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4X4 ADVENTURE: famous passes in Ford Everests with Goodyear EfficientGrip 2 tyres

Published Dec 25, 2021

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Cape Town – Driving famous passes, whether dirt or tar, never grows old and is a constant reminder of how special and beautiful our country and people are. And if you get to do it in comfort behind the wheel in and around the Western Cape in a Ford Everest Sport or Limited fitted with Goodyear’s new EfficientGrip 2 tyres, it gets even better.

Which is what we did recently covering, 1 300km behind the wheel of the very capable and comfortable four-wheel drive Everest, but not before stopping at Wijnland Auto Museum just off the N1, where Les Boshoff makes magic with old cars.

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It’s a smorgasbord that will have anyone interested in anything with an engine kept busy for hours. Boshoff is renowned for his talent to build dated cars for films, so you’ll find anything from a 1950s American police car to a pink Cadillac or a Citroen DS4 convertible built specifically for the big screen.

But we had kilometres to cover and lunch to eat in Matjiesfontein. Driving along the N1 we had the opportunity to reflect on the Ford Everest, because we have spent a fair amount of time in it since it was launched.

It’s a damn good SUV and in Sport guise with 20-inch wheels looks pretty good too. The interior is neat and modern with soft touch surfaces, easy to reach switchgear, comfortable driving position, enough nooks and crannies to store things and a Sync3 infotainment system that’s easy to use, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.

The kitchen staff did a great job despite Eskom’s best efforts and I would advise anyone travelling along the N1 to do a sho’t left and visit the quaint historical town that also played an important role during the Anglo Boer war.

The Karoo has been blessed with good rain, including while we were driving on our way to Rooiberg Lodge via the Rooiberg pass.

But the tarred Huisrivier pass into Calitzdorp beckoned first.

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It’s a lovely stretch of road with some gentle curves and sharp bends that would properly test the Everest’s and the tyres’ ability.

Initially my driving partner thought we might have been pushing the limits a bit, but the big ladder frame vehicle handled it with aplomb as we gunned into and out of corners with a big smile and very little body roll, both of us agreeing that in the big SUV segment there’s not much to beat it.

In part it has to do with the suspension set-up that was recently tweaked and also the Goodyears that have a lower compound stiffness and increased number of gripping edges to facilitate the removal of water. They also have a four percent shorter wet braking distance over the previous generation and a 25 percent mileage improvement.

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Onto the Rooiberg pass… with my driving partner behind the wheel who thought it would be entertaining for some payback after the tar shenanigans.

I needn’t have worried, the four-wheel drive system and electronic aides kept things under control over loose stones and some serious corrugations when the back occasionally swayed out.

Out of the pass the next morning for lunch and reportedly the best milkshakes in the world at the delightfully eclectic Diesel & Crème on the R62 in Barrydale.

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Gysmanshoek Pass before heading to Montagu isn’t often driven, but it’s a wonderland of Proteas that stretches as far as the eye can see. And if you do drive it be careful, this is serious puff adder territory.

On the way to Montagu we decided to see if the 2.0-litre twin turbo Limited was able to outrun the Sport’s single turbo. The Limited pulled away faster but couldn’t get a significant lead with the Sport keeping up on every corner and straight, making it a fantastic option in the range.

Kudos to the EfficientGrip 2 too for keeping us firmly planted on the black stuff.

Montagu Country Hotel is the country’s only art deco hotel and it’s brilliantly done. From the red Cadillac parked outside in the road, the reception, staircase and rooms you can easily transport yourself back to a bygone era.

A tour through the town on a bicycle with Marchelle van Zyl, who brings her own personality into telling the history of Montagu, is a must for any visitor as is a gentleman’s garage filled with the world’s biggest collection of model car Ferraris, resplendent with the famous prancing horse on a flag outside his property.

An early start to get to Sutherland, famous for its cold weather and telescopes, with another sweeping tar road to get there that allowed us to give the vehicles and tyres another decent test.

Eskom was up to its usual inefficiencies that put the staff at the newly built Boorgat under enormous pressure to bring the food out quick enough, because we had a flight to catch and almost 400km to drive, including Ouberg Pass and the Tankwa Karoo.

The Ouberg Pass descends into the 200 million year old Tankwa Karoo Basin, with spectacular views and some real 4x4 driving with rocks and ruts all the way down to keep you focused with neither the Everest nor the Goodyears flinching.

The R355 between Ceres and Calvinia is the longest stretch of dirt road in South Africa, allowing us to push the boundaries of the vehicle until the tyre monitor system showed the front-left wheel losing pressure fast, which meant that our chances of making the flight on time was dissipating as quick as the air out the tyre.

A sharp stone had punctured the sidewall, which was the only glitch we had, with the six vehicles fitted with essentially road tyres.

Not bad at all and trust me I’ve fixed more punctures next to dirt roads with serious 4x4 tyres than I care to remember.

As we cruised towards Cape Town and with flights changed to early the next morning, we had a chance again to reflect on how magnificent our country is and how privileged we are to have seen and experienced much of it this time round in the very comfortable Everest, shod with some decent rubber on each corner.

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