A little earlier this year we took some of SA’s most popular SUVs to Botswana for a vehicle safari through the Khwai Conservancy. We’ll be posting reviews of all the vehicles that accompanied us over the next couple of weeks. You can read our travel article about the trip here, and you can find all the other vehicle articles under the “Driving Impressions” category.
The refreshed GWM H5 that was to accompany us on our trip arrived in SA mere days before we were due to ship the vehicles up to Maun for the start of our adventure. In fact, the H5 was headed for Maun almost as soon as it rolled off the boat – with barely 100km on the odometer
Manufacturers don’t usually hand over an untested vehicle to journalists. They prefer to put a few thousand kilometres on its odometer, running in the engine and checking that everything is working properly, before adding it to their test fleet. For the H5 in our Adventure Safari, this wasn’t an option. There wasn’t time to put the H5 through its paces, so it was simply loaded onto a truck and transported to Maun.
How does this new model differ from the H5 that’s been around for a while? Well, some minor changes have been made to the exterior and interior. For instance, there’s a new chromed strip at the front, and new lights at the back. The cabin sports some new trim.
The biggest news, however, is that the flagship H5 2.0 VGT manual 4×4 now has low-range gearing, which means it is more capable than ever. Unfortunately, this was not the sort of trip where low range was really needed, but it was still a good opportunity to test the H5 amidst some very capable SUVs.
“We were a bit worried about taking an untested vehicle into the middle of Botswana,” says driver Ricky Sykes, “but the H5 impressed and surprised us. It did really well.”
The H5 dealt admirably with the dust, heat and bad roads. It easily went where the other SUVs travelled.
Considering its price, the H5 is an impressively specced vehicle, which is why it is becoming increasingly popular. The range-topping 2.0 VGT manual 4×4 goes for R294 900, yet it boasts about every comfort feature you could ask for.
The engine/gearbox combination is very respectable. The surprisingly refined two-litre oilburner pushes out 110 kW of power and 310 Nm of torque. That’s not a massive amount of power, but it isn’t bad either. Moreover, the H5 has shown itself to be rugged and reliable – a far cry from early Chinese vehicles.
GWM is creating a secure place for itself in the local vehicle market, and the latest H5 will help cement that position even further.