Renting a car in Cuba with asian flair

renting a car in cuba

Renting a car in Cuba

For those renting a car in Cuba this winter season, Cuba has rolled out its new line of Geely vehicles for the rental fleets. Geely is a Chinese manufacturer already very popular in the homeland and know for making affordable but reliable vehicles. A couple renting a car in Cuba had the opportunity to drive the new Geely CK which has replaced part of the fleet of Hyundai Accent vehicles. They rented through Havanautos. This is their impression:

When picked up this Chinese made car, it wasn’t met with open arms. We knew we´d be renting a car in Cuba but had no idea it would be of chinese origin. Consistent with reports on the web and even on YouTube it shows clearly how poorly their cars performed in crash tests. We are thankful we saw all this after returning from Cuba…Plus, the endless criticisms they faced for copying designs although we couldn´t fathom who´s design it had been and I am quite a car guy. But, after driving it around Cuba it wasn´t bad to be in a car like the Geely CK. The “CK” stands for “Freedom Ship” and it makes no effort to pretend that it has the quality to rival Toyota or any other Japanese manufacturer. At first glance, when we saw it at the Jose Marti Airport in Havana, it certainly gave the impression that it is a lot better built than other mainstream cars from middle country. It isn’t particularly good-looking but at least the gaps in the shut-lines are comparatively more consistent.


“Renting a car in Cuba with Havanautos was great”


Open the doors and suddenly the rental price, which is the same as the Hyundai Accent we rented in Havana last spring, is a little difficult to justify. Seats… The fabric are quite course and a little hard and, there aren’t even cup holders. The bits and buttons inside have noticeable free-play as well. Overall, it is very spartan but practical. But, as I have found out since returning from Cuba, at least it has a Toyota engine inside producing 94 hp at 6,000 rpm – sufficient to set the car in motion and was pretty quiet along Cuba´s “ocho via”. Try to accelerate at any rate though and its performance is negligible. Its rear seats are thick foam cushions, just tucked in nicely – not secured. In fact, you could probably replace them with your beach inflatable if you wished. It wouldn’t be difficult. I sat like an overgrown communist at a kotatsu table in a dwarf’s hut. The seat was too high, my knee constantly knocked against the steering column every time I braked and if I sat up straight the ceiling would obstruct my glances at overhead bridges. Well, the suspension flows along nicely with speed humps and its occupants barely feel the bump and in Pinar del Rio and Santiago de Cuba we saw some “crater like” holes resembling Baghdad…If you are renting a car in Cuba then you should be aware that the roads are sometimes pretty bad.

Overall through, if you are renting a car in Cuba it is more than likely you´ll be getting one of these Geely CK models although while on our travels we also saw one called the Geely MK and then a larger one called the Emgrand.

It was easy renting a car in Cuba and we used the Havanautos official website to book, the price p/day was 42 CAD after conversion from Euros so, not bad at all. After paying online and providing our license copy in advance we were sent a voucher. We printed this and took it to Cuba. Once we arrived at the Havanautos office at the Havana airport and showed our voucher we were pretty much all set. The formalities of completing the contract were made easier apparently due to us having sent our license in advance. They´d prefilled almost everything which we found pretty slick.

We highly recommend booking with the Havanautos website and the service was excellent. We just hope they bring back the Hyundai Accents for our next trip. Well…I guess the Geely CK wasn’t that bad.


Renting a car in Cuba

Morgan and Patty Whitehouse, Oakville Ontario

Renting a car in Cuba Reviews