The growth in sales of Chinese vehicles continues to gain momentum.
While SAIC subsidiary, MG Motor, is leading the way with its big-selling SUVs, the original breakthrough was made a decade ago by Great Wall with cheap workhorse utilities — though they offered questionable safety.
Great Wall, now re-branded as GWM, continues in the ute market with improved quality, but has now entered the booming SUV market with its three-model Haval range: the large H9, mid-sized H6 and small-medium Jolion.
What’s it cost?
Jolion comes in four grades — Premium, Lux, Ultra and Vanta — competitively priced between $27,490 and $34,485, driveaway.
Our test vehicle was the Ultra, priced from $32,990 plus on roads.
The shape of the Jolion is fairly conservative, dominated by a large chrome grille that’s a bit too large and glitzy for our taste — but which others may love.
The grille is flanked by LED headlights, fog lights and attractive daytime running lights.
The car’s profile is standard SUV, while the back, is plain and square.
Vanta, which was added to the Jolion range in February, is limited to 500 units with a number of black exterior highlights including 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, lower rear bumper trim, door trim and fog light trims.
All Jolion models get the same six-speaker audio system.
The best that can be said about the Jolion Ultra’s infotainment system is that it looks great with its large 12.3-inch hi-res colour multimedia touchscreen.
Unfortunately, as we’re seeing far too often nowadays, too many features are accessed through the screen instead of more convenient, and safer, physical rotary dials.
In Jolion’s case the air conditioning controls sit in a glass, touch control bar below the touchscreen which is difficult to use as well as being all but invisible in broad sunlight.
Wired access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard.
A 7.0-inch LCD digital instrument cluster sits behind the steering wheel with a range of system information.
All Jolion variants get an outstanding list of safety features, but the car is yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Features include seven airbags, automatic emergency braking, rear cross traffic alert and braking, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, secondary collision mitigation, roll movement intervention and hill descent control with hill-start assist control.
There’s also tyre pressure warning, rear parking assist and rear view camera, intelligent cornering control, intelligent crossing; emergency lane keep, forward collision warning, lane departure warning; lane keeping assist, lane centre keeping, traffic sign recognition, blind spot detection with lane change assist and rear collision warning.
A driver inattention alert system is fitted in the form of a camera located at the bottom of the front pillar.
It’s a great feature of course and a potential life-saver, but because so many features require multiple taps on the touchscreen or the air-con bar — it is activated far too often.
Even sillier, as well as the audible alert, a warning comes up on the screen that reads “Hey, Don’t Stray” and calls for a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ response which – guess what – extends driver distraction.
Variants above the entry-level Premium add a 360-degree camera.
What’s it go like?
Power comes from a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine with 110kW of power at 5600 rpm and 210Nm of torque from 2000 revs.
There is no all-wheel drive option, all models are front wheel drive through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Drive modes are Standard, Eco, Sport and Snow.
Our first impression was that Jolion is larger than expected, most noticeably on the inside.
A comparison of its exterior dimensions with other vehicles in its class confirms that it is around the longest (4472 mm) but clearly the widest (1841 mm) making for excellent all-round interior space.
A blend of soft touch surfaces, aluminium-style accents and leather wrapped steering wheel give a premium look to the cabin.
There are plenty of sensible storage options on and below the centre console, with USB ports at both the front and rear.
There’s a large central bin and a pair of cupholders in two sizes in the centre console, while door pockets can fit bottles.
The Ultra that we tested comes with a wireless smartphone charging pad at the bottom of the front console.
Boot space with the rear seatbacks in place is 430 litres, expanding to 1133 litres with the 60:40 second row stowed.
There’s a space-saver spare beneath the boot floor.
Despite its modest power, Jolion moves along nicely enough thanks partly to Haval’s new global lightweight modular platform.