst also being smooth at low speeds. Should you wish to feel a bit more sporty, DCT models include a manual mode with paddle-shift. A 1.5litre engine may seem small but it is more than enough to keep up and navigate everyday traffic. There are low NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) levels in the cabin, however, it must be said that the test drive was mostly on the better roads in Harare so results will vary on the rougher roads.

Pricing

The Jolion offers a lot of car in its segment. With the Super Luxury trim in particular offering a lot of tech usually reserved for more high-end cars from Europe. At the time of writing our Premium test model was being sold by Zimoco for US$38, 000. The entry-level City trim is available for US$33, 900. However, if you want all the bells and whistles, you’ll need to fork out US$ 42, 000. The 3-year/ 100 000km warranty make buying a new vehicle an attractive option when compared to importing a used car.

Conclusion

The fact that the Haval Jolion has managed to overtake established brands like Nissan Open and Mitsubishi should tell you all you need to know. It has even been outselling brands like Mazda and Mercedes Benz in neighbouring South Africa. The Chinese brand has taken the playbook that the Koreans used and ran with it at an accelerated pace. Value for money? Check. Packed with tech? Check. Hired designers from established luxury vehicle backgrounds? Check.

The Jolion sits in a segment occupied by the Kia Seltos and Mazda CX5 but you’d be hard pressed to match the specifications of the Jolion like-for-like on price. It is unfortunate that Zimbabwe doesn’t offer the same 5-year warranty that Haval offers in South Africa but perhaps that says more about our environment. If you are in the market for a compact SUV with lots of interior space, and good looks without breaking the bank, the Jolion should be at the top of your list.

Haval Jolion Video Review by Z Car Culture

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