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Haval H9 2025 review


GWM’s Haval brand has produced a very Land Rover Defender-esque H9 SUV; it’s yet to be confirmed for Australia, but what about the new seven-seater is worthy of our atttention?

Good points

  • In vogue boxy retro design
  • Lavishly appointed cabin
  • Large, sharp and fast touchscreen
  • Ventilated reclining middle row seats
  • Seven-seat versatility
  • Seven-year warranty

Needs work

  • Unconfirmed arrival date or price
  • Treads on GWM Tank 500’s toes
  • Engine line-up needs a hybrid
  • Diesel unlikely to be offered here
  • Haval resale remains a problem
  • Too much Land Rover Defender inspiration?

Remember the Haval H9? It was GWM’s flagship seven-seater – sold in Australia between 2015 and 2021 – which barely troubled the established 4×4 large SUV set with its circa 300 annual sales.

But there’s change in the air. This just-revealed second-generation Haval H9 boasts the visual appeal so obviously lacking in the original, its boxiness and circular LED headlights exuding serious Land Rover Defender and Mercedes G-Wagen vibes.

There are strong rumblings it’s Australia-bound too, potentially within a year. Haval’s sales have more than doubled here since the old H9 was pulled during Covid, boosting the business case for something to sit above its increasingly-popular Jolion and H6 SUVs.

2024 GWM Haval H9 front 3/4 on display at show

On first sample, this heavily revised H9 has the showroom appeal our market laps up. Alongside its rugged looks are an abundance of luxury trimmings, technology and features. No, it won’t have the resale of a Toyota, but we instant gratification lot may not care a jot.

We visited GWM’s factory and proving ground in Baoding, China, ahead of this year’s Beijing Motor Show. On the menu was a smorgasbord of new or updated product, and with GWM’s sales surge in our market in recent years, it was made clear “Everything’s under consideration” by the GWM powers-that-be.

That includes this new H9, not least due to the warm reception it received from visiting journalists, Australian GWM dealers and you vocal lot ready with an opinion or three after seeing footage and pictures of it on social media. 

2024 GWM Haval H9 LED tail light detail

We had ample time to poke around the H9’s interior, but only a brief passenger ride over a not very testing course. We lobbied for a quick steer, but a very serious man insisted such a thing wasn’t possible. 

In brief, the boxy H9’s a quite imposing unit in the metal, offers a well-appointed luxe-focused interior and, on the Chinese market, comes with either a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol or 2.4-litre turbo-diesel. 

Dimensions are 4859mm long, 1934mm wide and 1853mm tall, with ground clearance of 224mm. Think Toyota Prado-sized and you’re in the ballpark.

2024 GWM Haval H9 rear 3/4 angle on display

As with the old H9 it’s built on a ladder-frame chassis, has a low-range transfer case, diff locks front and rear, and a selection of off-road drive modes.

Herein lies the problem. GWM already sells a serious seven-seat off-roader in its freshly-arrived Tank 500. Offering an almost-as-capable new H9 isn’t ideal on the product planning front.

What Haval really needs is a seven-seat on-road-specific monocoque SUV to challenge the likes of a Toyota Kluger, Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe. Something with less off-road chops, more on-bitumen comfort and a lower price.

But the H9 could be seen – by some – as a cheaper Toyota Prado rival. Or a budget and less hardcore offering than the Tank 500, Isuzu MU-X or Ford Everest.

2024 GWM Haval H9 interior wide shot

The hybrid-only Tank 500 costs $66,490 (Lux) and $73,990 (Ultra) to drive-away, so the H9 could make a case for itself if it landed with a price tag in the low-$50,000s. Five years ago, the old H9 in Ultra guise was a seriously loaded SUV with tempting $44,990 sticker price.

We weren’t furnished with anything helpful like confirmed specifications for the new H9, but the four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, mated to an eight-speed auto, apparently delivers a rather undercooked 165kW but healthy 385Nm.

Sources suggest the turbo-diesel is 2WD only and offers just 137kW – but solid 480Nm of torque – using a nine-speed auto gearbox. GWM Australia communications and marketing boss Steve Maciver appeared cold on the idea of bringing a turbo-diesel to Australia in light of the new NVES emissions rules.

2024 GWM Haval H9 engine bay shot

A hybrid would, you’d think, be of far greater appeal from both a fuel economy and emissions perspective. Again it’s unconfirmed, but the non-hybrid turbo-petrol we passengered in has a rather confronting economy figure of 11.4L/100km.

Sat in the passenger seat – beside another very serious man, this time with actual police lights on the shoulders of his hi-vis jacket – the petrol motor seemed to offer ample performance to haul along the big SUV. 

Our mirror-smooth road ensured it was a comfy and cossetted ride, while there was no shouty engine note or jerky transmission. Our driver refused to corner with much zeal, but it was clear this H9’s height and body lean – while not problematic – was better suited to touring than taking on a Porsche Macan in the twisties.

2024 GWM Haval H9 drive selector and centre console

If I’m honest, I soon forgot about the drive experience – it’s impossible to learn anything of much note on such a passenger ride – and focused on how damn cosy and well finished this H9’s cabin seems.

The old H9 offered decent kit for your coin, but the bones were still quite utilitarian and cheap-feeling beneath fancy features like massaging seats. Deeper love’s been thrown at this new car.

Seats in our test car were of seriously plush-feeling, squidgy and soft faux-leather, finished in classy Terracotta colour. Rear chairs were equally lovely with a superb amount of recline, plus matched the fronts in being heated and ventilated with their own individual control below the air vents. 

I’ve come to learn many Australian families want exceptional comfort over long road trips or a day’s off-roading, and here, on first sample, the H9 ticks this box. A panoramic roof is a boon for overhead nature watchers too.

2024 GWM Haval H9 front 3/4 showroom shot

From the sink-in spongy seat the driver has a panoramic driver display housing decent graphics and customisability, while the centre screen’s a landscape-style whopper, looking up to about 14-inches. Navigating menus proved impressively fast and the camera’s of good resolution. 

Kudos too for putting climate buttons through metal-look switches rather than the screen, while this H9 shares the Tank’s chunky dog-leg shaped gear shifter, plus an array of buttons for the diff locks and a rotary dial for drive modes. So far, so solid.

I’m a sucker for rear-mounted spare wheels and side-hinged door, but I also know its limitations. It’s a heavy big thing to open and access the boot, and while this space is massive with five seats in place, with the third row up there’s barely room for a couple of shopping bags.

That said, there’s fair space in the rear two seats, and each scores the same lovely faux leather with decent padding. It’s no Kia Carnival in the back row, but younger kids would happily be accommodated here. Oh, and the way the back two seats fold rapidly with just straps rather than electrics is a win in my eyes.

2024 GWM Haval H9 front 3/4 slanted angle

This roomy, well-appointed cabin could seal the deal for buyers already sold on the H9’s in-vogue exterior looks. Its retro-like round front headlights with surrounding square casing are appealing indeed, apeing the likes of the Defender, G-Wagen, 70 Series LandCruiser, Suzuki Jimny and even the 2025 round-headlight Toyota Prado.

The H9 adds an in-yer-face giant chrome grille between them, and with massive HAVAL lettering in the centre you’ll leave nobody guessing about this car’s origins. Rear lights are a bit too Landie Defender to sit entirely comfortably with the copyright team.

In profile the H9’s overhangs are relatively short and the long wheelbase, squared-off edges and boxy wheel arches make it look adventure-ready. Shame our test car looked so under-wheeled (on 18-inchers), but no doubt 20s would find their way onto examples heading to Australia.

2024 GWM Haval H9 side angle outdoor


This big Haval has a lot going for it on initial taste. Not everyone will agree, but I reckon it’s a shame it’s a body-on-frame construction rather than monocoque. This H9 no doubt has impressive off-road chops, but what Haval really needs is an on-road focused, comfy, affordable seven-seater.

Should it hit Aussie showrooms – and there’s every chance it will by next year – it’ll no doubt still find favour if priced correctly. A high-spec H9 at under $60,000 would be interesting indeed, although you’d feel it’d still steal sales from GWM’s own Tank 500. Not least if the H9 can match its 3000kg towing capacity. We’re told the old H9’s 2500kg rating has been improved, but not by how much.

There are many unanswered questions about this large SUV, but Haval’s a brand on the move and with sales success enough to merit taking risks. The H9 would be such a risk, but few would argue it’d be an impressive new flagship in its SUV line-up.

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