CHRIS VAN DER MERWE
The clock struck half past two on Wednesday 31 August. White knuckles clenching the wheel. The sound of engines roaring could be heard throughout campus. Tensions rose as it came closer to the time when two colleagues (and friends) would face off against each other in what could only be described as Perdeby’s own version of “The Amazing Race”. Okay, you caught us. We might be exaggerating just a tad but don’t get us wrong: it was pretty rad to review a car for the first time.
The car is manufactured by a Chinese company called Geely. It has a 1.3 litre engine, central locking and an awesome front loader. Now that the specifics are out of the way, we can get to what it’s really all about – the experience.
See, the race worked as follows: we had four tasks to finish before we could move to our final destination.
We started our “adventure” (indulge us) in the Tukkiewerf parking lot. My trusty photographer, Brad Donald, and I got our envelopes and immediately examined the first task – we had to load as many people as we could fit into the back seat. It also tested some of the Geely’s luxury features, such as the rear park assist, while seeing how comfortable it drives if fully loaded. Brad and I quickly called our trusty Entertainment Editor, Meagan Dill, and our Layout Editor, Hickley Hamman, to join us in our quest. Right there and then, we decided that two people in the back were more than enough for our comfort and so we continued on to task two.
The second task involved speeding to the Shell garage on the corner ofLynnwoodand Atterbury and changing a tyre. Our first major challenge was staring us right in the face – how do you open the boot? Brad and I looked everywhere in the car for some kind of lever but to no avail. Five minutes later (and probably also five minutes longer than it should’ve taken) we found out that there is a button on the keys that opens the boot. Relieved and a little embarrassed, we pressed on and changed the tyre in record time (well, it was a record for us anyway). This was the first opportunity we had to inspect the boot of the car. I have to say this about the Geely: its boot space is pretty average. This car is not going to be the pack mule on the way to Oppikoppi, for instance.
On to the third task: we had to buy an accessory for the car from a street vendor. Upon reading this, we immediately bulleted to the place where we thought all the tacky street vendor people hang out – Menlyn Park Shopping Centre. We drove around and around but all we could find were Springbok jerseys, pirated DVDs and sunglasses. Pressed for time, we decided to just buy the most tacky pair of sunglasses we could find. One hipster pair of sunglasses and R50 later, we moved on to our last task – take the N1 and drive to The Golden City Chinese restaurant. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong.
The first thing we didn’t know was that there is no longer a Garsfontein offramp on the N1 South – but a quick U-turn had us back on track. We also found out that the Geely really struggles to go faster than 100 km/h when the air conditioning is on. But when it does travel past 120km/h there’s an alert that goes off. Parents will appreciate this feature.
In no time (given the circumstances) we were at the spot where the restaurant was supposed to be. Confused and a tad frustrated, we started asking car guards about this mysterious restaurant. All of them confused it with a different one that we didn’t need to be at. Then it came to us: in front of us were the remains of a building – where the restaurant once was. After that disappointment, we decided to head to our local Asian hangout, Kung Fu Kitchen. As we ended our adventure, it was time to share stories of the other explorers’ adventures over Kung Fu Kitchen’s famous Pork Chow Mein.
Photos: Brad Donald & JP Nathrass