I FLEW to Pampanga to test a number of Chinese cars carrying the Haima brand. Haima is a Chinese car company that used to be the partners of Mazda Japan. They used to manufacture Mazda cars for the Chinese market for 15 years. Some years ago the partnership ended and Haima started building their own cars. Previous generations were largely Mazda based and now their cars are engineered by themselves, in-house. The names of their cars are still patterned after Mazda. For testing was the Haima 2, M3 and 7.
The Haima 2 is a sub compact car that is in the same class as the Kia Picanto, Hyundai i10 and Honda Jazz. Since it was a Chinese car, I did not expect much, because all the Chinese cars I have tried were not good. They let me try the automatic transmission Haima 2 first, and immediately I did not like the transmission. Apparently, they copied the automatic transmission technology of the Smart car built by Mercedes Benz, an automatic transmission that I don’t like because I found it sluggish in shifting gears. I was thinking to myself it is just another China made car.
They let me try the manual transmission Haima 2, and this is where I got pleasantly surprised. The car felt good and solid, a feeling that you don’t always get on a Chinese car. Power was a little bit slow below 4,000 RPM and the engine just wakes up past it. You could tell it was the variable valve timing engine doing its job by keeping the car economical at slow engine speeds and powerful at high engine speeds. Feeling comfortable with the car, I tested it in the North Luzon Express Way and drove from San Fernando, Pampanga all the way to Angeles City, and even did more testing in Clark Airbase.
On the expressway, the car was stable even at speeds of 100 kilometers per hour and beyond. We then drove on a mountain road in the Clark Airbase area to test its handling characteristics. It definitely is not a sports car, but it handled much better than I expected. The steering has adequate response, the car is stable, and there is enough grip to feel some g-force.
I was entertained by the car and actually thought that this would be a fun car to play around with by giving it some stance and installing a turbo kit to improve performance.
The car does not look bad, and I believe it can be made to have a nice mean and aggressive look by just installing nice wheels. The cabin has above-average looks complemented by comfortable seats and adequate interior space.
This car is better than I expected, especially in terms of build quality and driving confidence. My brother has a 2007 Kia Picanto, which he bought brand new then. I had the chance to drive his Picanto many times and I can confidently say that the Haima 2 is a better car than the 2007 Kia Picanto, something that I did not expect.
TRAFFIC JAM. Just recently, I got stuck in a traffic jam along Archbishop Reyes Ave. The culprit of this huge traffic jam was a very small collision in the flyover that is in the crossing of San Jose de la Montaña Ave. and Archbishop Reyes Ave.
Instead of moving their cars out of the way, it seems like the persons involved in the accident were waiting for a Citom enforcer to do a sketch of the accident. Those involved in that small collision, to me, were being very inconsiderate.
Cebu has now reached a point where the slightest road obstruction causes a major traffic jam. Something has to be done with the way road accidents are being investigated. Making a sketch by a Citom enforcer is just a too outdated.