Review: 2018 Haval H2 - A new player in the Malaysian SUV segment

We borrowed a car for 5 days from Haval. It was the Haval H2 which is a front-wheel-drive crossover that’s about the same size as a 2007 Honda CR-V. Haval used to sell their cars under the brand name ‘Great Wall’. The company behind it is still called ‘Great Wall’ and Haval is just a brand name. And it is a brand that only makes Crossovers/SUVs. This is a Chinese brand and the cars are assembled in Gurun, Kedah.

Engine: GW4G15B 1.5 L VVT Turbocharged

Year: 2018

Drive train: Front Wheel Drive

Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic with tiptronic

Price: RM98,915

Posing in the driver's seat is an old friend of mine from work.

What is propelling the car? It is a 1.5 litre turbocharged engine with VVT (Variable Valve Timing). The engine is a Great Wall engine. You get a 6-speed automatic gearbox (torque converter) with tiptronic, which, when driving through back roads, I found to be quite useful. It’s also handy for overtaking manoeuvres.  The powerplant is conventional and it works fine, because it has been proven to work over the years. For a rather new auto industry player in Malaysia (Haval joined the Malaysia Auto market in 2015), I applaud the decision to go with conventional propelling methods. Also, Haval currently sells 2 models only which is the H1 and the H2. There is no fancy 4-wheel-drive drivetrain, and although the H2 does have a manual variant, it has been dropped for the Malaysian market. Smart move.

Looks wise, I feel indifferent. It is a subjective matter. Some people like to point out similar design cues with other brands and dimensions they don’t like. However, I couldn’t care less when it comes to looks for a daily driver. The car looks alright. Does it turn heads? Well, only because you don’t see many of them on the road yet.

What is it like to Drive?

Surprisingly, it was OK. The response of the electronic throttle was alright. It is better than the response of the electronic throttle in the 2018 Iriz and Persona. There is no buffer. Power delivery isn’t exactly instant, but thanks to the conventional automatic gearbox, it isn’t something you would despise. The ride is fairly comfortable. Part of it might be due to the size of the car and part of it due to the suspension and tyre set up. It is geared for comfort, it is an urban Crossover, and it is front-wheel-drive. I didn’t expect anything spectacular from the car and it did not disappoint. I would say that the automatic gearbox is more pleasant than the CVT transmission in Proton cars or older cars with 4-speed automatic (torque converter).

When I got into the car for the very first time, my immediate thought was that the interior could use some improvement. I’m sure the people at Haval are already looking into it. Improvements take time in a design and manufacturing facility. The large seat is comfortable although it gets really hot if left under the sun (standard property of leather seats). You get electronic seat controls for the driver seat only.

After some getting used to, I started to pay attention to what was being offered on the inside. The base of the car is conventional (powerplant, drivetrain, & transmission) but Haval has tailored this car to suit the perceived demand of Malaysian drivers. There are features like cruise control, steering radio controls, Bluetooth connectivity, leather seats, a reverse camera, a side view camera (on the side view mirror), a keyless entry system, push start button, electronic seat controls, an electric sunroof, and a lumbar support for the driver seat.

Is it quick? If you compare it to Proton’s experimental CVT and other older cars with 4-speed automatics (with torque converters), it is better. By today’s standards, I’d say the transmission does a good enough job to make the ride a relaxing one. The ride is not jerky and there is no buffer in the electronic throttle control module. The engine responds when you put your foot down, but if just left in the automatic mode the surge of power is a little delayed. It takes a while for the automatic gearbox to figure out that it needs to downshift. Here is where the tiptronic feature comes in handy. It’s not a perfect car but I wouldn’t say it’s a bad car either. It does the job. The car does have ‘Standard’, ‘Economic’ and ‘Snow’ mode which are things that adjusts how the automatic transmission behaves.

A Conventional Base

The majority of modern day car drivers aren’t concerned with how a car works underneath the good looks and all the fancy features. But taking the time to understand this aspect of a car could help you make a better purchase decision.

The H2 is a front-wheel-drive crossover with a 1.5L turbocharged engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission (with a torque converter). There is nothing technologically advanced and that’s how it should be for a non-pioneer automaker*. This means the methods have been proven to work by other automakers so things should be quite alright. Introducing new technology means there is a higher possibility for error especially in the early stages of production (Look at Volkswagen’s early stage dual clutch system and the Ford Fiesta’s TCM).

*When I say non-pioneer, I mean that Haval isn’t known for introducing spear-heading new technology in the auto industry. Great Wall Motors (the company behind Haval) was founded in 1984 and only made trucks and SUVs (body-on-frame style vehicles) when they started. Great Wall’s first passenger car was launched in 2010 and the brand name ‘Haval’ was launched in 2013.

I asked one of the guys from Haval if the engine was outsourced from another automaker.

It is not.

The engine is a GW4G15B 1.5 VVT Turbocharged Engine. I believe the ‘GW’ denotes the company name ‘Great Wall’. It’s a 4-cylinder engine with a turbo. To me, this sounds like a similar set up for the Proton Exora CFE. Both are fairly heavy cars with a small displacement engine and a turbocharger. The Haval H2 brochure states a maximum output power of 147hp at 5600rpm. Maximum torque is mentioned as 210Nm between 2200rpm to 4500rpm.


Although the engine code has a ‘4G15’ in it, the GW4G15B has nothing to do with the old Mitsubishi 4G15 engine. Bore and stroke is 75mm x 84.7mm, the engine has 16 valves with DOHC (Double Overhead Cams), and the engine is in an inverted configuration (intake manifold in front). It is dimensionally similar with Toyota’s 1NZ-FE but has a turbocharger and a lower compression ratio (9.3:1). The VVT (Variable Valve Timing) is only on the intake camshaft and it is a cam-phasing type VVT (similar to Toyota’s VVT-i and Proton’s VVT).

How is the engine like? It’s alright for a car this size. It’s not terrifyingly fast but it’s comfortable for a highway cruise (thanks to the 6-speed automatic). At low revs the engine does seem to chatter a little (perhaps not enough pressure for the turbocharger) but at higher revs the ride is decent. If left in automatic mode, it does take a bit more gas for it to get into 6th gear. If you want to get into overdrive faster, just override the gear selection with the tiptronic shifter.


Good Points

Do note that what I mention here is a matter of my own opinion.

I liked the huge clock since I don’t even get a clock in my Axia (E). I also like the tiptronic shifter which doesn’t do its own thinking. Some tiptronic cars won’t let you stretch gears. The Haval H2 gives you freedom to do that.

Although there’s not much information at the gauge cluster area, I find the tyre pressure & temperature monitor to be helpful.

The presence of a sunroof does make the car a little quirkier/more fun for certain buyers.


Weak Points

There is some free play in certain parts of the interior. I’m sure the guys at Haval are already looking into this. Plastics can be improved too. The Haval is priced around the Honda HR-V so that’s a benchmark we can look at.

The ‘Full Beam’ Icon is concealed by the rev counter needle at idle.

The tailgate is a little high for an urban crossover so loading heavy objects can be tough for some people. Also, the trunk requires a bit of effort to shut close.

The Light Show

The Premium H2 does come with some fancy lights which some of us might like. I prefer my car to be not fancy but if this is your kind of thing, you might want to check the car out. You get this blue light all over the interior which could be helpful when searching for stuff in the door pockets.

One idea that I think can be dropped is this red light that projects from the side mirror to the floor and spells out ‘Haval’. The Ford Mustang does this too (with the Horse logo) but even with the Mustang, I think it’s silly.

The seats are large and comfortable. Rear passengers are seated higher than the front row so head room in the back isn’t great.


Haval is a new brand (2013) and is a new player in Malaysia (2015). Things will take time for Malaysian consumers to familiarise with the brand although Great Wall Motors has been around since 1984.

In my opinion, the Haval H2 (premium) is a crossover with a conventional base but with some features to make it feel more exclusive than just a standard car. The drive is comfortable and relaxing and for a daily driver. I quite like the 6-speed automatic with tiptronic. On a full tank (55 litres), I managed around 450km (while driving aggressively) which gives us 8km/l. This is the figure I got. Other reviewers have tested the car for a week and obtained 10.0km/l at average with 11.5km/l at best and 8.5km/l at worst.

To comment on the reliability of Haval, we'll have to wait a few more years to have some solid data.

The H2 is almost as big as the CR-V but priced similarly to the HR-V. The choice is yours to make.

Thank you, Haval, for letting us borrow the car.

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