NADINE LAGGAR

It all started with a manila envelope. A manila envelope in the hands of a man looming over me, outfitted with a gloriously devilish grin. This was Perdeby’sfirst amazing race. A race created to test the durability of the car we were to review. This car is the Geely, Panda a new participant in the small-car market, and we had been given the keys to two of them. I was to complete the race, testing the capabilities of the Geely while completing four tasks and reaching the end destination before my colleague, Chris.

I approached the Geely and assessed its aesthetic value, eager to know how good we were going to look obliterating the competition. We were pleasantly surprised. Turns out the Geely is quite easy on the eye. But that’s because the car was designed with the dimensions of a panda in mind. That means it’s cute, very cute – but then, that’s why they needed a female reviewer: I get to say these things without jeopardising my street cred. 

We opened our first clue and the race began. First task: fit as many people as possible in the car and take them along for the duration of the race. Panic ensued, people were verbally harassed to get into the car and we may even have convinced some people that we were kidnappers. Eventually three people were found to test the car’s space limitations. You’d want to keep it to three people, maximum. Our passengers were good sports but the afternoon sun was blazing and the air con could have been a little more powerful.

Nonetheless, everyone was still invigorated by the chase and we opened the second clue. I had to change a tyre. By myself. I had never changed a tyre in my entire life. There was a lot of groaning, sweat and grease. But I did it and it wasn’t half as difficult as I had anticipated, once I had figured out what everything was for.

Third clue: buy the tackiest trinket we could find from a street vendor and bonus points for getting it for under R20. People aren’t very friendly when you’re trying to haggle at an intersection. So for suffering verbal abuse, the Geely gets full marks. This is the point where central locking becomes quite handy. Safety first, kids. The electric windows were efficient and speedy enough to allow my passengers to respond to passing threats. The power steering was just as amiable in making U-turns and navigating the traffic inPretoria. Just as well, because we got lost – a lot. And a word of advice: never hold a tacky rainbow windmill out of the window. It will disintegrate and necessitate an emergency stop. We now know the ABS brakes are working and will perform when needed. Just as well the Geely has more safety features for the price (R79 999 – R89 999) than any other car in its category.

We were then on to our final clue: find The Golden City Chinese restaurant. There was a map but maps lie. Google also lies, because it turns out we were looking for a place that doesn’t exist anymore. That’s when we discovered the USB input and imagined all the possibilities if only we had had something to plug into it.

Eventually, we were alerted that we were racing in vain and that the other team had already gone to Kung Fu Kitchen to recuperate. On the way back, we contemplated the quality of our journey and all the lovely things we were going to stuff our faces with when we got to the restaurant.

As a small car, it is the perfect aid in navigating the realms of the city as it is easy to manoeuvre and easy to park. But don’t expect to travel at an incredibly fast pace. Trust me, we tried. But for what the Geely is offering, you can’t really ask for more in a car for a student.

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