Takes river beds in stride

Bruce Fraser and Mabuyane Kekana

People always look for variety in everything. The South African car menu is as exciting as ever.

There is variety in the SUVs, the saloon, the MPVs.

General Motors SA has noticed the gap in the seven-seater market, where the Opel Zafira is competing.

GMSA saw the need to throw in another of its creations, the Chevrolet Captiva.

You must have seen the billboards. The slogan goes like "play nice". So, we opted to play nice with the Captiva.

Chevrolet is making quite an impression on the motoring scene after less than four years since it returned to Msanzi.

Following the launch of the Chevy Captiva last month, Road Rave was invited to test the vehicle in what has become renowned as one of the toughest playgrounds for off-road motoring enthusiasts - the Roof of Africa in Lesotho.

The route - from Thaba-Tseka to Sani Pass - is a thorough test on both vehicle and passenger.

Just over 200km long, you take in some of the most amazing scenery as you drive, wind and crawl the eight long hours it takes to reach the Sani Pass.

In between, the vehicle is put through a thorough workout - and one in which the Captiva scored highly - as it battles altitude in excess of 3000 metres.

The automatic gearbox was ideal for the conditions and the Hill Descent Control invaluable on the extreme slopes. Limiting the speed to a maximum of 7kmh, the vehicle basically drives and brakes itself as it evaluates the conditions.

Ground clearance also proved adequate and not once did we get stuck or bogged down in one of the many river beds we crossed. The Captiva is a seven-seater, that counts for something. It means there is no excuse to leave other family members behind.

Sheer drops inches away from the edge of the road ensured maximum concentration throughout the course of the drive, as one mistake could prove fatal in the remote beauty of the Moteng Pass.

Glimpses of frozen ice on the side of roads gives an indication of how cold the area can be. Fortunately, at this time of year most of it had melted away, but still we were wary of slippery conditions.

The 168kW 3,2-litre V6 engine proved an able workhorse if not slightly thirsty.

Travelling from Sandton to Fouriesburg, which is where we crossed over into Lesotho, swallowed a tank of gas and covered approximately 400kms.

The only casualty from a convoy of twelve vehicles carrying four passengers each was one flat tyre which was admirable considering the conditions the vehicles were subjected to.

For R244300, you can get the base model Captiva FWD 2,4 LT.

Top-of-the-range AWD 3,2 V6 LTZ automatic comes at R329900.