The first time I drove a GWM H5 was back in 2010 and to be honest, I don’t actually remember much about it. I remember that it felt like a bakkie and that a fire extinguisher was a standard feature. If I remember correctly, it was located in the passenger foot well.
We’ve just taken delivery of a new, refined H5 long-termer and I’m happy to report that the fire extinguisher has been removed. This small change inspires a lot of confidence and it serves as a reminder of how far GWM has come over the last few years.
The Chinese manufacturers had a tough time when they first arrived in sunny SA. Thanks to a few horrid products who shall remain nameless, the Chinese built cars had a reputation for being stinky, poorly built, underpowered skedonke. It was unfair to assume all of them were like this, but that’s the way it goes unfortunately.
Luckily, GWM survived through the dark days. It did so by introducing a range of pleasant vehicles in important high-volume segments.
The H5 is one of those vehicles. It competes in one of the toughest segments in SA. The last time I checked, it had around 15 competitors to deal with. That’s no easy task considering the fact that some of these competitors wear prestigious badges like Honda, Toyota and Mazda.
Fortunately for the H5, the above competitors also come with the kind of pricing you’d expect from a vehicle wearing a so-called prestigious badge. The H5 doesn’t.
The H5’s price is undoubtedly the most prominent feather in its cap. Our test unit, a 2,0-litre turbodiesel 4×4 with a manual transmission, costs just R310 000.
With a low price like that, you’d expect the effect of cost savings to be rather obvious, but I’m struggling to find any.
The interior is a lovely place to be and the ride quality is much better than I remember. GWM has also included an indecent number of standard features, which include climate control, electric windows, leather seats, touch-screen infotainment system with a DVD player, reverse park assist and steering-mounted audio controls.
The turbodiesel engine in our test mule delivers 110kW and 310Nm of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed manual transmission. It feels a bit sluggish at the moment, but it’s only done 700km and we’re expecting it to get better once the engine is properly run in.
There’s also more good news for the more serious off-roaders out there. The model we have in our possession has a low-range ratio, which we’ll be testing at the first possible opportunity.