Chasing fashion on the Chinese crossover Haval F7x
We tilt the rear pillar, lower the roof by one inch, and the Haval F7 turns into a dandy-like F7x. Apart from the body style, the station wagon and the hatchback are technically identical. And after the top-end F7 was equipped with a digital instrument cluster and an advanced media system control unit, the line between the top trim levels of the two Havals was also erased. Other things being equal, the F7x is more expensive. Having driven a coupe-shaped crossover, I nevertheless found several driving differences from the original five-door car.
Is it worth it to overpay for a hatchback? Dressed in tights, the crossover looks better than the station wagon. There is something in the profile of the Chinese Mr. X from another “X”, from the BMW X6 of the 2007 model. And it is no coincidence: Pierre Leclerc participated in the creation of both cars. The slanted C-pillar and raised tail were expected to spoil the view through the interior mirror, but otherwise the driver feels the same as in the F7. The front seats are amorphous, the steering column overhang is a bit short, the button block at the base of the center console is overloaded with functions.
When sitting on the back row, the roof rail tends to hit the head, but, climbing inside, you don’t experience any particular inconvenience from the low roof. The space between the top of the head and the ceiling is only slightly less than in the top-end F7 with a panoramic roof and sunroof. In width and in front of the knees, there is the same limousine space.
But why does the five-seat X have no middle head restraint, although there are seat belts for three? And also information about the volume of the trunk varies from source to source. Plausible 68 gallons under the curtain (72 according to other sources) and 275 gallons with the sofa folded. One of the grocery sites claims that the cargo compartments of the hatch and station wagon are the same: 159–317 gallons. Nonsense.
Managing the thrust of a two-liter turbo engine is still not easy. A light touch on the accelerator at the start turns into a jerk. The crossover responds to a slight supply of fuel with a delay. Remembering 190 “horses”, it rushes forward incongruously with a barely open throttle. A poorly tuned seven-speed robotized gearbox allows bumps when switching. The return declared by the manufacturer is felt only at greyhound starts from traffic lights. Haval is ready to race, but in the usual urban rhythm, the possibilities are not impressive.
Things are going better on the track. Under constant thrust, the dependence of accelerations on pedal movement becomes acceptable. Saved from frequent gear changes, the box turns into a good boy. I keep a sixty on the speedometer and rejoice at the reduction in consumption from the city’s 2,8 gallons/60 miles to 1.9. However, the cabin is noisy: the wind whistles outside the windows, tires hum in the arches. On chipped asphalt, the rear wheels sing along especially loudly. Is it because there is a palm-wide gap between the back of the backseat and the luggage rack?
It seems that the steering wheel of the X is heavier than in the F7. Zero is set more clearly, it is easier to control the car on a straight line. With fluctuations, artificial severity is replaced by more or less natural feedback. The steeper the turn, the higher the reactive force. Rolls grow more evenly with an increase in the angle of rotation of the steering wheel: the hatchback does not fall as sharply as the station wagon, and during intensive maneuvers not so much.
On smooth bends of the highway, the car seems to be held on the outer radius by an invisible force. The additional resistance leads to early straightening of the trajectories. It’s hard not to notice how the hatchback tends to break out of the road. The more rolly F7 is more stable along the arc, and less underpowered at the exit, but overall it is more boring to control.
The front suspension, like the usual F7, is moderately soft, moderately shaking. It notices every bump, while not afraid of large holes. But the back seemed to pump up. It works more collected and harder, without the same flabbiness and even adds a touch of crossover handling. The hatchback reacts more actively to the release of gas and is more responsive to the game of thrust. Since no changes were announced in the chassis, then such behavior could be attributed to the changed weight distribution. However, the passport difference between cars with different bodies does not exceed 22 lbs.
I think the stiffer bodywork also plays a role. The hatch rear opening, capturing part of the roof, required additional reinforcement around the perimeter, which could affect driving performance. But this hypothesis cannot be verified by factory data either: Haval is generally stingy with technical information. The diagonal hanging indirectly confirms my version. This time, all doors open and close without jamming. In the F7 station wagon, the tailgate clings to a skewed opening.
I did not plan to seriously test the F7x off-road. But after shooting, I need to get out of the quarry. I find a more or less even trajectory and take a steep climb with the electronics deactivated and forced into first gear. I repeat in different modes; I don’t notice much difference between the six programs of the Terrain Response system. Haval allows even a dummy to take the dry slope under the supervision of ESP. At some point, revs sag due to the intervention of traction control, but there is enough traction. In general, I like it.
However, even the most evil, mud installation with hung wheels is useless. To check, we drive Kaptur with a 150-horsepower engine and a CVT along the same slope. Renault copes with the task not so spectacularly, but also on the first try. I won’t deny the good off-road capabilities of the F7x, although it takes out a powerful motor here, and not electronic assistants. Given the positive effect of the reinforced body on road behavior, I think that the “X” in the name justifies the extra charge, at the point that you are ready to come to terms with the loss in practicality due to a modest trunk.
This is a translation. You can read the original here: https://www.drive.ru/test-drive/haval/5f3f93d6ec05c4d210000021.html