Jolion is the smallest of Haval’s SUVs and by virtue of that fact it is also the cheapest.
The range was expanded with the addition of a sporty S model in November that with a raft of black bits sounds a lot like the earlier Vanta.
But this time around there’s a more powerful turbocharged engine together with a more sophisticated rear suspension setup to justify the sporty persona — and it’s pretty good.
It’s not a bad looking bus either, with its short rump, long bonnet and aggressive fascia.
What’s it cost?
Prices for Jolion start from $28,490 for the Premium, followed by Lux at $30,990, Ultra at $33,990, S $36,990, then Lux Hybrid from $36,990 and Ultra Hybrid at $40,990.
Metallic paint adds $495 and all prices are driveaway, no more to pay.
Standard kit includes two-zone climate air, PM2.5 air filter, artificial leather upholstery, real leather wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats and six-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat.
There’s also adaptive cruise control, LED head, fog and daytime running lights, auto lights and wipers, auto dimming rear view mirror, rear park sensors and a panoramic sunroof.
Infotainment consists of a 12.3-inch touchscreen, six-speaker audio with DTS sound processing, Bluetooth, AM/FM radio, wired Android Auto and Apple Carplay, wireless phone charging, with a front USB port for data and charging and another one in the rear for charging only — plus a single 12 volt outlet in the front.
What you don’t get is DAB+ digital radio nor is satellite navigation part of the deal, which quite frankly we can’t believe. For Chinese cars to gain acceptance and ultimately cement their place in the market, these two items should be a given.
You can hook up your phone through CarPlay or Android Auto, and use it to provide navigation — but try getting it to work when you don’t have access to internet.
S adds 18-inch black alloys, black door mirrors, black roof rails, a black side garnish and blacked-out lower front and rear bumpers.
Five star safety extends to seven airbags, including a centre bag, reverse and 360 degree camera and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian, cyclist and crossroads detection.
There’s also Head-Up Display (HUD), Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Blind Spot Detection & Lane Change Assist, Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR).
Note however that the hybrid version is yet to receive a rating.
We should make mention of the driver fatigue/attention camera fixed to the inside of the driver side front door pillar.
Take your eyes off the road for a few seconds and it sounds a warning. Not a bad idea, but it doesn’t take long to wear out its welcome. If you look carefully, you can switch it off in settings — we did.
There are two Isofix anchors for the outer back seats and three top-tether points for child seats.
Jolion is backed by a 7-year/unlimited km warranty, 5-years roadside assistance and 5-years capped price servicing.
What’s it go like?
Jolion is surprisingly large and comfortable, with heated power-adjust front seats and a good-sized boot with a space saver spare under the floor.
It’s 4472mm long, 1841mm wide, and 1619mm high, with a 2700mm wheelbase, with a kerb weight of 1370kg, giving it the edge over many competitors.
Boot space is a generous 430 litres with the rear seats in place, or 1133L with them folded and the wagon has a 1500kg braked tow capacity.
Entry is keyless but only for the driver that is, with a thumb-operated button on the door handle. A trip around to the other side of the car reveals the front passenger door lacks the little activator.
Once you’re inside, there’s plenty of room inside, even in the back seat, together with air outlets for rear seat passengers.
Although the driver’s seat is power adjustable, the steering wheel surprisingly lacks reach adjustment.
In the S, performance receives a boost courtesy of a new 1.5-litre four cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that delivers 130kW of power and 270Nm of torque, the latter between 2000 and 4400 revs.
That’s 20kW and 50Nm more than the rest of the range.
The new engine is mated to a seven-speed dual clutch auto, with drive to the front wheels, four drive modes and steering wheel-mounted change paddles for ultimate control.
Gear selection is via a space-saving rotary control located in the centre console. Anti clockwise for reverse, clockwise for drive/manual with a centre button for park which automatically engages the electric handbrake.
Fuel consumption from the 55-litre tank is a claimed 7.5L/100km and it takes standard 91 unleaded.
That’s an improvement of 0.6 litres per 100km compared to the standard 1.5-litre engine.
We were getting bang on 10.0L/100km after more than 600km.
As mentioned ride and handling benefit from a new, independent, multi-link rear suspension that replaces the torsion beam setup found on other models.
I’m starting to warm to this car. The basics are here but there are so many things I’d change if I had input into the design process.
The extra power delivers a lively driving experience, but it is overshadowed by the twin clutch transmission which makes the car difficult to control in low speed manoeuvres.
For example, nosing up a slope to park behind another vehicle, or backing out of a parking spot slowly enough to make sure there’s nothing coming is more difficult than it should be.
A touch on the accelerator produces nothing, while a second heavier attempt is liable to send the car shooting forward, or backwards as the case may be.
It needs some adjustment and refinement.
The ride too needs some refinement. It’s okay on smooth roads, but get it off the good stuff and it quickly becomes harsh and jarring — although it handles surprisingly well.
The brakes are first rate, as we discovered in a series of emergency stops.
To access the different drive modes it is necessary to drill down through the touchscreen menu. No flicking between them.
Ideally, put it in Sport mode, which is more preemptive and removes any lag between gear changes, or switch to manual mode and change gears using the paddle shifts.
Meanwhile, in response to customer feedback, buttons have been added below the touchscreen to make it easier to adjust cabin temperature.
That’s a good idea, but the only button we found was for on/off and your still have to play pin the tail on the donkey to adjust the temperature up or down using the screen.
Then there’s the trip computer that, like Aladdin’s cave, is accessed by a secret button, or more specifically by holding down the OK button on the steering wheel for several seconds. Then you have a few short seconds before the options disappear and the process needs to be started over again.
Not to mention the reverse camera which lacks guidelines and cruise control which can be adjusted only in 5km/h increments.
For Pete’s sake!
What we like?
Well equipped (mostly)
Packs a punch
Long list of safety assist
Plenty of rear legroom
Rear air vents
What we don’t like?
Misses out on digital radio
Same goes for built-in satnav
Steering wheel lacks reach adjustment
Jerky throttle response
Irritating driver warnings
The bottom line?
Once again, the Haval Jolion has a lot to offer for the price.
But it is in desperate need of some refinement before it is ready to take its place as a family favourite.
Someone with cabin ergonomics experience would be invaluable, instead of the geeks they let loose on the instruments and infotainment system.