By DEREK OGDEN, Marque Motoring
The Chinese automobile maker GWM Haval has spiced up its popular small petrol sports utility vehicle segment with the addition of a Jolion S, as well as doubling up on the hybrid models to two.
With the Jolion Premium acting as the entry-level, at $28,490 drive-away, the ‘S’ variant ($36,990), slots in the six-model range between the Ultra and the two hybrids, the lesser with Lux trim and priced the same as the S.
The Jolion Ultra Hybrid ($40,990) tops off the line-up.
The new Jolion S, on test here, stands alone from the rest of the model range with a pepped-up power plant, fresh multi-link rear suspension and various unique black exterior features for a sportier appearance.
Inside the cabin, only on the ‘S’, is a new layout of buttons directly under the centre dash infotainment screen, preventing their accidental operation.
Owners benefit from GWM’s seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty and economical capped price servicing costs for five years.
Setting the Jolion S apart from other models are black 18-inch wheels, black door mirror caps, black roof rails, black side garnish, and blacked-out lower front and rear bumpers.
Jolians in general, feature a multi-faceted pattern of daytime running lights bookending LED headlamps and fog lights.
The grille adds to the shine with sparkling finish and horizontal accents to create a bold, if flashy, show.
The car’s profile is standard SUV lines with a coupe-like roof curve approaching the C-pillar.
Except having more badges than a Scout jamboree, the rear is as plain as the front is glitzy.
The general occupant opinion was that heated front seats were some of the most comfortable in this class of car, while faux leather with contrast stitching and Haval logo was good enough to give the impression of the luxury of the real thing.
That as maybe, but the lack of angling the driver’s seat base for added comfort and the absence of lumbar support shaved off some of the shine.
The leather-clad steering misses out on reach adjustment.
It’s angle only.
Thanks to a long wheelbase the bench-like back seat accommodates three across with generous legroom.
In addition are air vents, USB charge ports behind the centre console, rear map pockets, bottle holders in the doors, and a fold-down centre armrest with extra cup holders.
Headroom is compromised by the sloping roofline and sunroof, as is the rear view is restricted by the angled window.
Storage is taken care of by a central bin and a pair of cup holders in two sizes in the centre console, while door pockets can fit bottles.
Boot space checks in at 430 litres (enough to take a couple of big suitcases) and 1133 litres with the 60:40 second row stowed.
There’s room only for an under-floor space-saver spare.
A 12.3-inch touchscreen crowns the central dashboard and a 7-inch digital display sits directly in front of the driver.
Topping this off is a head-up windscreen display featuring digital speedo, speed limits and lane discipline diagram.
Connectivity consists of the 12.3-inch colour multimedia touchscreen linked to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Audio is handled by a six-speaker system, which misses out on a volume knob or toggle, other than on the steering wheel.
The front passenger is left out, limited only to using the audio menu via the touchscreen.
The Jolion S continues the quirky driver focused camera constantly checking whether he or she is paying attention to matters at hand.
A camera fixed to the A-pillar serves up an audible ding and the admonishment ‘Hey, don’t stray!’ on the touchscreen on catching what it thinks is concentration wavering.
Chinese checkers? It’s all a bit naff to me.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The Haval Jolion S is powered by an upgraded 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine hitched up to a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission driving through the front wheels.
This is enough to come up with a maximum 130 kW and 270 Nm, 20 kW and 50 Nm above the trio below it in the line-up.
Standard safety features include seven airbags including front-centre, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection.
There’s lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop / go and safe exit warning.
Unfortunately, some of the assistance is a tad too keen comfortably to help out.
Cameras create an all-round plan view of the vehicle, while Haval’s A-pillar-mounted spy camera keeps a check of the driver’s behaviour behind the wheel.
All Jolians are rated five stars for safety on 2022 testing.
Despite upgrades to the powerplant, the turbo turned out to be a little hesitant to connect, especially on inclines.
This was even more pronounced in reverse gear, when power came in annoying bursts.
Once on the move, however, the Jolion S put on a boisterous (some would say harsh) performance, especially when wound up.
Ragged edges did appear in stop / start city motoring.
As stated by the maker, expect a combined urban / highway fuel consumption of around 7.5 litres per 100km, compared to the standard 1.5’s 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres.
A 55-litre tank takes 91 RON unleaded petrol.
The Jolion S is the only model in the line-up to be fitted with a multi-link independent rear suspension, in place of the standard torsion beam set-up, which the maker claims offers ‘enhanced ride and handling’.
The test car took to sweeping around fast bends with the tail fixed firmly to the road.
However, the suspension was susceptible to a bang or two from behind on bumpy roads.
The rotary gearshift is wayward in selecting (D)rive or (M)anual mode and spins without any transmission connection if not careful.
On the other hand, new push-button climate control switches on the centre dash have alleviated the previous faults with the touch controls, which were easy to catch accidentally while resting the palm when working the touch screen.
While the price of the Haval Jolion S is $3000 up on the past petrol flagship, the Ultra, there is more in the newbie’s performance and packaging to more than justify the financial jump.