Haval Jolion vs Hyundai Kona 2021 Comparison

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So with the Chinese built Haval being a more affordable option than its competitors, is it more than just better in the price stakes?
And the Hyundai Kona has been a much loved favourite for Aussie buyers so is this upgrade worth its weight?
And with both of these small SUVs competing against the likes of Mazda’s CX-3 and Honda‚Äôs HR-V, which will win out in this comparison?
Here’s what Car Sales had to say in their review:


This is going to be a cracker jack contest over here we have our reigning small SUV champion the Hyundai Kona and this is the Haval Jolion, one of the best Chinese cars we’ve driven to date. We know the Koreans build fine cars but this is a battle that will show us how far the Chinese have come. So is the Jolion good enough to topple the champ? Let’s find out.

Both vehicles are front-wheel drive, top spec model grades jam-packed with all the latest features and technology. The Hyundai Kona has been around since 2017 but was recently face lifted and gained plenty of new tech. The Haval Jolion is brand spanking new and has gained a lot of attention for its low cost and high equipment levels. Indeed the Chinese newcomer is almost ten thousand dollars cheaper to get rolling on the road.

What I love about the Hyundai’s look is its originality it’s just so different to everything else out there and those futuristic split level headlights are hard to ignore. The two-tone colour scheme and contrasting black roof looks pretty cool. Trendy 18-inch alloy wheels are surrounded by rugged black wheel arch protection and the back end has a sporty look, thanks to a roof spoiler and split led tail lights. In contrast to all those curves the hammer favours sharper lines and angles. This square jawed front end is imposing, punctuated by these slimline all led headlights.

It also rides on 18-inch alloy wheels and while it has a more conventional SUV look than the Hyundai, it’s still got plenty of modern design cues, such as T-shaped led brake lights.

The Hyundai is powered by a 2 litre petrol engine and while the Haval has a smaller 1.5 litre petrol engine, it’s turbocharged and delivers more torque or thrust as a result. The Hyundai hooks up to an automatic continuously variable transmission, or CVT, which favours efficiency while the Haval has a sportier seven speed dual clutch auto transmission.

Okey dokey, let’s start with the Hyundai, which has a fairly conventional cabin layout, but there are two things that instantly catch the eye. The new digital instrument cluster and this large central touchscreen. Seat comfort is very good, I like the leather pointed upholstery and you get power adjustability for both driver and front passenger, as well as heated and cooled seats, which is impressive. There’s tilt and reach steering wheel adjustability plus the wheel is heated, which is a bonus. Material quality is very good too, with only a few cheap plastics here and there. The 10.25 inch digital instrument cluster is really cool, it’s got sharp clear visuals, there’s plenty of customisability and the trip computer is really easy to use. Bang through these buttons, Bob’s your uncle, plus there’s a really nice head-up display system as well. And I like the central touchscreen too, also 10.25 inches. It has wide Android Auto and Apple Carplay compatibility and also has its own satellite navigation setup.

The native menu system is really easy to use as is pairing your phone and I like the fact you’ve got hard buttons for things like the satellite navigation, and while there’s only one USB port it’s not a deal breaker because you do have wireless phone charging as well. The heating and cooling controls look boring but work well with one touch fan and temperature controls on offer. Incidental storage is pretty good, you’ve got bottle holders in the door pockets, two cup holders one large one small an area for your mobile phone plus sunglasses holder and a medium sized central bin.

The Haval has a completely different vibe with this ultra minimal design giving it a futuristic look and feel. I mean take a squeeze at that gear selector. Pretty cool!

While it has a smaller digital instrument cluster than the Hyundai, the central touchscreen is an absolute whopper, dominating the cabin. It’s a bigger vehicle and roomier in here than the Hyundai but seat comfort and support are not as good, and this fake leather upholstery is a bit cheap. The seats are heated but not cooled, only the driver gets a power adjustable seat and there’s no heated steering wheel either. And how’s this the steering wheel only adjusts for tilt not reach, which is not ideal for drivers with longer legs. The steering wheel controls aren’t as easy to use either and the 7-inch instrument cluster readouts are not as legible, however there are three different themes, and the head-up display projected onto the windscreen creates a cleaner overall look. Fit and finish is better than expected but there’s more hard plastic surfaces here, and it just doesn’t have the quality feel of the Hyundai.

However when it comes to tech the Chinese outdoes the Korean. The bigger 12.3 inch central touchscreen looks better, has more real estate and has sharper visuals too. The native menu system has more customisation but it isn’t as user friendly as its rival, with a less intuitive interface. Wired Apple Carplay and Android Auto are supported too.

The on-screen heating and cooling controls look super sleek and feature dual zone climate control, unlike the Hyundai’s single zone system. But the buttons can be hard to see and there’s no one touch access for fan speed or temperature, you’ve got to drill down into several menus to access these options. I also found myself unintentionally triggering the climate controls via the touch sensitive buttons when using the touchscreen.

Incidental storage in the Haval is better, chiefly because of this storage area under here, which is able to swallow large items, and then you’ve got all the same options as the Hyundai, including the door pockets here, the sunglasses holder, you’ve got the mobile phone holder, a slightly larger central bin and concealed cup holders as well. It’s got two USB ports underneath the floating console but the one required for Apple Carplay and Android Auto is tucked away on the wrong side for the driver, which is a bit annoying. But you do get a wireless phone charger and there’s a third USB port for a dash cam as well.

Both cars are fully loaded with all the major safety systems, including autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. Only the Hyundai gets active high beam headlights which automatically dip the high beams when it senses another car. But the Haval pulls ahead slightly with active traffic sign recognition, an extra front centre airbag and more adjustability for the semi-autonomous driver assistance systems.

The Hyundai Kona is not a massive vehicle but there is ample room back here for two adults. Headroom is pretty good legroom is average. Amenities are so-so with just one USB port, a fold out armrest with cupholders but no air vents. However you do get heated rear seats and twin ISOFIX anchorages are included.

The Haval offers significantly more space back here. I’ve got loads more room ,there’s more width however headroom is about the same, and that’s because of the mechanism for the glass roof back here. But i will say this, the seats are a bit flatter and not as comfortable as in the Hyundai.

It gets twin USB ports a fold-out armrest and two ISOFIX anchorages like its rival, but it adds air vents, led reading lights and a massive glass roof. Boot space is much better in the bigger Haval but, when you fold the seats down in both, cargo space is more closely matched.

Both come with shopping bag hooks and small lights, and both have a space-saver spare tyre, but neither has a powered tailgate.

Alright let’s see how these puppies drive time to cue the jazzy music.

From the moment you get in fire it up and cruise away the Hyundai feels safe and solid. It’s a smooth operator too, easy to drive thanks to well-weighted and engaging steering, and feels nicely tight to the road. The engine is not the most advanced donk in its class but it provides pretty good zip at low speeds, and, you know what, it’s actually not bad at higher speeds either, which is a bit of a surprise. The automatic transmission is unexpectedly engaging. I never thought I’d say that about a CVT but yeah it’s responsive, it’s smart and it complements the engine for power delivery. In terms of driving dynamics the Kona delivers an impressive balance between ride and handling.

It feels super confident and sure-footed in all situations, thanks to its unique Australian tuned suspension setup. As well as responsive steering and a tenacious character that makes it fun to drive, ride comfort is pretty good too, absorbing small and large bumps with ease. Refinement levels are pretty good, it’s fairly quiet in the cabin when cruising but, the engine does get a little noisy when you ring its neck. The view out the front window of the SUV is good and despite the small rear window, rearward vision is fine.

The first thing I’ve noticed in the Haval straight away is its extra length and width. It’s a bigger car and it takes up more room on the road, however, the really light steering does make it fairly easy to control.

On paper the turbo engine has more muscle but on the road it feels slower and less responsive. This is due to both turbo lag and gearbox calibration. Because the dual clutch transmission is slow to respond, it makes the car feel sluggish. Sure it delivers smooth shifts but it doesn’t have the response of other dual clutch gearboxes available. It handles predictably enough but it doesn’t have the balance and the confidence of the Hyundai. For example, on roundabouts it just doesn’t quite feel as tight to the road as the other car.

Ride comfort is fine at low speeds, absorbing most of what urban Aussie roads can throw at it, but it can feel busy and get jostled around on country roads at higher speeds. Refinement levels are adequate but it can’t match the Hyundai. Build quality is not as good, it’s not as quiet in the cabin and it just doesn’t feel quite as resolved as the Hyundai. While the windows on the Haval a lot more upright the thicker a pillars obscure vision slightly, but overall visibility is very similar between the two.

While the Hyundai has a bigger engine it proved to be consistently more economical across a range of different driving conditions, during our testing. While both cars are exceptionally easy to operate, the Hyundai offers a far better drive experience. It’s locally tuned suspension creating a tailored solution for Aussie conditions just feels more stable and self-assured than the Haval.

The Hyundai is easy to park thanks to its compact dimensions and while there are some pretty chunky blind spots back there, front and rear parking sensors help compensate. Thankfully the rear facing camera has clear visuals so you know how close you can get to objects. Despite being a bigger vehicle the Haval is just as easy to park and comes with the added bonus of a 360 degree parking system. Together with an even sharper reversing camera than the Hyundai, it even gets the awesome 3D angles you can flick between.

When it comes to cost of ownership the Haval has a stronger seven year warranty but the Kona offers up to 10 years free roadside assist, if you serve it with Hyundai. I knew this was going to be a hum dinger of a battle and the result is closer than a barber shop shave.

The Haval delivers excellent bang for your buck, with impressive technology and loads of interior space. It’s the kind of SUV that families will not outgrow and has huge showroom appeal for buyers on a budget. But in the end the Hyundai takes the win, and sure it might be almost ten thousand dollars more expensive to get on the road but it’s money well spent. The car has more presence, it’s more engaging and at the end of the day, it’s simply a higher quality vehicle in almost every respect.

Thanks so much for watching we hope you enjoyed that!


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