Happy campers

We’re so used to see­ing car­a­vans and trail­ers hitched be­hind bakkies, but SUVs and MPVs are vi­able op­tions too.

Go! Camp & Drive - - My Wheels -

Big­ger is bet­ter

2014 NISSAN PATHFINDER 2.5DCI You need some­thing bulky enough to feel sub­stan­tial in front of a big caravan, says Benji Koorts from Pre­to­ria.

I used to tow my 2003 Sprite Swing with a 2009 Nissan X-Trail 2.0 petrol for about six years, but its phys­i­cal size and that of the en­gine al­ways felt a lit­tle too small for the caravan. So, af­ter look­ing around a bit for a re­place­ment and even look­ing at Ford’s 2.2 Ranger dou­ble cab, I set­tled on a used Nissan Pathfinder for R299 000, a year ago. My re­quire­ments for a tow­ing ve­hi­cle are sim­ple. It needs to have enough power and weight to tow com­fort­ably. The Pathfinder has it all in abun­dance, with 140 kW and 450 Nm of torque, and it tips the scales at around 2t so the Sprint doesn’t shove it about in cross­winds. It an­noys me that man­u­fac­tur­ers are putting more and more small­ca­pac­ity diesel en­gines in cars and then mar­ket­ing them as tow­ing ve­hi­cles, when that’s just not the case. I gen­er­ally tow at a rea­son­able 110 km/h, but I some­times catch my­self at around 120 km/h and the Pathfinder is quite a ca­pa­ble tow­ing ve­hi­cle at this speed. When the Sprite’s not hitched to the stan­dard tow bar the Nissan av­er­ages around 8 ℓ/100 km, and that fig­ure goes up to around 9 ℓ/100 km dur­ing tow­ing. I’m very fond of TO Strand Hol­i­day Re­sort, but my wife thinks I’m in de­nial and that I’m ac­tu­ally a closet Scot­tburgh Caravan Park sup­porter. Any­way, they’re both on the beau­ti­ful KwaZulu-Natal coast, and have all the at­trac­tions you could ex­pect.

Peo­ple mover

2012 VOLK­SWA­GEN CADDY 2.0 TDI DSG All you need for tow­ing is a tur­bod­iesel en­gine and dual-clutch trans­mis­sion. Just ask Jo­han Peens from Modi­molle, who hooks his caravan up to a Volk­swa­gen Caddy.

I’ve been driv­ing this com­bi­na­tion for four years now. Af­ter pur­chas­ing this Volk­swa­gen Caddy 2.0 TDI off the show­room floor for R308 000 in 2012 (with Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity and cruise con­trol thrown into the deal as well), we bought a brand-new Sprite Sprint in 2014 for R136 000. There’s no sta­biliser needed for the com­bi­na­tion, be­cause the Sprite stays put be­hind the Caddy and doesn’t sway. I keep the tow­ing speed to a safe 100 km/h. The com­bi­na­tion of this en­gine and six-speed dual-clutch trans­mis­sion is par­tic­u­larly suit­able for tow­ing be­cause when tow­ing, the fuel con­sump­tion rarely ex­ceeds 11 ℓ/100 km. When not tow­ing, the Caddy sips diesel at an av­er­age of 6,8 ℓ/100 km. The Caddy is very spa­cious, seat­ing seven adults in com­fort. The third row of seats can also eas­ily be re­moved to pro­vide more space for lug­gage. Driv­ing this ve­hi­cle is ef­fort­less be­cause the DSG does so much for you. For ex­am­ple, when tow­ing down­hill the trans­mis­sion au­to­mat­i­cally holds the third gear and en­gine-brakes the com­bi­na­tion. We’re es­pe­cially fond of vis­it­ing ATKV Ei­land Spa be­cause it’s re­ally not that far from home – just over 300 km. The weather is al­ways pleas­ant be­cause it’s warm there in win­ter, and the re­sort’s fa­cil­i­ties are main­tained to the high­est stan­dard.

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