Haval Jolion Ultra 2021 Review

Aussies are buying Chinese cars in record numbers, and the all-new Haval Jolion is another prime example of why they’re becoming so popular. It’s got loads of tech, high levels of safety, and a strong seven-year warranty. But how does it stack up in terms of the user experience, including ride, handling and refinement? Let’s find out. Haval claims it is China’s luxury SUV brand, and while it’s not gonna worry Lexus or Audi at this stage, the new Jolion makes a strong first impression, especially with the starting price of just $25,000 drive away. It’s the smallest SUV in the Haval range, replacing the H2 and sitting below the H9 and H6, and will be the most popular model too. In terms of design, I like what I see here. You’ve got the big shiny grill, the slimline LED headlights. It’s quite brazen and it’s a strong design. Although it’s categorised as a small SUV, it actually measures almost as long as some medium SUVs. The rear-end design is pretty cool too. I like what they’ve done with these LED lights here. It’s a little bit Volvo, a little bit Scandinavian in the way it looks, and overall, it kind of makes the car look bigger than it actually is. We’re testing the top spec ultra model, which rides on bigger 18-inch alloy wheels, gets LED headlights, and costs around $5,000 over the base model, but gets plenty more equipment. The cabin is super impressive. Yes, there’s a couple of hard plastics here and there, but there’s also some good soft touches, and the overall design is really contemporary. It makes you feel like you’re in a bit of a spaceship, something futuristic, and I like that. The traditional gear shifter has been replaced by a slick rotary dial, and the dash features these cool touch-sensitive climate controls. There’s a huge dual pane panoramic glass roof which also has a retractable blind. Seat comfort is pretty good, with decent fine cushioning, and the exposed stitching is a nice touch. And while the fake leather upholstery feels soft, it looks a bit cheap, and only the driver gets a power adjustable seat. Haval has crammed a lot of technology into this little SUV, and it starts with this giant 12.3-inch touchscreen display. It’s really high res, nice and responsive to the button presses, and best of all, it comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The native menu is straightforward and easy to navigate, and it works surprisingly well. A large wireless phone charger is a nice touch too, plus there’s loads of driver assistance and safety tech, ticking all the boxes on every model grade, including a very effective lane assist system. Some of the other gadgets include a digital driver’s display, you’ve got a head-up display beaming info onto the windscreen, and there’s even a camera here, this is a driver fatigue monitoring system that alerts you if you get a bit drowsy. But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Check this out, the steering wheel adjusts up and down, but not in and out, annoying for taller drivers, plus, accessing the climate control, you have to drill down into the infotainment system, which is not ideal if you’re in a bit of a hurry. Incidental storage is very good for a small SUV. I really like the fact that you’ve got a phone holder here, and it doesn’t rattle around too much. You’ve also got a nice big area under here with two USB ports, a 12 volt socket, you’ve got your central bin here and two cup holders, one for regular cups and one for the babyccino. The door pockets as well, not too bad, a little bit tight on the driver side. Back seat room is surprisingly good, leg room exceptionally so. Head room is so-so, but it’s comfortable here. It would be a bit of a squeeze adding a third person in the middle, but overall, it doesn’t really feel like a tiny SUV. Back seat amenity is really good too, with a fold-down armrest, two cup holders, twin air vents and two USB ports. You also get two ISOFIX child seat anchorages and LED reading lights. There’s no powered tailgate, but that’s to be expected in a vehicle of this price, and while boot space isn’t massive, it’s not terrible either. You’ve got two shopping bag hooks, an LED light, and also a space-saver spare. Alright, let’s see how she drives. First things first, and I gotta say the view of the road is not that great. I mean, it’s good, there’s a big windscreen, but it’s not elevated. It feels kind of like a small sedan or a hatch. However, this car is nothing if not approachable. The steering is light and easy, and the seven-speed dual clutch gearbox delivers smooth, quiet shifts. The four cylinder power plant produces sufficient power for urban duties and day-to-day driving. There’s a decent amount of thrust from the 1.5 litre turbo petrol engine, but the engine and the gearbox feel a little bit laggy. When you put the foot down, it just takes a little while to respond. That said, the car is impressively refined. It’s very quiet in operation. While it’s not as fuel efficient as some rival SUVs, it gets the job done. In terms of ride and handling, the Jolion does a pretty good job, and it certainly feels like it’s got better body control through the corners than its H6 bigger sibling. But it doesn’t handle as well as models from Hyundai and KIA, which have locally-tuned suspension. That said, it rides smoothly over bumps and generally feels settled on rougher roads. Gripes? There’s a few. The speedo and the rev meter are quite small and sometimes hard to read. The indicator’s on the wrong side, and the trip computer actually locked up a couple of times too. It was completely unresponsive. It’s far from perfect to drive, but cabin comfort is impressive, and with its advanced driver aids, it’s the sort of SUV you could happily punch out long road trips with. I reckon if you put someone in this car and didn’t tell them where it was made, they’d think it was Japanese. It’s very refined. And when it comes to parking, it actually outshines most Japanese SUVs, with one of the clearest and most comprehensive parking cameras on the market. It has loads of different angles, 360 degree coverage, and even a 3D mode, so there’s no excuse to ding this SUV trying to park. The Haval brand is still relatively unknown outside China, so the seven year warranty should add peace of mind. If you can move past the funny name, you’ll find a lot to like with the Jolion, ride, handling and refinement levels are pretty good, but value for money and tech levels, excellent. This is an impressive machine.

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