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Can you imagine not being able to get a global best seller of any kind in Australia?  Could you imagine not being able to buy a best-selling novel or album, or the world’s best-selling brands of computer, smartphone or sound system?  We wouldn’t put up with it – would we?  Strangely, though, this is exactly what’s been happening until now in the world of SUVs.  It wasn’t until the middle of 2016 that Australian drivers were able to get their hands on the steering wheels of one of the most popular SUVs in the world: the Haval.

Haval is the newest player in the SUV market in Australia, coming to these shores after dominating the Chinese SUV market for the best part of 10 years.  Haval is an offshoot of Great Wall, much in the same way that Lexus is an offshoot of Toyota, FPV is an offshoot of Ford and Arbarth is an offshoot of Mini.  However, in this case, Haval specialises in SUVs where the parent company Great Wall goes in for 4x4s and utes.  You won’t find any other type of vehicle wearing the Haval badge: it’s all about the SUVs and nothing but the SUVs.  They may come in different sizes, but they’re all SUVs. What’s more, Haval makes classy SUVs – vehicles that combine serious off-roading ability with precision engineering and style.  While parent company Great Wall tends towards producing reliable no-frills vehicles, Haval throws in a few more bells and whistles, plus a shade more luxury, while still keeping the price towards the lower end.  To create these vehicles, the design team has benefited from the knowledge and flair of the former head of the BMW design team, Pierre LeClerq.  In summary, the guiding principle behind Haval design is to have something that’s practical first and beautiful second.  Mr LeClerq is eloquent on the ethos and goals of the design team, as you can hear in the video below:

Oddly enough, given the proximity of China to Australia (and the fact that the interior of many Havals are trimmed with Australian leather), Haval vehicles were launched and sold in Europe long before there were any plans to sell them on the Australian market.  In fact, Haval has been a bit slow off the mark to get to the dealers in Sydney and Melbourne, as Haval Australia was established a year after one of these SUVs had taken yet another top 10 placing in the Dakar rally and won the first stage.  Haval is certainly not a rare vehicle, especially considered on a global scale.  Over one million have been sold, mostly in its home country of China, making this one of the world’s top-selling SUV marques – ahead of other big names such as Mitsubishi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Havals seem to do quite well in the tougher breed of rally.  The Haval team does well in the Dakar, as mentioned above, and regularly cleans up in the China Grand Rally (CGR).  The CGR is a 16-day event covering about 10,000 km and is considered to be about as gruelling and demanding as the better-known Dakar.  This will be good news for many Australian drivers, especially those who want a vehicle that looks respectable when doing the school run but makes an equally respectable showing off the road… and we’ve got a lot of off-road territory here in Australia.

Haval has plans to extend its range of offerings in the Australian market.  To judge by the appearance of several concept hybrid SUVs at the 2016 Beijing Motorshow, what’s in store for us from this Chinese manufacturer is very promising indeed.  We’ll keep you updated as new Haval models are released onto the Australian market.