Could this Red Rabbit replace the GWM Haval Jolion small SUV in Australia? - SUV VEHICLE

Could this Red Rabbit replace the GWM Haval Jolion small SUV in Australia?


This new small petrol and hybrid SUV from the Chinese car giant brings a sharp new look – and is hopping towards Australian showrooms as a potential Jolion successor.

Chinese car giant GWM could update its burgeoning Haval SUV range in Australia with a new small SUV to replace the popular Jolion – the Red Rabbit.

The Chitu – which translates to ‘red rabbit’ in Mandarin – is twinned with the Jolion under the skin, sharing a choice of petrol or hybrid power.

Given the similarities between the two vehicles – and that this indirectly replaced the Jolion in China – it is understood the Red Rabbit my replace the Jolion in Australia, even though the latter has been on sale in Australia for just three years.

When asked whether the Red Rabbit – which has been spied in transport in Australia – is a possibility for the local market, GWM Australia communications and marketing boss Steve Maciver told Drive: “Watch this space.”

When pressed on possible timing for showroom arrivals – or confirmation of the vehicle for local sale – Mr Maciver reiterated: “Watch this space, there will be news in regards to this car.”

The Haval Jolion, which is the brand’s current offering in the small SUV segment, has been on sale in Australia since 2021 after debuting at the Beijing motor show in 2020.

While it is yet to be confirmed by GWM, it is understood the similarly-sized Red Rabbit could replace the Jolion – which is only three years old in Australia – and may even pick up its name, which means ‘first love’.

Where many carmakers typically have an approximately eight-year life cycle for a car before a new generation model, GWM appears to cycle through models in about half that time. 

In China the Red Rabbit was introduced in 2021, the same year the Jolion was dropped in GWM’s home market – though the Red Rabbit/Chitu is pitched as a successor to an earlier GWM Haval SUV, the F5, which was never sold in Australia.

A 2700mm wheelbase is shared between the Red Rabbit and Jolion, and appears to use a similar derivation of GWM’s L.E.M.O.N platform.

According to GWM’s Chinese website, the Haval Red Rabbit is powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 135kW and 275Nm, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. 

This gives it a small on-paper boost in power and torque over the same 1.5-litre turbocharged engine in the current Jolion, which develops up to 130kW/270Nm locally.

The option of a 1.5-litre hybrid system looks to carry over for the Red Rabbit as well, which appears to have the same outputs as the current Jolion hybrid sold in Australia.

Sam Purcell

Sam Purcell has been writing about cars, four-wheel driving and camping since 2013, and obsessed with anything that goes brum-brum longer than he can remember. Sam joined the team at CarAdvice/Drive as the off-road Editor in 2018, after cutting his teeth at Unsealed 4X4 and Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures.

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