Driving No diesel. No gearshift. SUVs with a different twist.

Photo of Sam Jeremic

Buying an SUV for your big trip? Chinese brand Haval says you don’t need a diesel. Or a manual.

It’s not often a car company comes out and completely dismisses a fuel source, but newly arrived Chinese brand Haval has announced that it’s ruled out using diesel engines for its SUV range.

It’s certainly an interesting stance. Haval pitches itself as a premium SUV brand, so the turbo-petrol-only approach should be suitable for most models.

But it does offer the H9 which, as well as being luxurious, is also billed as a go-anywhere off-roader.

Many Australians may baulk at taking an unproven Chinese brand out to Woop Woop, let alone without the towing and fuel economy benefits of a diesel engine.

With the exception of the Jeep Wrangler and soon-to-be-discontinued Toyota FJ Cruiser, most petrol-only SUVs in this size are decidedly urban-based, like the Toyota Kluger or Fiat Freemont.

It’s clear other premium brands think there’s a future in diesel tech, with Audi’s new Q7 only available as a diesel, while BMW recently added a quad-turbo 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel to its 7 Series range offering 294kW and 760Nm yet still capable of using only 5.7L/100km of fuel.

However, Haval Motors Australia chief marketing officer Tim Smith said company engineers believed diesel engine development had “reached its zenith” and all future Havals would be offered with turbo-petrol engines.

He also said the petrol offerings would be complemented by a mix of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric powertrains in “the very near future”.

“The debate about diesel power was a long and robust one, ” Smith said.

“Ultimately, the future of that fuel has been decided by the market, the actions of other companies and a growing push for more stringent clean-air policies.

“We have already seen reaction from markets like India, where the sale of vehicles powered by diesel engines greater than two litres in capacity has been banned since December last year.”

Haval’s sister brand Great Wall, which will soon be taking over its own Australian operations, will still offer a diesel engine in its new ute.

As well as streamlining its engine range, Haval has simplified its line-up by deciding to offer only automatic transmissions.

Currently, only the compact H2 can be had as a manual, with the H8, H9 and upcoming H6 medium-sizer to be auto only.

“Australia has one of the highest proportions for automatic ownership so this is a welcome move for Australian customers, ” Mr Smith said.

“Continued development of automatic transmissions means they are not only less stressful to drive but also more efficient and easier to maintain.

“The new H6 SUV due to arrive here in September will come exclusively with a six-speed Getrag dual-clutch transmission.

“The DCT in the H6 will combine the high efficiency of a manual transmission with sophisticated electronics to achieve a clear reduction in fuel consumption and emissions compared to traditional automatic transmissions.”

Haval’s move towards hybrid and electric technology is certainly on trend in the premium large SUV segment though, with hybrid versions of the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Range Rover Sport, Lexus RX, Porsche Cayenne and Volvo XC90 either on sale or due to arrive soon.

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