Jolion is the latest offering in an expanding range of SUVs from Chinese manufacturer Haval, AKA Great Wall Motors (GWM).
You remember them, the guys that got the tradies all hot and bothered back in 2009 with cheap utes, followed soon after by the X200/X240 SUV based on the same platform.
It was all about the price, but safety soon became an issue and the brand disappeared off the lots for a while while it addressed this problem.
A couple of years ago Great Wall Motors became simply GWM, but it’s still a bit confusing because Jolion is a Haval and a GWM at the same time — and it carries both badges.
Whatever. The vehicles now come with a full array of safety equipment, with a range that chops and changes but now includes Jolion, the larger H6 and H6GT (coupe-shaped).
Jolion is the smallest and cheapest of the SUVs.
What’s it cost?
Jolion is priced from $28,490 for the Premium grade, $30,990 for the Lux, $33,990 for the Ultra, and $34,485 for the recently added Vanta with a fashionable black visage.
Metallic paint adds $495 but all prices are driveaway.
Standard kit includes two-zone climate air, PM2.5 air filter, faux leather upholstery, real leather wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats, six-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat four-way adjustable passenger seat.
Jolion Ultra sits on 18-inch alloys, with a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, DRLs and fog lights, auto-dimming rear view mirror, auto lights and wipers, rear parking sensors plus a 360 degree camera.
Infotainment consists of a big, bright 12.3-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio with DTS sound processing, Bluetooth, AM/FM radio, Android Auto and Apple Carplay, wireless phone charging, with a front USB port for data and charging and another one in the back for charging only — plus a single 12 volt outlet in the front.
Bearing in mind that Ultra was the top of the line model, until Vanta came along, what it doesn’t get is satellite navigation or DAB+ digital radio — two big ticket items in car entertainment these days.
Yes, you can hook up your phone through CarPlay or Android Auto, and use it to provide navigation directions — but try getting it to work when you don’t have access to internet.
Jolion is yet to be tested by the ANCAP organisation, but offers a comprehensive range of safety support systems, including seven airbags, a rear-view camera with guidelines and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian and bicycle detection.
There’s also Heads Up Display, Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR), Lane Change Assist with Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA).
Of note is the driver fatigue camera that protrudes like an accusing finger from the front, driver-side pillar is quick to tell you when you’re doing the wrong thing.
In fact, you’re likely to get sick of it and go looking for a switch to turn it off. We thought about it.
Jolion is backed by a 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty, 5 years roadside assist and 5 years Capped Price Servicing.
What’s it go like?
Jolion is quite large and comfortable for the price, with heated power-adjust front seats, air for back seat passengers and a handy-sized boot, with a space saver spare under the floor.
Take a walk around to the passenger side and you’ll find that the front passenger door lacks the little thumb button to provide keyless entry.
And, BLEEP, the steering wheel does not have telescopic adjustment.
Power is delivered by a 1.5 litre four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with outputs of 110kW from 5600 to 6000 revs and 220Nm of torque from 2000 to 4400 revs.
It’s the latter available across a reasonably wide band that gives the car its get up and go.
The engine is mated to a new generation 7-speed DCT transmission (twin clutch auto), with power pushed to the front wheels.
There are four driving modes, Normal,Eco, Sport and Snow, with fuel consumption a claimed 8.1L/100km on the combined cycle from a 60-litre tank.
Built on the company’s new LEMON global lightweight modular platform, Jolion replaces the previous, smaller H2.
It’s 4472mm long, 1841mm wide, and 1619mm high, with a 2700mm wheelbase, with a kerb weight of 1345 to 1370kg, giving it the edge over many competitors.
Compare this to say a Toyota RAV4.
RAV is from 4570 to 4600mm long, 1855mm wide and 1660mm high, with a 2690mm wheelbase.
It weighs between 1530 and 1640kg in non-hybrid form.
By the way, Jolion means ‘first love’ in Chinese.
The ride feels reasonably comfortable on well formed surfaces, but can be harsh at other times.
Swap to a Japanese SUV for comparison purposes and you might change your mind, however. Mitsubishi’s Eclipse Cross is a good example, because it has a far more refined ride.
The 1.5-litre turbocharged engine offers a good compromise between performance and fuel economy.
But again, there is an issue with refinement, because throttle response is jerky and sporadic, and can be an issue in low speed parking manoeuvres.
Like a lot of twin clutch transmissions, it can be slow to hook up.
Changing between forward and reverse with the round gear selector can also be tricky when you’re in a hurry, say if you overshoot a driveway and have to do a short, quick backup.
To switch between drive modes you need to access the infotainment system.
We tried Sport mode which became intolerable after a while, but it is one of the few cars that we have driven that will stay in the selected mode between starts.
The head-up display is a bonus. So is speed sign recognition.
But the adaptive cruise control system could also do with some refinement, especially when it brakes for no apparent reason, with constant tugging on the wheel even when the indicator has been activated (which should indicate to the system you are changing lanes on purpose).
Then there’s the repeated warnings that you’re too close to the vehicle in front. Drop back and someone is sure to cut in.
And what about the “smart dodge function” which steers the car to the right if you’re passing a truck or bus.