Pick the SUV that is right for you and your pocket, from the af­ford­able Cherry Tiggo, shown here, to the strong­est Merc.

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE -

Be hon­est, you don’t RE­ALLY need an SUV, you just want the look. Com­mon sense dic­tates ei­ther the Re­nault San­dero Step­way ( above) or the Toy­ota Etios Cross ( be­low). Both are high- rid­ing hatch­backs that can use their front wheel drives to pull well over most dirt roads, if you ever go there. Deal­ers will eas­ily match prices at just over R180k and both have about the same power un­der the hood. But the Pre­to­ria- built Step­way has 193 mm road clear­ance to the 155 mm un­der the Cross and Re­nault of­fers a longer war­ranty — five years or 150 000 km to Toy­ota’s three years or 100 000 km. The In­dia- built Etios does have the bet­ter looks with all that pro­tec­tive Tup­per­ware though … PHOTOS: QUIKCPIC The 1,6 Cherry Tiggo is the most af­ford­able dirt rider in SA to­day. I have to date done 12 moun­tain passes in one day in Mpumalanga as well as tra­versed the West Coast’s worst dirt roads in the wet in a Tiggo and I re­main de­lighted at how it comes into its own over the rough stuff. The war­ranty is an good five years or 120 000 km, with a ser­vice plan of three years or 75 000 km. Count­ing against the Tiggo is how you need to get the rev nee­dle to about 5 000 to feel the 93 kW and 160 Nm from the 1 598 cc when loaded, hence I rec­om­mend the Tiggo only for a road trip­pingpp g cou­plep on a bud­get.g PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJJOEN The 470 Nm Ever­est can pull a braked- trailer weight of three tons, in the­ory. In prac­tice, once you sub­tract the Gross Ve­hi­cle Mass ( which is the weight of ev­ery­one in­side, their lug­gage, the weight of the trailer and a full tank of fuel) from the Gross Com­bined Mass, ( which is the max­i­mum your ve­hi­cle and trailer can weigh on the road), those three tons may shrink by some 500 kg. Still, over 2,5 tons is a lot of lug­gage and for R634 900 the Ever­est 4x4 XLT comes with ev­ery driv­ing aid known to man, in­clud­ing a trailer sta­biliser and re­verse cam­eras. All comes with the fac­tory in Pre­to­ria’s war­ranty for four years, or 120 000 km and main­tained for five years, or 100 000 km. As bonus, we can still rec­om­mend the old Ever­est. The SAPS Rapid Re­sponse Unit tell me they can’t break them, which should tell you all you need to know, re­ally. PHOTO: QUICKPIC The new For­tuner is not the strong­est en­gine, but it is sold at over 200 deal­ers in south­ern Africa, which clinches the deal for more sales than any other SUV in SA. The 2,4 en­gine hits the sweet spot with its 110 kW and 400 Nm, but get the sixspeed man­ual. Yes the auto has as many ra­tios, will spare the clutch and costs R7k less, but the en­gine is de­tuned to only 245 Nm, which is not nearly good enough. Also count­ing against the For­tuner is its short war­ranty — three years com­pared to the Ever­est’s four and Cap­tiva’s five — and a ser­vice plan dis­tance that is 10 000 km shorter than Ford’s 100 000, but then Toy­ota is ask­ing a lot less for its KZN- built ute and its spares. PHOTO: QUICKPIC Mahin­dra’s de­sign­ers say the XUV 500’ s fog lights are shaped like the dark tear ducts of a leop­ard and those rear wheel arches sug­gest the haunches of the cat about to pounce. I used the seven- seater to lug chil­dren all over the Mid­lands’ steep­est hills and quickly took to us­ing the au­to­matic hill de­scent con­trol every­where. Up­hill the vari­able van turbo makes 320 Nm from 1 600 rpm with zero turbo lag, dads also fit into the third row of seats and don’t tell any­one, but this ute is so planted, it can do hand­brake turns on dirt too. Add a gen­er­ous five- year or 150 000 km war­ranty and main­te­nance plan, plus stan­dard ex­tras like re­verse cam­era and a small fridge in the el­bow rest, and you un­der­stand why those in the know are buy­ing this all- wheel- drive In­jun for un­der R375k. The only thing count­ing against the XUV500 is the scarcity of deal­ers. But if there is one near you, do go for a test drive. PHOTO: MAHIN­DRA Here’s the shocker, at about R620k the Mercedes- Benz GLC 250d is both cheaper and stronger than the Ford Ever­est. OK, so it’s a re­ally a soft roader made for snow and sand, but if those are the worst sur­faces you plan to drive over, Merc’s qui­etly rum­bling diesel makes 500 New­tons at 1 600 rpm — ideal to keep the tyres turn­ing when you are driv­ing over Namib dunes — as we did — while the work rate of 150 kW will keep the cruise con­trol where you set it over the long, bor­ing roads to­wards those dunes. All mod­els are cov­ered by a six- year or 100 000 km Pre­mium Drive main­te­nance plan. The draw­back is the lat­est consumer sur­veys show you may be call­ing on that war­ranty of­ten, as the nine- speed auto and sound sys­tem do not al­ways live up to Merc’s rep­u­ta­tion of re­li­a­bil­ity on the long run. PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN Our rec­om­mended fam­ily lug­gers on the left are ( clock­wise from the top) the Nis­san Xtrail, Hyundai Tuc­son, Mazda CX5 and Chevrolet Cap­tiva. The Xtrail starts cheap­est at un­der R400k and has a five- year war­ranty for 90 000 km, as does the Tuc­son. The Tuc­son and CX5 are dear­est at about R500k, but come with a three- year war­ranty and 60 000 km for the Chev and un­lim­ited ki­los for the Mazda. All give a high seat, big wheels to go over pot­holes, five- star safety rat­ings and rea­son­able fuel con­sump­tion. Test drive them at the clos­est deal­ers and wran­gle for dis­counts. PHOTOS: SUP­PLIED

PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN

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