Weekends are meant for family and fun. To find out just how much of both can be crammed into one day, Calvin Fisher stretched the tiny legs of the new Suzuki Celerio to its absolute limit with the help of his squad.
Four point two litres. That’s the amount of fuel the Suzuki Celerio’s brochure states it will consume over a hundred kilometres. Now consider that its fuel tank measures 32 litres and you’ve got a theoretical range of 760km. And that’s quite a lot of mileage, if one doesn’t take into account a little factor I like to call, reality.
Manufacturers’ fuel consumption tests are conducted under ideal conditions: think wind-on-your-back, mostly unladen and piloted by a jockey. Downhill. In a wind tunnel. Now enter my world, where said mini hatchling would typically carry myself and wife, plus two of our boisterous lads. That’s a daunting payload of circa 400kg.
We like to blast the aircon, pump the tunes and at least one of us enjoys mashing the loud pedal when the road gets all windy and fun. (It’s me. I’m the one.) It was under these conditions that I planned to fill a day with all the activities we could think of. For the boys, a visit to Surfer’s Corner for breakfast and a short hike from Muizenberg to St James. For my wife Kelly, coffee and cake at Taki’s in Franschhoek. And for me a spirited drive along Franschhoek Pass, one of the country’s best driving roads. But that wouldn’t even come close to emptying the Celerio’s tank, so we added in another stop, Creation in Hermanus for a six-course lunch. And one simply cannot return from a roadtrip in that region without stopping at Peregrine Farm Stall for a pie and a view.
So, we had our route; a 420km round trip that meant we wouldn’t necessarily suffer from range anxiety. But then this wasn’t an economy run. It was a reality run.
Up at seven
Sunrise happens sharply at 6.57am here in the sunny Cape, but the day wasn’t meant to be a race against a clock, so the Fisher family enjoyed a leisurely start. The four of us clambered aboard the Celerio and can report a very pleasant living space with plenty of space. Suzuki do an excellent job of equipping tiny cars with large interiors, really optimising the platform for sheer livability. You’ll appreciate that when spending five hours with your family.
The surfaces don’t suffer that low-rent feel, despite the Celerio being a sub-R200 000 hatch. It’s certainly well appointed too, with aircon and Android Auto and a large screen dominating the tiny dashboard. A good place then, to launch a roadtrip. But not before setting my favourite playlist to play.
It’s no rocket ship
Top tip: if you’re buying a car with a tiny engine, always opt for a manual transmission. Unless you absolutely despise shifting cogs yourself of course. But being in control of the gears yourself means you’re in charge of the revs, which means you can make a little feel like a lot.
In this case, the Suzuki Celerio 1.0 GL 5MT only makes 49kW and 89Nm but thanks to some strategic shifting, made short work of the highways between home and our first destination. It’s a fun car, this, but we’ll get to the way it moves when the road gets more entertaining a little later. For now, it’s a Starbucks cappuccino and breakfast situation. Yes, I am aware of the great local restaurants in the area. Sorry, my kids have no imagination. Mermaid coffee, it is. At this stage in our trip, I was averaging 5.1 litres/100km. Staggering.
Exercise done. What can we eat next?
We arrived from our beach-side hike a little sweaty, and a little nibbly. Our next stop was far – at 80km, Muizenberg to Franschhoek is considered quite the day trip here in the Cape. That meant a stint of coastal road and a bit of highway and with that, I dropped the consumption to 4.9 litres/100km. I didn’t realise at the time that these lows would never be reached again. Because once our pastries were consumed, it was time for Franschhoek Pass. Now this road needs no introduction, resembling the best bits of every cinematic car scene in film history, but in our back road. A 27km ribbon of pristine asphalt that was sewn by the gods of speed themselves and dropped atop the breathtaking topography of Franschhoek. It wasn’t ready for my overfed brood in our almost 50kW Celerio.
Ok, but really
The road is divine, as long as you’re not stuck behind a truck or similarly slow traffic. I refused to be slow traffic, so dropped two gears and disappeared. Well, attempted to at least. The acceleration was largely imagined but my smile was authentic. There’s something so special about a low-power car being revved to its meager limits and it responding so enthusiastically. Like a plucky underdog, this puppy was there for it and so was I, changing at the top of the rev range, using my full lane to carve a perfect corner. Of which there are several – the mountain pass just went on and on, until it spat us out onto the road to Hermanus… 6.1 litres/100km.
Whoopsie. Too much enthusiasm perhaps, but we only had one official stop left and were barely kissing the half-tank mark. Still, I calmed down substantially save for the road to Creation Wines itself, which was also notably epic. We rolled in with the fuel gauge officially at half-mast, the consumption at a respectable 5.6 litres/100km (at circa 317km) and our bellies were feeling lonely. They wanted food for friends, and the kind folks at Creation were thrilled to oblige.
More than oblige, actually. Upon arrival, we were greeted by our host, Joy, for an unforgettable afternoon. We were treated to a meticulously balanced menu titled ‘Return to Nature’, comprising six courses, each paired with an award-winning Creation wine. For self-confessed foodies, this was an adventure in itself. According to pairing fundi Carolyn Martin, the menu is inspired by Ayurveda – in Sanskrit, ayur means ‘life’ and veda means ‘knowledge’. Therefore, Ayurveda means ‘The Knowledge of Life’. Even for the uncultured mermaid coffee lovers, this was inspiring!
The long road home
Our stomachs were full, the sun was waning in an orange sky and ahead of us lay a straight trek home via the N2. As we were debating which of the exquisite six courses, ranging from nutritious soup to the mouth-watering chocolate dessert – all made with fresh produce from sustainable sources – were the best, I found an unmarked gravel road that promised to be entertaining. I did this to test out the Celerio’s off-road demeanor (as well as my own) and enjoyed it thoroughly, a testament to its ground clearance.
It’s no crossover, but engaged me greatly and hell, it can only be regarded as yet another feather in its little cap. The car is infectious I tell you, likeable like few others at twice the price. And just like that we added another 20 dusty kilometres to our trip. We pulled into Peregrine at 5:55pm, five minutes to closing and just in time for a pie and my last cappuccino of the day. From here it was just a trundle along the N2 back to town, so the 5.2 litres/100km on the clock was pretty much our final tally.
At comfortably under halfway (but not quite a third) the range on the dash read 316km remaining. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was now evening, we could pretty much have retraced our steps in reverse, on the same tank of fuel we started the day on. But my family had that look, only a driver recognises. The one where they’re bright-eyed and full of sugar, but also just five kilometres away from their heads rolling back in their seats, and their eyes rolling back in their heads, punctuated by the sounds of snoring. So, we went home with the memories instead.
A whale of a time
No trip to Hermanus would be complete without mentioning the gentle giants of the ocean. In fact, if you’re in the area between June and November, they’re probably the main reason you’re here. Listed as one of the 12 best whale-watching destination in the world by the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF), Hermanus is a breeding ground for southern right whales. So why not book an awesome whale-watching tour that will get you up close and personal (without disturbing the beautiful creatures)?
Where to find it: Southern Right Charters – The Whale Shack, New Harbour, Hermanus.
Cost: Ranging from R450 (children under 14) to R900 (adults). Children under 5 are free.
Contact: +27 82 353 0550 | email@example.com
Views for days
Once a lookout point to watch for fishermen sailing into the harbour, Gearing’s Point is now one of the must-see spots in Hermanus for its incredible whalewatching opportunities. Elevated above the harbour, this viewing point allows a wider view of the ocean (and for those with not-such-fabulous vision, there is a telescope available). There are benches and patches of grass for onlookers to rest on while they await the gentle giants.
Where to find it: 71 Marine Drive, Hermanus
Sun’s out, guns
Arguably one of the best beaches in South Africa, for its clean, clear water, fine white sand, and dreamy setting, Voëlklip Beach will grant you some respite from the crowds who tend to flock to Onrus and Grotto. An especially popular spot for surfers, it’s also a great location for picnics, thanks to the surrounding lawns. The sandy portion of the beach is surrounded by rocky outcrops, which make for sheltered swimming.
Where to find it: 7th Avenue, Hermanus
Contact: 27 28 312 2629 | firstname.lastname@example.org
These shoes are made for walking
A mere three kilometres from the idyllic De Kelders fishing village is the Walker Bay Nature Reserve, home to Klipgat Cave and its limestone windows looking out onto stunning ocean views. This cave has reached cultural, historical and world heritage significance due to the 1992 excavation, which revealed stone tools and human bones dating back some 70 000 years.
Where to find it: The 7km long trail towards Klipgat Cave starts at Gansbaai Harbour and boasts lovely views of the ocean and occasional fynbos. But if you don’t feel like the walk, simply drive to Walker Bay Nature Reserve via Hermanus and take the boardwalk down to the cave. There will still be a bit of climbing as you get to the cave.
Cost: R60 per person to enter the cave.
Good to know: Bring good hiking shoes, as the cave can be slippery, and a warm jacket as it can get windy.
Food, glorious food!
On the scenic Hemel-en-Aarde ridge, this sought-after destination offers unforgettable “wine”-tasting experiences for young and old. Of course, there’s no underage drinking – but rather a Young Adults and a Kiddies’ pairing menu. And, naturally, the grown-up food-and-wine experience, is simply heavenly.
Where to find it: Hemel en Aarde Road (R320), Hermanus
Opening times: Wine-tasting: 10:00 – 17:00 daily (booking is essential) | Wine-and-food pairing: 11:00 – 16:00 daily (booking is essential)
Contact: +27 28 212 1107 | email@example.com
Cost: From R10 (wine-tasting) and R795 (wine-and-food pairings)
*Rates and facilities highlighted have been supplied and are subject to change without prior notice. – Ed.