Video: Blazing Wild Coast trails in comfort

Some vehicles are more suited to adventure motoring than others. Take modern day SUVs for example. Not only are they able to comfortably sit at the speed limit on the open road, but thanks to their gravel and off-road capabilities they can go places most sedans and hatches can only dream of.

They’re also generally well equipped and spacious making them the ideal South African family vehicle.

We’re spoilt for choice too, with prices catering for most pockets. You get entry level compact SUVs like the  Renault Duster which sell from just over R200000 to high-end premium ones like the Range Rover which can cost more than R1-million.

Trailblazer

CHEVROLET’S Trailblazer fits somewhere between with prices starting at R434900 for the  2.5D LT climbing to R569800 for the range topping 2.8D 4×4 LTZ auto.

Dispatch Motoring was recently given the latter and to prove our point used the vehicle for a trip across the Kei River to Qolora Mouth.

Space is not an issue with the Trailblazer. It’s a true seven-seater, and when not needed the two rear seats fold flat creating a large loading area which allows one to pretty much pack everything.

For our trip we took along a thermo cooler packed with cold drinks, gas stove and kettle, picnic basket, deck chairs and a large camera bag – and still had space for more.

On the road

AFTER leaving East London we headed for Kei Mouth, and found the Trailblazer offers a confidence-inducing high driving position allowing you to look down at fellow motorists. The 2.8-litre diesel engine effortlessly propelled the large bodied SUV on tar and with a smooth six-speed automatic gearbox.

Our first stop was the clifftops at Morgan Bay for an early breakfast of coffee and muffins.

The Trailblazer made light work of the potholed roads around the resort town and the badly rutted dirt road climb towards Double Mouth was negotiated with ease.

The  views from the clifftops are spectacular – if lucky you may get to see whales or dassies sunning themselves on the rocks. Just be sure to get there early enough before the wind picks up.

From the clifftops we continued to Double Mouth and after a short visit to the popular camp site, headed for the Kei Mouth ferry, or “pont” as it’s known locally.

Heeding Chris de Burgh’s words, I made sure I only paid the R70 crossing fee once we were on the Transkei side of the river.

Local hospitality

THE road from the ferry to Trennerys was mostly in a  good condition, although there were a couple of patchy areas.

Our initial plan was to stop for lunch at either Trennerys or Seagulls hotels, but instead got waylaid by the kind hospitality of  “local” PJ Smith. Smith and  husband John live in Gonubie, but own a cottage at Qolora and we were invited to stay for a bite to eat.

The kids had a ball exploring the beach, sifting through shells and other flotsam kicked up by recent wild seas, and when it came to leave I was met with every argument  why we just “had to stay bit longer”.

Verdict

THE Trailblazer made short work of the journey home and proved comfortable on both tar and gravel. Fuel consumption for the 2.8D LTZ is 11.4-litres/100km while top speed is 180km/h. The diesel power plant produces 144Kw at 3600 rpm and 500Nm torque at 2000 rpm. Standard features include ABS brakes, central locking, reverse camera, power steering and windows, climate control and an entertainment system.

The Trailblazer faces stiff competition from the likes of the Toyota Fortuner, but is highly capable. If a true seven-seater is what’s important then it is  definitely worth a look.

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