No, the Chinese SUV giant didn't make a trip to Japan; "The place of the Rising Sun" is the name of one of South Africa's most beautiful provinces, Mpumalanga, the setting for the 2019 Haval Outreach Expedition. The name means just that in Swazi, Zulu, Tsonga and Southern Ndebele, the place where the sun rises.
The 2019 expedition started off in Johannesburg where two Haval H9's, two Haval H6C's, the all new Haval H6 1.5 Turbo Luxury and a GWM Steed 5E Double Cab bakkie made the trip up to Nelspruit to meet up with Sa motoring journalists from around the country to start the first leg of the expedition. Meeting media at the quant and bush lodge like terminal building that is the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport were the team of Havals and GWM ready to accept the eager press into their luxurious interiors for a few days of glorious driving and amazing scenery.
Once acquainted and with the vehicles packed and ready, the group headed to Haval Mbombela for a small get together with staff and clients of the busy Haval dealership in the capital of Mpumalanga. Haval Mbombela opened its doors in March of this year and in their first month of trading moved a phenomenal 10 vehicles under the guidance and leadership of Dealer Principal Johan Pretorius. Festivities at the opening started with the usual gratitude and thanks paid to guests, the staff and most importantly the customers present on the day. Two deliveries were made during the proceedings and two new smiling faces were added to the ever growing family of Haval owners. After the last car was handed over and greetings were made, the caravan of cars headed to Sabi River Valley for a stopover at the Sabi River Sun.
Day two of the expedition was an out and out driving day with each and every press member getting to drive the group of vehicles along a 111km route starting off at the hotel and making its way along curving roads up towards Graskop and then heading towards Sabie. From Sabie the route went down the infamous "22", a stretch of road known by this to the locals as 22 kilometres of the best twists and turns through forest roads the country has to offer. The driving pleasure the Haval range has to offer was plain to see and the journalists' feedback and comments nothing short of extremely positive. Here are some of their insights and more in-depth content can be read in their respective publications or on their websites.
Ciara Durand from Woman on Wheels had this to say after the day's driving: "I was super excited to be able to join Haval's Outreach Expedition again this year! You don't often get the chance to experience a car brand's products in such a unique way, in incredibly exciting and remote locations, while getting to know the family behind this growing name brand. The H9 luxury 7-seater still impresses me with its generous amount of space (even for adults in the third row) while its off road capabilities really need to be experienced first-hand in order to be truly appreciated. The H6 (which is the newly released luxury derivative) and our top-pick H6C have been lively to drive, impressive on the twists and turns over mountain passes and comfortable on the highways."
Jarryd Neves from Car Magazine was concise in his approach and was quoted in saying "The Haval H9, H6 and H6C SUV's were a good fit for Mpumalanga's beautiful roads and scenery, I just can't get enough of this range of vehicles".
Miquette Classen, Road Trip Magazine said "The Haval models we tested on the Outreach are definitely going to surprise many future owners. They compete well with the expected opposition brands in terms of stability, handling, manoeuvrability and safety - but far out perform them with what would be optional extras and especially added safety features that appear as standard fitment on the Haval range. The Haval Outreach Panoramic Experience perfectly proved why cars like these are so good to own. They carry you to the places where the memories that get inked into your book of life are made. What I take away is a lasting endearment to the brand who put 'living' before 'having' - and I will forever smile, or possibly break out in laughter, upon seeing a Haval and recalling the moments that made this experience an Experience with a very well deserved capital 'E'.
Martin Pretorius from Autotrader added, "The Haval H6, H6C and H9 have all proved themselves to be excellent road trip companions. Even though the H6 has the smallest engine of this group, it easily kept up with its more-powerful brothers, and turned out to be secure, planted and comfortable over winding roads. Its 'revvy' engine and slick manual gearbox added a healthy measure of fun and driving involvement, while its cavernous boot swallowed a big pile of luggage. The H6C is more stylish and sophisticated all round, while its added power and smooth dual-clutch gearbox gave it a nice turn of speed - no wonder it's such a strong performer in the sales race. Meanwhile, the H9 pampered with its plush cabin and luxury features, and its smooth ride and clever AWD system helped it carry speed over often challenging terrain. Even the GWM Steed support vehicle impressed on this trip, carrying everything from a film crew, medical kit and catering paraphernalia economically and without any protest. These vehicles are all highly adept at taking on the scenic Mpumalanga roads, soaking up bumps and turns without raising any sweat, allowing us to enjoy the spectacular natural beauty without demanding any effort. Thank you to Haval SA for allowing us to experience their capable vehicles in such an amazing setting!"
Day three was more laid back and the tourist element took over as the group headed into the heart of the Panorama Route starting off with a visit to Pinnacle Rock, a massive quartzite rock that erupts some 30 meters in height. A freestanding rock that towers over the dense indigenous forest in the valley below Pinnacle Rock is a site to behold. The group moved on to the escarpment edge to the world famous landmark known as Gods Window followed by a stop at the Lisbon and then a visit to the awe-inspiring spectacle that is the Blyde River canyon for another overnight stop. The final day of the first leg of the Outreach Expedition was a leisure day featuring bridge swings and bungee jumps for the brave and for the not so brave a lift ride to the bottom of the Graskop gorge with a meander through the natural forest at the bottom. The 2019 Haval Outreach Expedition is half way to the final destination and more will be shared in the coming days.