It’s red and fun, but it’s not Santa Claus; It’s the latest offering from SUV specialists, Haval. Yes, it has an unusual name, but is the new Jolion a serious competitor?
Words: Kyle Cassidy
| photos Tom Gasnier
Haval, the world’s most prolific maker of SUVs, is replenishing its local arsenal with two brand new models and a refresher for the other. The first is this new Jolion, quickly followed by a new H6 while the H9 is being redesigned. We got the H6 on the news, and details of the H9 are still TBC, but this new Jolion that we can elaborate on has just spent a week behind its wheel.
First, the Jolion is not the H2 replacement. On the one hand, it is a larger vehicle with a length of almost 4.5 m; on the other hand, the old H2 will be replaced by a new one, although it is unclear when exactly. Once the current H2 stocks are depleted, the Jolion will be the local Haval entry point for some time.
And it’s an attractive prospect as it starts at $ 25,990 for the premium. Yes, that’s what they call the entry-level model, but it seems reasonable considering how loaded the datasheet is relative to the asking price. That variant won’t be available until July, though, but the mid-range Lux ($ 28,990 with things like a 360-degree camera, digital instrument cluster, powered and heated seats, privacy glass, and LED lights) and the Ultra for $ 31,990 (glass roof, fee) pad, head-up display, ambient lighting) as pictured is here if your reading this.
Jolion, if you must know, is the Anglicized version of his name in China, “chu lian”, which is Mandarin for “first love”.
Jolion, if you must know, is the Anglicized version of his name in China, “chu lian”, which is Mandarin for “first love”. Jolion sits on Haval’s new lightweight, high-strength and scalable cross platform, which the company strangely calls LEMON. In any case, it contains more high-strength steels and the like to make them more robust, more refined and more capable of crash tests. However, there are no official Smash results yet.
Under the bonnet there is a new 1.5-liter turbopetrol with 105 kW and 230 Nm, which is connected to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. This only directs the flow to the front end. The stern is suspended from a torsion beam.
Considering the price, the Jolion makes a good first impression. The overall shape is on the money and the front end is quite noticeable, though some might find it a little too fussy with its chrome lashing straps. It’s styled well inside too, even if the shape has come at the expense of some functionality. But hey, it looks noticeable.
The large center screen rules it all, and while the menus are logically arranged, some of the key touch points, like the home button and temperature controls, are miniaturized making them difficult to reach on the go. The color theme is also interesting.
There are no buttons, just a few markings on the haptic pad below the screen. It means you’re immersed in the screen forever for almost anything, and the only volume control for the audio seems to be the one on the steering wheel. However, it’s a vivid screen that makes the scenery look breathtaking when the rearview and surround cameras are shown, both of which are top notch. The dial for the gearbox looks prime too, but could have been better packaged to provide more console storage. The few slots offered are rather impractical.
However, Jolion has a large, accessible charger and the storage bins are good too. The inside is well made and has some interesting finishes, but also some tough spots, especially where your leg tends to lean against the center console. The seat is well shaped but lacks reasonable adjustment and since the steering wheel has no grip movement it can take time to find a comfortable driving position.
There are innumerable security guards, most of which can be switched off in the submenus of the touchscreen. Tracking keeps pushing you around between the lines and the tailgate warning tones. So you pull back for it to stop and then someone moves into the rather large and welcoming void you just created. Active driving takes care of slow moving traffic queues, but gets a bit confused as you approach intersections, so it’s best to get back in control there. And whatever you do, don’t turn on the drive monitoring system.
The 1.5 turbo makes good numbers but suffers from a lag below 1500 rpm before the torque curve drops off well. Engaging the dual clutch is fine once it’s warmed up, though backing up can be quite abrupt at times. It swaps gears smoothly, although the shift logs don’t quite hit it on occasion. For example, when trying to drive away at slow speeds in second gear, but there just isn’t the torque to do it. So watch this at T-junctions and roundabouts. The test car was too new to get a decent estimate of fuel economy, but the on-board computer suggested 8.0 l / 100 km, which seemed about right, and so did the claim.
The chassis is tuned for a smooth ride, although the dampers crash on larger bumps. The steering is easy (it actually has three levels of assistance, but the controls for it, as you guessed, are four menus deep in the touchscreen, as are the various driving modes) while the turning circle is a little larger than you might expect. Forward visibility is well sorted, although the shape of the greenhouse means rearward visibility is a bit narrow. A multi-angle camera helps when parking.
Jolion drives sensibly on the freeway, the noise level from the road and the engine is muffled. Overtaking takes a decent straight to reach and the engine has to run properly. The steering is easy in the corners, and if the front pushes into understeer it can be quite abrupt. The ESP can catch it if you are not prepared. This is a good thing as it occasionally upsets the front-heavy balance, which can also get the rear moving when the road is slippery.
Occupants in the back seat won’t complain as Jolion offers excellent leg and headroom. Even the middle passenger’s comfort has been thought of with decent bench padding and plenty of leg room. The trunk is well shaped, although the floor is quite high, which robs it of its ultimate capacity. There’s a space-saving replacement part, and split-folding is a simple process that depicts a flat loading surface.
The Jolion is not perfect, but at the price you can overlook the small weaknesses; there are no real deal breakers here.
For less money than some small cars charge, you can get a midsize SUV with a loaded data sheet and a five-year warranty of 100,000 km. Very good value then.
model Haval Jolion Ultra price $ 31,990
engine 1497cc, IL4, T / DI, 105kW / 210Nm
transmission 7-speed double clutch, front-wheel drive
Vital 10.50 sec. 0-100 km / h, 8.1 l / 100 km, g / km, 1445 kg