It has to rate as one of the most undersung secrets on the South African automotive scene – and now it's back.
Yup, it's the GWM H5. And I, for one, am delighted that it's been refreshed and reintroduced after a brief absence from the sales charts.
The H5, after all, combines uncompromised quality, style, durability, driveability, and enough interior space to house a basketball team. It also boasts everything from a four-star A NCAP crash rating to climate control to an infotainment system with touchscreen to a reverse camera.
But above all, it's a value proposition that makes most of its competitors seem expensive – just what you'd expect from GWM, which during its decade on the local market has redefined the term “value-for-money.”
And how do I know all this?
Well, some while back I spent six months with a GWM H5 long-term press vehicle.
Six months during which the H5 was used for everything from running around the urban environment, to long open-road trips, to meandering down rutted Drakensberg country roads where its 180mm ground clearance was useful indeed.
Digging into the archives, on receiving the brand-new H5 – delivered with all of 68km on the clock – I wrote in a motoring publication that:
“Of all the overused, insidious marketing and advertising terms out there, none is quite so guaranteed to have one discreetly vomiting in one’s mouth as bargain.' As init’s a bargain!' and derivatives thereof.
“It’s a vile and ghastly term.
“And yet when it comes to Great Wall Motors’ H5, I can think of no better way to sum up this machine.” One of the things that immediately impressed about this sizeable SUV was that it represented a massive leap over the general, rather negative perception of Chinese vehicles. Especially among those unfamiliar with GWM products at the time.
“But let’s not forget that when Japanese cars first forayed onto Western markets some decades ago, they were subject to similar doom-saying. And of course they’re now a byword for excellence,” I wrote.
“In fact, I’ll go one further and say that I’d very probably consider buying one after time spent with the H5,” I added. And after half-a-year with “my” H5, I was left even more impressed than when the vehicle was first delivered.
“Of course, you can’t fault me for being fond of this machine – as with all current vehicles from this Chinese manufacturer, it’s rolling testament to massive advances made in a very short space of time,” I wrote.
“Vehicles like this big SUV represent standalone designs, and rather well-made ones at that. When it was delivered I gave the H5 a careful inspection, and fit and finish were close to flawless,” I said.
“Just what you’d expect from an established European or Japanese – or yes, Korean – manufacturer. And in several months of daily use, the only thing that has worn, and only slightly at that, is the driver’s carpet.”
That's it. Otherwise the H5 was still in showroom condition.
Now I'm not the only one to be impressed by this machine.
Writing about the relaunched H5 – currently available with a punchy 2.4-litre petrol mill making 100kW and 200Nm at 4 000rpm, with more derivatives to follow – AutoMart was moved to comment that:
“Daring, bold and adventurous, the GWM H5 is a remarkable ride. It offers you excellent value-for-money without compromising on quality. With this GWM SUV, you can arrive at your destination relaxed and ready to handle whatever life throws at you.”
And with a sticker price of – drum roll, please – R209 900 for the GWM H5 2.4 4X2 City, nothing in this segment comes close. Nothing.
Especially when you consider that this special Tenth Anniversary price means a R35 000 deduction off the normal price, plus includes a five-year/100 000km warranty.
Did anybody say “unrivalled value-for-money”?