Eight Chery Tiggo SUVs successfully took on the challenge of being driven through 12 passes in Mpumalanga in eight hours. Most of the cars had motoring journalists behind the steering wheel and all the cars got through unscathed with not even a punctured tyre even though much of the terrain was rocky and rutted.
Seven of the passes were tarmac-surfaced and five were gravel, with the main traffic on the latter roads being huge logging trucks and trailers. The distance over the passes was fairly evenly split at 67.3km of surfaced roads and 65.7km of gravel roads, making a combined distance of 133 km for the 12 passes.
The route of more than 350km included many mountain passes that were sweeping tarmac roads, but then there were gravel sections that were not for sissies; surfaces were often rocky and in several places the roads were pockmarked like a moonscape. Severe damage to the roads during the rainy season caused by logging trucks also resulted in many kilometres of the route being deeply rutted with washaways, while several of the gravel roads had many cross bumps to assist with rainwater runoff, all of which put heavy loads on the Tiggo suspension systems.
These conditions made big demands on the fleet of two-wheel drive Tiggos, which handled the challenges of continually changing road surfaces with aplomb. The cars proved sure-footed while the supple suspension soaked up the uneven surfaces and the driven front wheels maintained traction even on loose surfaces. The steering had plenty of feel without giving kick back through the steering wheel when the road surface got really rough.
Meanwhile the easy-revving 1.6-litre engine matched to a slick-changing five-speed gearbox handled the climbs without fuss.
“Chery may be a comparative newcomer to the South African passenger car market, having arrived here in 2008, but it has already made an indelible mark locally in several aspects of vehicle performance, including fuel economy, ruggedness and reliability as well as being a responsible corporate citizen,” said Pedro Pereira, the Managing Director of Chery SA. “Now we can add the Tiggo’s achievement of 8 cars completing 12 passes in one day without any problems.”