GWM H5 Diesel
I first tested a GWM H5 back in 2011 and honestly I was mighty impressed with the Chinese SUV. It’s relatively well built, comes loaded with kit and best of all its cheap – all of which are qualities I am starting to see more and more of with things ‘Made in China’.
To add to the model line-up, GWM South Africa has launched a diesel variant of the H5. Everything I so enjoyed about the H5 is still present, the reverse camera, touch screen info-tainment system, iPod connectivity, DVD and Mp3 compatibility, automatic headlights and rain sensing windscreen wipers.
The interior layout is simple, sensible and practical. There aren’t any funny little quirks, nor is there anything that will blow your mind. They’ve just aimed it right down the middle of the road. It’s spacious, as you’d expect in what is a reasonably big SUV, with plenty of room in both the front and back. I’ll admit some of the interior materials are not what you’d call premium; in fact they’re hard and scratchy which is generally seen as a bad thing. However don’t let that take your eye off the ball.
On the styling front I think they’ve taken massive strides by comparison to the now-old Hover. The front end is particularly sleek, even sporty, and without seeing the GWM badge up front I’m sure most people would never guess its manufacturer is Chinese.
Better still the diesel H5 comes in both manual and automatic. I found the five speed manual gearbox somewhat agricultural in its action and the clutch was rather heavy; in other words it was a pain when toddling along in JHB traffic.
Out on the open road of course you can just shove it in 5th and cruise along quite happily, until you come to an incline. This requires a change down to 4th or even 3rd because the 2.0 litre diesel under the hood isn’t the strongest unit I’ve ever encountered, which means using that clutch and gearbox again, which is a pain.
My recommendation, go for the auto. It’s much smoother, won’t break your left leg, nor will it leave you stirring for gears every time you’re headed up hill. Other than a slightly sluggish getaway it’s the perfect compromise.
So about that ball I said not to take your eyes off of. The H5 diesel starts at R249 990 for the manual and ends at R264 990 with the auto (4×4 versions are available too for a few extra pennies). There are no hidden costs and everything comes standard. So if you can find a better, cheaper SUV I’ll eat my hat.