The week of 20 September saw the launch of an epic adventure across the length and breadth of South Africa. Instead of swimmers launching themselves like seals in icy waters, cyclists facing their internal demons on a character building incline or runners' hot footing across flat unrelenting landscapes; this was a motoring adventure.
It took in scenic landscapes and varied terrain; from the wildness of the Kruger National Park to the awe inspiring majesty of two oceans bashing into each other at Cape Point, with the motoring climax in Cape Town.
Like any good story, the 2018 HAVAL Outreach Expedition was made up of three parts, a beginning middle and end.
There were high fives all around when five HAVAL SUVs and, quite fittingly, a sixth Steed back up vehicle showed off all their best bits (and there are many). The HAVAL SUVs strutted their stuff on varied road conditions, encompassing dusty bushveld; soaring, windswept sand dunes, bumpy, potholed roads to tarred surfaces.
The 15 day HAVAL Outreach Expedition began in Johannesburg on 20 September, journeying to the heart of the bushveld, Skukuza in the Kruger National Park. A great place to spend a Friday in anyone's book!
With evening temperatures of 32 degrees (which felt like 34 degrees) the weather gods were being considerate of night time wild life viewing and vehicle testing. Humidity was a somewhat manageable 40%.
The weekend of 22 and 23 September was spent in Sodwana, offering a terrific opportunity to test the off road capability of the HAVAL H9 and its siblings.
Why the fanfare?
HAVAL arrived in South Africa in May 2017. In the space of a year HAVAL South Africa has achieved year on year growth of 500%. The HAVAL retail network is growing exponentially and is forecast to reach 35 dealerships by the end of 2018.
The first products offered by HAVAL; the compact H1 and H2 were met with keen interest. The portfolio soon expanded; to include HAVAL H6, H6C and H9.
The 2018 HAVAL Outreach Expedition showcased the formidable capability of three models in the HAVAL series. Two H9's, two H6C's and one H2 were used for the journey with one Steed 5E (fittingly) as the support vehicle, carrying tools and extra fuel.
HAVAL H9, the flagship model, a seven-seater 4WD is priced at R599 900. The 2.0T high power petrol engine provides 180kww/5500/rpm; more than enough power for off-road driving, while the All - Terrain Control System (ATS) assists in handling different terrain.
The H9 has a standard equipment list that goes on and on. The features include heated and cooled front seats with a back massage function, extended sunroof, heated steering wheel, Infinity audio, three-zone air, heated middle-row seats, power-operated rear seats, and eight-inch touchscreen infotainment.
Rather than being little sister to its big brother, the H6C stands in a class of its own. The engine delivers 105 Kw at 5600 rpm, from 2200 to 4500 rpm and a six speed manual transmission. Priced at R329 900 the HAVAL H6C is standing its ground against other SUVs, for reasons beyond affordability.
The H2, a lighter SUV, offers plenty of leg room, comfort and standard features. With hill-descent control it took the uneven landscape of Sodwana Bay in its motoring stride before the HAVAL adventurers reached Durban on 24 September, the end of the first leg.
But get this; the HAVAL motoring journey is always special, regardless of the destination or reason for the drive.