Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

The great escape

Each December, when all the other ‘Vaalies’ head to the coast, Liana Reiners and her family head for the hills of Mpumalanga to enjoy four of their favourite pastimes: relaxing, fishing, sightseeing and catching up with old friends. There’s usually also a lot of eating involved. For such a trip a great vehicle is a must, and the Hyundai Creta fits the bill perfectly.

We have long given up on the idea of spending our December vacations at the beach. For starters, my better half doesn’t like crowds, which can become a problem when you try to find an open patch of sand to spread your beach towel among the droves of holidaymakers. Also, we aren’t always able to get leave at the same time, so taking the 10 to 14 days off that are required for a decent seaside rest isn’t really viable.

Instead, we prefer shorter breaks – usually carefully planned to coincide with public holidays so that we don’t have to use up too many leave days. The 2022 December period was no different, but this time around we did it twice! In both instances our destination was the Mpumalanga province, first to the Belfast area for a fishing farm stay, and then to White River, which can probably be considered our second hometown as that is where hubby grew up and where some of our closest friends still reside.

Most of our vacations involve fishing of some sort as the three men in my life are basically fishing fanatics. As a result, it is also a pastime that I partake in on a regular basis. Not that I had a choice in the matter… the first gift my husband ever bought me was a fishing rod and a bait caster and I caught my first bass on a plastic lure when I was heavily pregnant with our youngest son.

We discovered our favourite fishing destination, about 10km before Belfast, about 12 years ago, and since then we have been going there religiously… at least twice a year. This usually involves going in two vehicles because, honestly, we take along way too much stuff which includes (but is not limited to) my very tiny miniature doberman pincher, Lily.

While my husband’s double cab bakkie is mainly used for transporting the all-important fishing gear and groceries, whatever I’m driving at the time has to carry everyone’s luggage and the fragile stuff like cameras, electronics and such. Oh, and driving into town to replenish the snack stash. The boot of the Creta comfortably swallowed a whole bunch of stuff, and nothing needed to be packed on the back seat, which meant there was space for my mom too!

Getting to the farm is a 180km trip on the N4 east and thankfully there wasn’t too much holiday traffic. I was immediately impressed by the Creta’s cruising abilities. I was even forced to rethink my preconceived opinion of its Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT), which is basically a CVT with a different name. (I might have mentioned in previous articles that I’m not a fan of CVT.)

After four blissful days of relaxation and fishing – and also a fair bit of snacking and napping – it was time to head back to Pretoria for Christmas, before heading to White River a week later. Because we were staying with friends, we had a lot less stuff to take along on our second trip. Also, granny, Lily and our eldest son weren’t joining us, so we could all comfortably fit in the Creta. There was ample room both front and rear and we even managed to fit in the obligatory fishing rods and tackle. This time we had a bit further to travel… 330km give or take. Hubby was on driving duty, and he too remarked how comfortable the Creta was on the road. It was a rather warm day, and we

were grateful for the aircon. As we moved further away from home the radio started crackling and soon, we had to revert to the roadtrip playlists on our phones. Bluetooth connectivity and Apple Carplay and Android Auto are standard in the Creta …… we had, as was wireless cellphone charging. Obviously, USB charging points are also part of the package.

No trip to the Lowveld is complete without stopping at Milly’s, just outside Machadodorp. If you’re so inclined, you can dine at the restaurant or you can pop in at the wellstocked shop for some tasty treats. The smoked trout pies are to die for! It goes without saying that more snacks were bought. From there we stayed on the N4, passing by Waterval Boven and Waterval Onder, all the way to our destination. I asked if we could stop in Kaapsehoop on the way, but my request fell on deaf ears. Pity… I was really hoping to see those famous wild horses…

The nice thing about being married to a White River ‘native’ is that he knows all the best places to go. However, it also means that he has seen everything countless times before and he’s not always interested in doing ‘touristy’ things. He’d much rather spend his days fishing at one of the many dams in the area, which he and our son did… every day… until I put my foot down.

It had been raining non-stop for a few days and when we woke up to clear skies one morning, I demanded that we spend the day sightseeing and exploring. We agreed that our first destination would be Sabie. We stopped at the Sabie Falls and I must admit that I was slightly disappointed in its location, just outside of town. You have to walk under the bridge over which the main road runs to get to the best place to view the falls. It’s pretty and all, but the sound of traffic passing over your head and the graffiti on the underside of the bridge does ruin the experience somewhat.

From there we decided to head to Pilgrim’s Rest. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never visited this historic town before. There was quite a bit of tourist activity and most of the eateries were packed. We opted to pop in at the Royal Hotel for a cold beer before exploring the quaint buildings on the main street. There certainly is quite a bit to see and do and we found the museum, focussing mainly on the town’s ‘golden’ days most informative.

A visit to Graskop was next on our agenda. We’d been to the town on two previous occasions during the year and decided to give the famous Gorge Lift Company a miss. Instead, we stopped at Harrie’s Pancakes for a delicious lunchtime treat, after which everyone felt decidedly lazy. I was having none of it though as there were still places I wanted to see, God’s Window being one of them.

My husband once told me that on a clear day you can almost see all the way to Mozambique. Unfortunately, it was quite hazy, so we had to be content with the magnificent views of the valley below. Once again, I was moved by the sheer natural beauty of this country of ours. I was also reminded why my husband loves the area so much. There truly are more glorious sights places to see and views to appreciate than you can shake a stick at.

It was time to start making our way back to White River, but not before stopping off to look at a few more waterfalls. Along the way we spotted a roadsign indicating a memorial for everyone’s favourite staffie, the legendary Jock of the Bushveld. Of course, we couldn’t pass that by! It turned out to be a huge disappointment… it was basically a bronze statue of Jock, situated under a thatch roof on the veranda of what seemed to be a local watering hole… and I don’t mean the wildlife kind.

By this time the rainclouds were gathering again, and we decided to call it quits. The boys don’t mind fishing in the rain so while they went off to yet another local dam, I opted for a well deserved and much needed nap. I was on vacation after all!

All too soon it was time to head back to Pretoria. Somehow, we had managed to increase our luggage load considerably, but the Creta still managed to accommodate all of it. We decided to take the route through Schoemanskloof and despite a number of trucks causing hold-ups, we were treated to even more spectacular views.

Our final stop of the trip was at a well-known farm stall, where we bought delicious fresh fruit, more snacks and gifts for mom, Lily and the rest of the family back home. Having covered almost 2 000km on our two trips, we arrived back home after a truly enjoyable and relaxing break. The next day I treated the Creta to a valet… goodness knows, it deserved it!

Our ride

December holidays are meant for family and fun. Often this also involves travelling and exploring, so having a comfortable, reliable, and well specced vehicle in which to do so is important.

After spending numerous kilometres in Hyundai’s new Creta, we are happy to report that it offers all that, and much more.

In a market where compact crossovers seem to be ruling the roost, the Creta sports a fresh new look that includes an imposing front grille and an attractive headlight design. The rear is equally attractive, with the Creta name in bold chrome letters taking pride of place under the brand logo. Viewed from the side, an attractive silver inset that runs from the A-pillar to the C-pillar and new 17-inch alloy wheels complete the picture.

We found the interior to be neat and well laid out. There’s ample space, even for rear passengers and after many hours spent behind the wheel, the driver’s seat – with height adjustment – and the telescopic steering wheel ensured a very comfortable driving position.

The Executive model we had boasted black artificial leather seat trim and various other bells and whistles that include remote control buttons on the steering for the infotainment system, a trip computer and cruise control, and a wireless charging pad. Of course, there’s Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity too and the infotainment USB connection in the centre console, an extra 12V power socket, and an additional USB charging socket in the rear of the vehicle meant everyone’s phones remained charged and the roadtrip tunes kept pumping.

The Creta has a naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine with a 1 497cc displacement. In the Executive model this is linked to an automatic Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT). With 84kW and 144Nm on tap the Creta is no rocket, but it holds its own in terms of acceleration, although the whining of the transmission as it searches for the correct gear can become intrusive. Gear changes can also be done manually though.

Its fuel efficiency is a definite feather in the Creta’s cap. Hyundai claims an average of 6.5 litres/100km and we easily managed that and even less. Impressive stuff!

We spent very little time driving in urban conditions, mostly travelling on freeways, rural tar roads and gravel routes. The Creta performed admirably throughout, and we were very impressed with its ability to venture off the beaten track. This is mainly thanks to its 20cm ground clearance and 60-profile tyres on 17-inch rims. Muddy patches and water puddles proved to be no match for the Creta’s abilities as a compact crossover vehicle. Manoeuvring in tight spaces is made easy with the rear park assist sensors and camera, which displays its view on the infotainment system’s screen.

Verdict

The Creta 1.5 Executive IVT was a great December breakaway buddy. Come rain (mostly) or shine, it took whatever we threw at it in its stride. It swallowed a considerable amount of luggage (including a bunch of fishing rods, groceries, bedding, and other necessities) with ease and didn’t break the bank at the fuel pump. It’s a big thumbs up from us.

Model range & pricing

• Hyundai Creta 1.5 Premium MT: R409 900

• Hyundai Creta 1.5 Premium IVT: R429 900

• Hyundai Creta 1.5 Executive IVT: R469 900

*All Creta models are sold with a 7-year/200 000km manufacturer’s warranty; a 4-year/60 000km service plan, as well as 7-year/150 000km roadside assistance.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest

You might also like

You’ve been warned!

In Issue 25 we met JAN-HARM DU PLESSIS and his family as they shared their epic adventure retracing the route of the Dorslandtrekkers of the 1800s through Namibia. This was not a once-off adventure, though, and the four of them love nothing more than to explore the natural wonders of the African continent. They also have a weird fascination with road signs.

Read More »

For the love of overlanding

LA Sport 4WD Megastores Pretoriais one of South Africa’s oldest and most well-known fitment centres and has always had a true passion for their customers and the industry. So, to celebrate this commitment, LA Sport Pretoria hosts an annual weekend getaway for off-road enthusiasts and overlanders. ANTON WILLEMSE JNR joined the fun.

Read More »

The heartbeat of the Kruger

Growing up, one of Natasha Schutte’s most treasured memories and privileges was camping with her grandparents every weekend. As such, she and her family have visited virtually all the camps in the Kruger National Park. One small camp, located in the central part of the park, holds a special place in their hearts.

Read More »