Although it’s somewhat more expensive than the Corolla Cross, the Haval Jolion hybrid punches back with willing performance. We spent a week with one.
REVIEW: Haval Jolion 1.5 HEV Super Luxury
AND just like that, hybrids have become cool. Gone are the days when they were looked down upon as overly complicated eco-warriors driven by tree-hugging hippies who never washed their hair, not even after hours of singing Kumbaya around a smoky camp fire.
But let’s put these stereotypes aside once and for all. In the last year alone hybrid sales have surged by over 500% in South Africa, and for the most part you can thank the Toyota Corolla Cross for that, which has made hybrid motoring a lot more accessible to the masses. That and the fact that fuel is ridiculously expensive.
Now Haval is getting in on the action, first with the larger H6 HEV and now with the Jolion hybrid model that you see here. Priced between R549,950 and R579,950 (in March 2023) depending on the spec level you desire, the Jolion HEV is however positioned more upmarket than the aforementioned Toyota – which ranges from R442,000 to R495,200. But for its price premium the Chinese alternative offers you a significantly more powerful drivetrain and additional luxury features.
The Jolion’s self-charging hybrid system pairs a 1.5-litre turbopetrol engine to an electric motor for rather beefy system outputs of 140kW and 375Nm. As you’d expect with numbers like that, the Jolion HEV offers brisk and effortless performance that even borders on exciting if you approach with a heavy right foot.
But economy, of course, is meant to be the big selling point here and the Jolion HEV does not disappoint in this regard, even if we did find it a touch thirstier than the Corolla Cross.
During its time with us our car averaged between 5.5 and 6.1 litres per 100km, depending on the level of driving enthusiasm, and it remained in a similar range regardless of whether we were driving on the highway or in town.
It’s in the latter instance that hybrids really shine as the regenerative braking opportunities and low-speed acceleration on electric power alone allow you to achieve highway-like consumption in the city.
Overall the Haval Jolion HEV provides a very satisfying driving experience, with smooth power delivery, and somewhat seamless activation of the petrol motor under acceleration. The vehicle is also impressively quiet and there was little faulting the ride quality or road holding of this car.
As for the cabin, Haval has done a decent job of creating an environment that’s easy on the eye and of a good perceived quality. The synthetic leather seats also look the part with their distinctive stitching design that reminds us of the chairs in the H6 GT.
Thanks to the standard digital instrument cluster and the 12.3-inch (31.2cm) infotainment system on the Super Luxury flagship model, the cockpit also has a modern feel to it. The lower-specced Luxury model, incidentally, gets a 10.25-inch (26cm) infotainment system.
However it follows an unfortunate modern trend, in that many of the functions that would work better with buttons and knobs have been integrated into the central screen. While you can change some of the ventilation functions using conventional buttons, such as turning the system or the aircon on and off, or demisting, it’s still quite a process to change the temperature or fan speed on the screen.
It can take a while to figure out some of the ins and outs of this vehicle. For instance, changing the drive mode (and you really want to have Eco activated for optimal economy) requires you to swipe across the touchscreen, or dig very deep into a system of menus. Even viewing or resetting the trip metre requires you to hold the steering-mounted OK button for over five seconds. But you will eventually get used to everything.
Another bugbear is that the steering wheel is adjustable only for height, and not for reach.
Moving to the back, we were really impressed with the legroom on offer and sitting behind my driving position I had ample space to stretch out.
The luggage compartment, however, is quite cramped, thanks to the hybrid battery system that results in a really shallow loading area. It also results in no spare wheel, which – let’s be frank – you really don’t want to be stuck without in South Africa.
Interior specification is generous to say the least, and even the base ‘Luxury’ model ships with a panoramic sunroof as well as push-button start, dual-zone climate control with rear ventilation, electric driver’s seat adjustment, cruise control, rear parking sensors and six airbags. This model rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels.
Over and above all that, the ‘Super Luxury’ flagship model gains 18-inch alloys as well as heated front seats, Head-up Display, wireless charging, 360-degree panoramic view camera and a whole entourage of driver assist gadgets such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Traffic Jam Assist and Intelligent Turning Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Detection and more.
Although it’s very tempting to compare the new Haval Jolion HEV to the Toyota Corolla Cross hybrid, it is an altogether different prospect.
It’s quite a lot more expensive, and it’s not quite as economical (although still very frugal by anyone’s standards). But, the Chinese offering does shine with its significantly better performance characteristics and its arguably more modern, feature-packed cabin.
If you’re choosing with your head then the Toyota wins every time, but if you have a bit more budget to blow, the Haval could be a more satisfying option all round.
Compared with its regular Jolion siblings, the HEV has a unique frontal design as well as superior performance and economy, however it does command a price premium of around R135,000 over its non-hybrid siblings and that’s not something you’re going to make back through better fuel consumption any time soon. Bottom line, you’ll be buying this because it’s arguably the most satisfying model in the line-up, not the most budget-friendly.
FACTS: Haval Jolion 1.5 HEV Super Luxury
Engine: 1.5-litre, 4-cyl turbopetrol + electric
Drive: Front-wheel drive
Gearbox: Dedicated Hybrid Transmission (auto)
System power: 140kW
System torque: 375Nm
Claimed consumption (mixed use): 5.0 litres per 100km
Tested consumption (mixed use): 5.8 litres per 100km
Ground clearance: 168mm
Load volume: 337mm
Kerb weight: 1,530kg
Vehicle warranty: 5-year/100,000km
Battery warranty: 8-year/150,000km
Service plan: four-services or 60,000km