2014 Chevrolet Captiva – capturing the castle!

We take the Chevrolet Captiva up to the castle in Fujairah for a captivating view!

By Shahzad Sheikh

Featured brand 2014 Chevrolet Captiva

2014 Chevrolet Captiva – capturing the castle!

This is the third in our #FindNewRoads in the UAE series with Chevrolet, previously we took a Tahoe tomb-raiding in Al Ain, and made new tracks in Trax from Hatta to Sufini. This time we raised the game to even loftier heights by aiming to capture a castle in a Captiva high up in the mountains around Fujairah!

The Al Hayl Castle and Fort dates back to the Iron Age putting it at older than 300BC making it one of the oldest historic monuments in the UAE. It’s an amazing, but little known and visited tourist spot sitting just 13km west of Fujairah. Whilst it’s a bit of a steep climb, most of the road up to it is tarmac so a regular car will get you up here, although there are a couple of spots where the road is broken up and higher ground clearance, like that offered by the Captiva, will be reassuring.

2014 Chevrolet Captiva – capturing the castle!

Tell me about the Capitva

The 2014 Chevrolet Captiva is offered in LS, LT and LTZ models, with a choice of two engines – a 2.4 L EcoTec engine or 3.0L V6. Prices start from AED84,000 ($23k) for LS (2.4L, FWD) model and rise up to AED107,000 ($29k) for LTZ (3.0L, AWD) model, which is the one you see in these pictures.

Last year the Captiva got some revisions with a lower bumper, new mesh grille and restyled fog lamps at the front and new LED tail lamps, angular chrome exhaust tips and again a new bumper at the back. The wheel arches were also resculptured to accomodate wheel sizes ranging from 17s to these 19s.

2014 Chevrolet Captiva – capturing the castle!

Inside the seven-seater Captiva, keyless entry and push-button start are standard on range-topping models along with full connectivity for the in-car entertainment system. It remains a comfortable and user-friendly family-friendly SUV, with all the kit you could need, and ideal for weekend outings – or mock attacking an ancient castle!

So how do we get to Al Hayl Castle?

If you’re heading out from Dubai head over to just inside Sharjah and pick up the E102/112 (Maliha Road / Sharjah-Kalba Road in the direction of the East Coast. Once you get to exit 47, take the new E84 (that beautiful fast new road into Fujairah – Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Road).

2014 Chevrolet Captiva – capturing the castle!

Just before you get to Fujairah you’ll pass a grand-looking Courthouse adjacent to an open quarry on the right. At the very next traffic lights turn right, it’ll be signposted to Al Hayl on the overhead and roadside signage. Then straight across a roundabout and up to a junction with traffic lights and petrol station to your left. You have to turn right here and head past the Fujairah Driving Institute.

Straight across the next roundabout and again at the second roundabout (although most of the traffic will be going left on that one), and this is where our ##FindNewRoads route to Al Hayl Castle actually starts.

Try not to stop here to take pictures, because you’re right next to an Army camp with strict ‘no photography’ signs in red on the foreboding high walls! Don’t worry, the photo-ops get much better further down anyway.

2014 Chevrolet Captiva – capturing the castle!

Mind the families in the village

Watch for slow-moving local traffic, but otherwise this is a good clean road and you can stretch the 3.0-litre V6 out for the full 264bhp, ample enough to get you to 100kph from standstill in a decent 8.9seconds, although there won’t be room on this winding unfenced single carriageway to get anywhere near the Captiva’s top speed of 198kph.

In fact it’s best to keep things sensible till you past the tiny village starting at the football field on your left. The road narrows after the mosque and there’s a couple of speedbumps – in any case there are usually families and small children running around, playing or riding bikes here so be very careful and respectful as you pass through.

2014 Chevrolet Captiva – capturing the castle!

AWD easily bests minor road obstacles

Once through you may encounter a stream of water running across the road, if the heavens have been kind. Not a worry in the Captiva of course with its active on-demand four-wheel drive which powers the front wheels most of the time and only activates the rear drive through an electronic clutch if things get slippery.

Power between the front and rear is varied up to a ratio of 50:50 and is managed through sensors measuring everything from wheel spin to engine speed, yaw and steering angle, and works in tandem with the Anti-lock brakes and traction control.

2014 Chevrolet Captiva – capturing the castle!

Along this road a few parts are badly broken up and you’ll be thankful for the higher ground clearance, but generally it’s an entertaining and twisting road that’ll enable you to exploit the Chevy’s improved vehicle dynamics for flatter cornering and the added confidence provided by the stability control.

Keep your camera handy

Halfway up there’s a dam and large flat terrace where you can park up for pictures or a picnic. Press on and things get a little greener as you start to gain altitude, thankful of the 212lb ft of torque managed by the six-speed auto in the Captiva.

2014 Chevrolet Captiva – capturing the castle!

Careful though, some of the bends from here on have rather steep drop-offs and nothing to prevent you from flying off and dive bombing someone’s date farm below! Not sure even the dual front and side airbags plus the curtain airbags will keep you safe from that stunt.

Behold, the castle!

And you’re there. But you can leave the bow & arrow in the car, the only thing you’ll need for shooting here is your DSLR, as one or two of the bemused staff, clearly delighted to see you, will point you to a safe place to park and you can get out to soak in the history of this place.

2014 Chevrolet Captiva – capturing the castle!

This was the home of the Al Sharqiyin ruling family who ruled Fujairah – a strategically important place as a crucial part of the trade from the coast to the interior. In 1850 it was annexed to Sharjah and governed by Al Qasimi Wali of Kalba for over 60 years until Hamad bin Abdulla Al Sharqi, chief of the Sharqiyin, declared independence from Sharjah. It remained independent for 51 years until in 1952 Fujairah entered into a treaty, which ultimately saw it becoming the last of the Emirates to join the Trucial States, eventually becoming part of the UAE on 2nd December 1971.

The Al Hayl Castle and Fort itself was restored in the mid 2000s and at one point there were 25 archaeologists working on the site finding rock art and petroglyphs.  Two trenches were dug, one of which was against the outer wall exposing the foundations to reveal how the building was constructed.  Other excavations revealed a plaster floor.

2014 Chevrolet Captiva – capturing the castle!

An enclosed compound includes meeting rooms, bedrooms, storage and a kitchen, as well as a reception area (majlis) which featured artistic engravings on the walls plastered in white lime. The boundary wall has weapons ports and battlements, though being on a peak the fort would have been in a strong defensive position anyway.

It’s amazing to just stand on the grounds and imagine the hustle and bustle of a castle and fort as people lived, worked and fought here.

2014 Chevrolet Captiva – capturing the castle!

Want to press on?

The track you came up, actually winds around the whole facility along the edge of the hill and then carries on down the other side into the valley beyond. There doesn’t really seem to be another way out of that valley, not that we could find, so you’ll have to return back the same way. But whilst you’re here there are loads of tracks and paths, left behind by previous heavy quarrying, that the AWD Capitva can easily explore.

Head up to the higher bits and there are some magnificent mountain views to soak in and some wonderful spots to stop and gaze in awe. Definitely worth a full day out during the great weather we’re currently having!

What are you waiting for? Go #FindNewRoads!

2014 Chevrolet Captiva – capturing the castle!

Have you been to Al Hayl Castle? Let us know below

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