First Impressions: 2019 Haval H9 - Chinese-built, Japanese looks, German transmission

Legit SUVs are built like trucks. They have body-on-frame type constructions and have 4-wheel-drive drivetrains. What we normally see on the roads today are crossover SUVs which have monocoque or unibody type constructions with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive* systems. Although not very capable off-road, crossover SUVs (like the Mazda CX-5, the Honda CR-V, and Proton X70) are very good family cars. They are also good urban runabout vehicles.

*All-Wheel-Drive and Four-Wheel Drive are two very different things

The Haval H9 is not a crossover SUV. It is big, has 7-seats, has a selectable 4-wheel-drive multi-terrain system, and a tailgate that opens sideways. The one we tested from Haval does not have the exact specification that the Malaysian Haval H9 will have. This test unit even had a steering heater and seat heater equipped. To classify it right, the Haval H9 is more like a Toyota Fortuner, a Mitsubishi Pajero, an Isuzu MU-X, or a Ford Everest.


What are the specs for the Haval H9?

Engine: 2.0 L Turbocharged GW4C20A I4 16-valve, double VVT, direct injection (Petrol)

Maximum Power Output: 241hp @5,500rpm

Maximum Torque Output: 350N.m @1800-4500rpm

Transmission: ZF 8-Speed Automatic Transmission

Drivetrain: Selectable Four-Wheel-Drive

Tyres: Cooper Tires Discoverer HTS 265/60R18

Fuel Consumption: 9.17km/l

0 – 100km/h: not important

Price (2019): yet to be announced


*All specs are not yet final for the Malaysian market



The H9 is able to sit 7 people. You can fold the last row (electronically) and get more boot space. The H9 even offers strap hooks in the boot space in case you want to secure a fragile item. The car comes with ISOFIX for the second row of seats. What else do you get in the back? There is a 220V Power Outlet, a screw jack, and an emergency tool kit. The unused straps you see are meant to hold the first-aid kit and the red triangle. Passengers in the last row get a cupholder each.


What is it like to Drive?


The H9 is a body-on-frame type vehicle. Dynamic handling is not expected. Speed and agility are also not expected. What is expected is a capable 4-wheel-drive system, some good grunt for towing, reasonable comfort, a decent transmission, and good visibility.

Does the H9 deliver?

The 4-wheel-drive system is yet to be tested, the claimed towing capacity is 2,500 kilograms, the car is comfortable, visibility is decent, and the transmission is…


…surprisingly great. Especially when you compare it to the lethargic H1. The H9’s transmission is an 8-speed automatic so the car gets into 6th gear fairly quick. You could be driving to the next traffic light and the H9 could still reach 6th gear before you have to stop again.

There is something interesting about the transmission…


The Haval H9’s transmission is from ZF.

ZF is German.

It is German.

For real.

ZF transmissions are produced by the German ZF Friedrichshafen AG engineering company. The company that is also responsible for transmissions in the BMW E36 M3, the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, and the Ford F-series trucks. ZF also manufactures Porsche PDK transmissions.

The transmission in the Haval H9 is the ZF 8HP.

The ZF 8HP has several variants and we’re not quite sure of the exact variant in the Haval H9. Interestingly, some cars that utilise the ZF 8HP include Audi’s Q5 and Q7, and Jeep’s Grand Cherokee. That’s some good stuff right there, folks.


There are a few driving modes in the H9 - Automatic, Sport, Snow, Mud, Sand, and 4-Low. Snow and sand basically make you start in 2nd gear. We haven’t had permission to test this on off-road terrains so we are yet to discover what the H9 is really capable of. There is also an ECO mode and the car comes with the eco idle feature.


The seats are comfortable. The driver’s side comes with 3 memory settings and the front passenger seat is electronically adjustable too. The H9 we tested had seat massage, seat heating, and lumbar support. Good fancy stuff.


It is not a Diesel


Weirdly, the Haval H9 is not a diesel. The 2.0 Litre turbocharged petrol engine will have to move all 2,230 kilograms of this Chinese-German 7-seater SUV. The car is even claimed to be capable of towing 2,500kg of extra weight around so that is some mighty good transmission going on in the Haval H9. Maximum torque is 350 N.m with the engine spinning from 1,800rpm to 4,500rpm. The engine is a Great Wall engine denoted by the “GW” in the engine code, GW4C20A.


What about fuel consumption?

10.9 l/100km or 9.17km/l. Not great by city car standards. But if you compare it against the 2.7 L Petrol Toyota Fortuner, it really is quite good. Almost every other option in this segment is a diesel.




For a car to drive in non-optimal conditions, the Haval H9 looks like a capable contender. You are going to drive it hard. Things are going to get scratched and banged up anyway. There are decent luxuries on the inside and the utilities provided are plausible. The sheer size of the H9 already gives it a strong presence. The transmission is decent. I can’t give a final verdict on this yet because we’ll have to try this off-road. Let’s just wait until we get the green light from the guys at Haval.


What do you think about this one?

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  • Dylan Ch'ng

    21 December 2018

    sideways tail gate to me seems like the biggest problem

    0 replies