The Stoney Ridge Off-Road Academy just outside Colenso in the KZN Midlands recently played host to the Nissan Pathfinder and threw down a gauntlet the mid-size SUV simply couldn’t refuse. With a host of demanding off-road driving trails – from mud pits and river crossings to rock climbs and sandy trails – Stoney Ridge is widely regarded as a tough proving ground with over 200 kilometres of off-road trails with varying degrees of difficulty. John Rich – who is widely regarded to be one of the top off-road driving instructors in the country – After two days of off-road driving in a multitude of environments, Rich was impressed by the Pathfinder and its capability.'HUGELY IMPRESSIVE'Rich said: “I particularly liked the smoothness and linearity of the Nissan Pathfinder’s power which made negotiating the trails easy and comfortable, as did the vehicle’s interior comfort and practicality. I particularly love the seating arrangement and the ease with which the third row of seats can be folded away without compromising boot space which in itself is hugely impressive.”Rich went on to say he felt that driving the Pathfinder off-road was made safer and easier thanks to a combination of good ground clearance matched to its critical angles and he also praised the Pathfinder’s traction control system.“In addition, I also loved the features which enable you to go off-road, enhancing the experience – navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, top-level infotainment and the reversing camera are all convenience features that make a bush trip a pleasure,” Rich said.Encompassing three engine derivatives, Nissan claims the Pathfinder range offers something for anyone who needs an advanced, versatile and capable SUV. Its rugged design notwithstanding, the Pathfinder continues to project a strong on- and off-road attitude, making it an all-encompassing medium-sized SUV.Terry Mashoko, product manager for SUVs at Nissan South Africa, said: “the Pathfinder’s high levels of luxury, technology, safety and value-added features make it a highly-attractive option in the SUV segment. With advanced off-road systems fitted to all models, the Pathfinder is not only loaded with comfort features but is also fantastic off the beaten track – as has been proven at Stoney Ridge.”OFF-ROAD CAPABILITYWith all-mode 4x4 available on all models along with low range, according to Nissan the vehicle is a serious off-roader. Link these systems to fully-independent suspension and advanced technologies like VDC (Vehicle Dynamics Control) and ABLS (Active Brake Limited Slip) which are fitted to all models, and the result is an off-road capability and safety of the highest degree – something Nissan has extensive experience with. Available in both diesel and petrol, the vehicle is said to have excellent towing capability – the highest towing capacity in its class.“The Nissan Pathfinder has a large lifestyle aspect to its personality and is one of those SUVs which are perfectly capable of tackling busy city life. However, it is just as at home knee-deep in mud or descending a rocky slope – all in luxurious comfort and complete safety. In South Africa, we are looking forward to continued success from the Pathfinder for years to come,” Mashoko said.