New Tracks with 2014 Chevrolet Trax | Driving Chevy’s Crossover SUV

Making tracks in the 2014 Chevrolet Trax: We find a new road from the UAE’s Hatta (bypassing the Omani checkpoints) and find a little used track to the new Fujairah road

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By Shahzad Sheikh

2014 Chevrolet Trax

This is the new Chevrolet Trax which is aimed at giving consumers the best of both worlds: SUV style, space and versatility whilst maintaining small car agility for the city streets. It’s an entry level vehicle for those looking to move up to an SUV, but still wanting to be able to park in the tightest of spots.

The crossover SUV has  just gone on sale here in the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, fitted with a 140bhp 1.8-litre engine with prices starting from just  AED 68,500 I drove the 2014 Trax at its launch in South Korea in February (read that review here) over some distance and found it be a handy little crossover SUV that was well suited to long motorway cruises as well as nipping eagerly about town. For our first drive of the new Trax in the UAE, we decided to make new tracks with the Trax by challenging it to #findnewroads – the hashtag and theme of choice currently for Chevrolet.

2014 Chevrolet Trax

#FindNewRoads – but where?

Hatta is a lovely little town at the bottom of the eastern part of the United Arab Emirates nudging the border with Oman and we would often head down there to do car shoots in the past. However, since part of the E44 that dives down from Dubai’s E311 straight to Hatta, falls within the borders of Oman, over the last few years a couple of checkpoints have been erected.

This not only slows progress dramatically, but can often prove irksome if you’re not carrying your ID, or if a border guard happens to be in a foul mood, as I once discovered. Not having noticed an apparent ‘switch off headlights sign’ one time a guard decided to ‘punish’ me by making me wait indefinitely!

2014 Chevrolet Trax

These is another way around – there always has been in fact. You head straight down the E102 Sharjah-Kalba road and turn off at the exit to the village of Huwaylat. Once you get there, you turn right at the roundabout and encounter a fascinating and fun little road that writhes its way over the mountain, that we’ve long dubbed ‘The Hatta Squiggle’. That road brings you out just after the hotel and resort on the main Hatta roundabout. But this still adds over 45 minutes to the journey.

Now there’s good news – the UAE has literally spared no expense and effort and created an entirely new road blasting directly across the mountain range that separated the E44 and E102 – it’s interesting to note that the latter, which used to be merely a little-used Truck Road, has turned into a major artery out of Dubai and Sharjah both for Fujairah and now for Hatta.

2014 Chevrolet Trax

So carry on past Exit 47 that swings you over towards Fujairah on the E102 and keep going till you’re in the hills. About 25km after Exit 47, and well before the Huwaylat exit, you’ll see a brand new bridge ahead of you and an exit to the right. That’s the new road – a pristine and fast dual carriageway.

We begin with the crossover SUV at Hatta

With this little Trax, resplendent in its eye-catching bronze-orange hue, wearing distinctive racing stripes and a nice set of chunky-looking dark-grey 18-inch alloy wheels, we actually decided to start our journey to #FindNewRoads at Hatta itself, getting in some shots parked in front of what seems to be part of a new beautification project. So it’s a surprisingly lush green backdrop in our start to our Chevrolet Trax adventure across what would become very rugged terrain.

2014 Chevrolet Trax

Pictures in the bag, we get back on the E44 and turn left at the main roundabout towards Dubai. At around 7kms there is an abandoned building on the right just before a huge new roundabout – this is where you head right onto the new road.

It is early afternoon as we stop to take more pictures and therefore still hot. I take a gander around the building as well, but after a few minutes I’m in need of a few swigs of water and some cooling and seek respite in the Chevy. Fortunately the air-conditioning system in the crossover SUV is remarkably effective, and we do actually have to keep it down to avoid turning the Trax into a mobile ice box!

2014 Chevrolet Trax

But there’s no rest for the wicked and just before we hit the new road we notice a large but rather lonesome boulder intriguingly standing proud of the stonescape around it. It’s a bit further off the road, but emboldened by the knowledge that the 2014 Trax is all-wheel drive, we decide to go check it out anyway – one of us walking ahead of the car to ensure it would be alright. Turned out it was an easy-peasy task for the little Chevy.

New road / old road

In the past there was another road, a single carriageway, also off the E44, joining a little further ahead, that swept around and through the mountains, past the quarries therein, taking wide arcs that made for a challenging drive in high-powered sports cars. This road ended at a T-junction that would lead you back to near the aforementioned village of Huwaylat.

2014 Chevrolet Trax

We also used to shoot on that frequently but it’s now gone. The road authorities went against what would have been the easier and cheaper option to just reroute the two ends of it and connect it up to the E102. Instead it has been replaced and got rid of entirely. Well almost.

I say ‘almost’ because bits of the old tarmac remains, snaking in a ghostly parallel over and back across the new motorway.  We find one of the bizarre stretches of purposeless blacktop jutting out just below the edge of the new section, and heading upwards but then suddenly crumbling away, as if it’s forgotten where it was supposed to go. It’s slightly forlorn and tragic.

2014 Chevrolet Trax

The Trax stops to stare at the gaping abyss that must have been caused by giant JCBs digging out a new path. For a moment we think there might be just enough room to get the little crossover SUV across and head further up the hill to even higher ground, but crisp new tarmac beckons and we back down from getting over-ambitious – somewhere a GM executive sighs in relief!

Fast and flowing, the peppy 1.8’s 129lb ft of torque gets us up to legal limit and slightly beyond (no cameras here yet), whilst the ride is firm but well damped on this smooth surface. With one of our phones hooked up to the Bluetooth (you can pair up to 5 phones and use Siri with an iPhone) on the Chevy MyLink system, which will play the music and stream live internet radio, I plug the other into the USB port, both to help it charge and to play the tunes off it on the excellent stereo.

2014 Chevrolet Trax

Any more new roads for the 2014 Trax?

After 21km the bridge spills us back onto the E102 in the direction of Dubai and we’re done. That was it. We’ve found a new road, and we’ve found it to be a quick and easy shortcut across to Hatta that you should all use now.

But we’ve made excellent time, way better than we thought. There’s an hour of daylight left, and we’re feeling far from tired in the comfortable cabin of the 2014 Trax. We start to get a little ambitious. Consulting Google Maps, there appears to be another, single carriageway road, that also cuts right through the mountains northwards and joins up with the new Fujairah road, the E84. We’ve never driven it before and it looks like it could be fun bucking back and forth.

2014 Chevrolet Trax

So resolving to stay true to the #FindNewRoads theme of this feature drive, we turn off the E102 again after just over a km. Things get off to a great start with the crossover SUV, as the road climbs and curves and we’re able to push the Chevy’s grip and roadholding having a bit of an Oo-Ah moment as we come over a blind crest only to find the road immediately twists sharply to the left. Thankfully we weren’t quite airborne and the brakes were well up to the task on the 2014 Trax!

In fact the Trax seems to be enjoying this much more worn bit of tarmac as much as we are. Then, after about 10km, we arrive at a village and the blacktop just ends abruptly next to a Du communications tower.

2014 Chevrolet Trax

It’s not a road, but it looks okay, right?

The gravel track that we’re now on, appears to be wide, flat, firm and reasonably smooth, so we resolve to press on, not quite having calculated that there’s still another 16km to the new E84, and at the pace we’re progressing, that would take another hour.

After a couple of clicks the track starts to get tighter, more broken up and frequently hugs hills on one side and decidedly large drops on the other. Shortly afterwards we also note with mock humour that despite this clearly being a track, we haven’t seen a single other vehicle on it, so we’re not quite sure if it even comes out the other side – Google Maps is not always to be trusted as we have found in the past.

2014 Chevrolet Trax

We’re definitely heading into the unknown now, and that half-foolish, half-adventurous resolve has by this time completely overcome common-sense and good logic. Despite the fading light and the worsening conditions we press on, hoping the 2014 Chevrolet Trax will look after us.

And that it does. To be fair, there re only a few points were the surface gets really loose enough to trouble the automatic system to engage all-four wheels in motion rather than just the front-drive normally in use. Our primary concern in fact is ground clearance and desperately hoping we don’t encounter anything too stepped or rutted for the Trax. But threading our way gingerly along, we carefully manoeuvre around any foreboding rocks and ridges, and the Trax genuinely seems unruffled with proceedings.

2014 Chevrolet Trax

Which is definitely a good thing, because although the crossover SUV comes with a 3-year/100,000km warranty (and 10k service intervals for low running costs) plus more crucially for us, a 24-hour roadside assistance package that theoretically we could call upon if things went awry, we weren’t confident of any rescue driver ever finding us here.

Nonetheless for all this risky effort we are rewarded with some spectacular vistas as the sun sets over the jagged peaks of the Hajar range enveloping us from both sides. But dusk comes on quickly and just as it gets too dark to be out here in a little car on unlit roads, and as we are about to concede to ourselves that this had been an appallingly bad idea, the little Trax crests a brow and at the bottom of the steep descent on the other side are the lights of a village twinkling their reassurance of a return to civilisation and a proper road back to the motorway!

2014 Chevrolet Trax

Back in time for dinner

Rejoining the E84 and flicking on the cruise control the Trax proves a swift and easy ride back to Dubai. We have time to reflect on how versatile this supposedly city-bound small SUV had proved itself to be. Despite some bone-jarring terrain shaking up the Trax, and putting it through paces that most owners will never even contemplate, we couldn’t detect any noises, squeaks, rattles, vibrations or anything different from when we first embarked on our ill-advised adventure.

The stout yet appealing eager-puppy looks of the little Chevy all but lack a wagging tail, but they do seem to accurately sum-up the Trax’s persona. Affordable to buy and run, packed with cool kit and powered by decently torquey motor that’ll climb hills – although we do recommend you go for the eye-popping colours like this orange and the specify the stripes.

2014 Chevrolet Trax

Then go #FindNewRoads and let us know how you get on!

Read our review of the new 2014 Chevrolet Trax here

One response to “New Tracks with 2014 Chevrolet Trax | Driving Chevy’s Crossover SUV”

  1. francisco tirado says:

    what size is the vinil rally performance

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