April 01, 2014 By Maynard M. Marcelo

2014 Haima 7 Deluxe MT

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Words and photos by Maynard M. Marcelo

Wherever I went with the Haima 7, people always asked me the same question: Who made it? When I told them that it’s made by Haima of China, they just gave me a blank stare, as if waiting for me to say I was just kidding or something. I wasn’t kidding, but it’s perfectly understandable for people not to recognize the name because unlike the more established brands from Japan and Korea, Haima is not a household name. At least not just yet. But based on people’s reactions when inspecting the Haima 7, it won’t be long before the buying public starts to notice this rising star from the east, or west, depending on where you’re geographically located.

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The Haima 7 is certainly a good-looking Compact SUV. Its styling, methinks, is somewhat inspired by the Subaru Forester, but size wise it’s as big as the Ford Escape. Which is hardly surprising because Ford shared the Escape platform with the Mazda Tribute, and as some of you may already know Haima had a technical partnership with Mazda for fifteen years. So, to conclude that the Haima 7 is based on the Mazda Tribute platform is not that farfetched. For starters, their identical 2619 mm wheelbase is a dead giveaway. Side-by-side comparison of the Haima 7 spec sheet further reveals that it shares almost the same technical specs and suspension layout as the Mazda sport-ute.

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Perhaps the best trait that the Haima 7 inherited from its Tribute and Escape brethren, if they’re in fact related, is the way it moves. Equipped with MacPherson front and multi-link rear suspension, the Haima 7 carves corners as well as its Japanese and American counterparts. Steering response is superb with good weight and on-center feel. The leather-covered steering wheel is a bit thin for my taste, though. Also, the Haima 7’s ride is a bit bouncy on uneven surfaces but the suspension copes well when running over rough roads and potholes. The 16-inch alloy wheels shod with meaty 235/70/R16 Hankook Dynapro HP tires absorb most of the secondary road  impacts while providing decent cornering grip on dry and wet road surfaces. What we don’t like so much about the Haima 7 is its brake pedal feel. It feels wooden in the first few millimeters of travel then grabs abruptly midway, making for a jerky stop sometimes. We don’t know if it’s because of the brake pad material or the brake booster but it certainly needs some getting used to, if not recalibrated. At least Haima equipped the Haima 7 with 4-wheel disc brakes and ABS (anti-lock braking system) as standard equipment.

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Unlike the Mazda Tribute that had a 2.4L inline-4 cylinder or a 3.0L V6 rampaging under the hood the Haima 7 gets by with just a dohc 16-valve 2.0L inline-4 cylinder motor that’s mated to a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission. Rated at 147.95 bhp @ 6000 rpm, it won’t set your pulse racing but the 132.74 lb. ft. @ 4500 rpm is more than enough to send the Haima 7 plus a full load of passengers and their stuff speeding up a steep hill easily. If you’re not after peak power and blazing top speeds, the 2.0L motor is enough for city driving and relaxed highway cruising. I just wish it was a bit smoother when idling because there were times when I thought I was driving a diesel. But then again, that’s probably just me nitpicking. What is remarkable about the Haima 7, however, is the way it insulates the cabin from road and engine noise. Haima obviously didn’t scrimp on sound-deadening materials with the Haima 7.

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The Haima 7 can seat five including the driver with ample head and legroom in front and at the back, and like the steering wheel the seats are covered in premium, well-stitched leather. The rear seat splits 60-40 to increase cargo space if needed. But after having spent considerable time in the newer Haima M3, I must say I was a bit disappointed with the interior treatment of the Haima 7. The dashboard, while ergonomically designed and pleasing to look at with its black and beige color combination with silver accents, has a very plastic-y looking surface and in some areas, even unfinished. Some switches and cubbyhole covers also lack the tactile feel and finesse of its Japanese and Korean counterparts when you open or close them. But at least there are plenty of them inside the Haima 7 cabin for your drinks and small items.

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Aside from some minor gripes, the Haima 7’s cabin is a generally nice place to spend time in. There are plenty of adjustments, albeit manually, for the driver seat and the steering column so finding a comfortable driving position is quite easy. All-around visibility also receives high marks with the tall greenhouse and there’s also a commanding view of the road upfront. A plus during the hot summer months was the automatic climate control system that does a pretty efficient job of cooling the interior of the Haima 7. You also get power everything and dual airbags. Audiophiles among you will be glad to have redundant audio controls on the steering wheel. We just wish the stereo system could accommodate other music formats other than CD and MP3. That won’t be a problem if you don’t have an iPod or iPhone, though.

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Overall, we’re pretty much impressed with the Haima 7’s performance. If you don’t see yourself driving around in a bare bone Asian Utility Vehicle, AUV in Philippine parlance, which are roughly in the same price range as the Haima 7, and if you can see beyond the badge or the “Made in China” stigma, then the Haima 7 presents solid value when most other compact sport utility vehicles in its class costs more than 1 million pesos. See for yourself, this could be your rising star.

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Engine: Inline-4, 1998cc, dohc, 16v, 5-Speed MT
Max Power: 147.95 bhp @ 6000 rpm
Max Torque: 132.74 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm
0-100 kM/h (0-62 Mph): 17 sec.
Top Speed (Mph): 190 km/h ( 118.06 mph)
Fuel Mileage: 8 km/L Overall
Price as Tested: PhP 889,000.00
– : Roomy interior, plenty of standard features, efficient air-conditioning system, leather seats, agile handling, good ergonomics.
+ : Plastic-y interior trim, CD and MP3 only stereo system, vibey engine at idle.
EDITOR’S RATING:8.0/10

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